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The West is Failing Ukraine

Former Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski writes in the Wall Street Journal, calling on Europe to renew its promises of 1989.

Despite these achievements, the process of making Europe “whole and free” is incomplete — and will remain so as long as there are Europeans denied the opportunity to pursue their chosen path. That was the tragedy of the Western Balkans for much of the 1990s. Today, the area of greatest concern is Ukraine. This country of 46 million is too large and too important to be left out of our vision of the Continent’s future. Yet the West’s approach to Ukraine has been hesitant and confused, while the early momentum of the Orange Revolution seems to have stalled in the face of political and economic crisis.

European leaders lament the political divisions and slow pace of reform often found in Ukraine. Many of these criticisms are justified and need to be addressed by the leaders in Kiev. But that lack of progress is, to a considerable extent, a reflection of our failure to embrace the country in a way that endorses its ambition to play a full role in European affairs. There is a reason why reform and accession to the EU and NATO usually go hand in hand. It’s because the prospect of membership makes painful decisions electorally acceptable where they would otherwise be impossible. It isn’t realistic to expect European outcomes without a full European commitment.