Ukraine saved by the Greens

Green MEPs are seeking to draw attention to the ongoing problems in Ukraine. Greens/EFA co-president Rebecca Harms and foreign affairs spokesperson Werner Schulz will travel to the Ukraine from 13-15 June, with a view to assessing the human rights situation in the country.

According to Rebecca Harms MEP:

“The Euro football championships should not divert attention from the ongoing political repression in the Ukraine. Instead, the event should be used as an opportunity to apply pressure on president Viktor Yanukovych to stop rolling back democratic rights and freedoms in the country. Visiting football fans, sportsmen and politicians should not shield their eyes from the rights abuses in Ukraine and should use their experience there to become advocates for an end to repression, notably the treatment of opposition politicians like Yulia Tymoshenko.”

At first glance, this would appear to align well with other human rights activism in Ukraine in which the freedom of Yulia Tymoshenko is common ground.

It would be a mistake however to make such an assumption, since the European Union turns a wilful blind eye to human rights issues in Ukraine,

This is demonstrated by the EU Citizens Consultation, which in 2008 gave the opportunity to call for support. Children in poverty, in gulags known as internats or on the streets were the consequence of a vicious cycle of poverty and among those on the streets, an HIV epidemic had become ‘a threat to all Europe’.  Yet none of this concerned politicians.

A few months ago, I drew this proposal to the attention of my MEP Sir Graham Watson. He in turn raised the issue with Commissioner Michel Barnier.  I’d pointed out the similarity between the recommendations it made and subsequent conclusions from the 2011 Social Business Consultation.

According to Commission Barnier,  he wasn’t aware of this work or our organisation, a social business operating in Ukraine.  For clarity, a social business is one which instead of distributing profit to shareholders, invests it in tackling social problems, in out case, the unfortunate children of Ukraine.  It pays taxes, like any other business, which funds public services and our contribution to the EU.

This key point about social business, that in removing the incentive for personal profit and contributing directly to solving social problems, is made in the paper which the EU was introduced to and known as a ‘Marshall Plan’ for Ukraine.

In that a commissioner is now claiming that the EU weren’t aware of the public responses, there is clearly a question as to whether any consultation can be considered sound and even whether it is democratic.

Unsurprisingly it’s something they’re ashamed enough to have deleted in recent weeks, leaving only a trace on web archives.

Now let us consider the motivation of politicians.

An MEP can earn up to £170,000 or around a 210,000 euros a year,  of which £90,000 may be paid in expenses.  As this is our money, it’s important to know that it’s being deployed in our interest and in the interests of European democracy.

Lord Mandelson,  a former EU Trade Commissioner is no stranger to Ukraine, having become an advocate for Ukraine to gain access to European markets.  The news report of his trip being paid for by the Rinat Akhmetov foundation, like the document I describe above, is apparently something which also needed deleting .

Ukrainians reading this will begin to understand what it is to live in a Western democracy – people with wealth and influence determine what’s published in order to maintain that position .  Rather like Ukraine really,  without the guns and prostitutes. Well, at least not as many.

Caroline Lucas, the UK Green Party leader thinks capitalism should serve the people  , the very thing argued in the paper that the EU now wants  to hide. She wants community banks,  like the one P-CED sourced in Tomsk but where were the Greens when we wanted support for this in the UK 8 years ago?

I’m not picking on the Greens in particular. I’ve raised the same concerns with Liberal Democrats, like Ed Davey, who voiced his concerns about the situation in Ukraine several years ago in a Westminster  Hall debate.  In common with most politicians he just doesn’t respond.

What’s happening, in general, is that politicians of all hues are joining the social enterprise bandwagon  This is about building reputation, no matter who they push out of the way.  This is part of the reason we defend our work with copyright, we want to share and at the same time defend what we do from those intent on serving themselves.

With our founder Terry Hallman now dead I want to ensure that the fruits of his labour benefit those he intended – children living in gulags or on the streets.  I have no intention of helping any politician build their career, on our work.

Only a few months since raising my concerns about the originality of the EU Social Business Initiative, a publicly funded group has inserted itself into GECES a ‘group of experts’, albeit experts with no experience, who will be dictating the direction that EU funding takes.

In his efforts to help children get a better life,  it was necessary to challenge organised crime and government at the highest level.  No way are we going to be brushed aside with the dismissal of an EU commissioner, who clearly doesn’t know how determine the real thing is when he meets it.

“Lift the rock and shine a flashlight” Terry Hallman once told me. He spoke from experience having lifted the lid on US military operations in Laos, at the beginning of his activism.

The message should be clear enough. Try to brush others, especially the most vulnerable aside, in pursuit of your own reputations and careers and the real thing will be coming at you like a train – you have made yourselves part of the problem.


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