WTO Obstructionists

KIEV, Ukraine -- The legislation necessary to prepare Ukraine for World Trade Organization (WTO) accession this year seemed to be going through parliament. But the war in the Rada over that legislation was an instructive lesson in just who in politics is on the side of progress, and who’s a reactionary hack.

Ukrainian parliament deputies stand around Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko (C) as they block a vote in the Ukrainian parliament

Take what happened in parliament on July 6. As WTO-related bills came onto the slate that day, members of parliament’s left and center-left factions stormed the podium to block the bill from coming up to vote, snatching the microphone from Parliament Speaker Volodymyr Lytvyn before he could floor the legislation. Scuffling broke out; they even reportedly broke the microphone. The usual suspects were responsible for the obstruction: members of the Communist and Socialist party factions, and of the bitterly oppositionist Regions of Ukraine and Social Democratic Party of Ukraine (united) parties.

We use the word “obstruction” because that’s all this really is. WTO membership would be a massive triumph for President Viktor Yushchenko and forward-looking elements in Ukraine – and so the likes of the Regions of Ukraine party, and the rest of them, are obliged to stop it at all costs.

An indication of the sophisticated thinking that motivates the anti-WTO forces is Socialist leader Oleksandr Moroz’s July 5 comment that passing the bills would amount to “destroying our own economy.” Sure it would. The obstructionists’ claim that they wanted to protest the fact that Yushchenko allies persist in holding parliament seats and government posts at the same time is likewise nonsense. Yes, the double-dipping is unconstitutional and Yushchenko should end it. But since when are, say, Regions of Ukraine deputies so sensitive to the odor of corruption?

The anti-WTO movement is a crude, reactionary phenomenon. We hope that President Viktor Yushchenko has completely politicked and organized his way around it by the time you read this.

Finally, a word about Moroz and the Socialists. They occupy important positions in Yushchenko’s government, which they received in return for their support of the Orange Revolution. But enough is enough. If they’re going to sandbag Yushchenko, shouldn’t he consider firing them? Kicking them out would be a violation of an agreement. But leaving them in and allowing them to continue to sabotage reforms would be worse. Yushchenko should make it clear that the Socialists can hit the road if they’re going to continue the shenanigans.

Source: Kyiv Post