“We are on your side”, Lord Risby, member of the British House of Lords, said to the delegation from Ukraine. It was quite a gathering on March 3rd, 2015, in Vienna. Bernard-Henry Lévi, philosopher and one of the founders of the Nouveaux Philosophes in France, F.W. de Klerk, peace Nobel prize winner and Ex-president of South Africa, Günter Verheugen and Benjamin Mandelson, Ex-EU-Commissioners, Wlodzimierz Cimoszevicz, Ex-Prime Minister of Poland, Peer Steinbrück, Ex-Finance Minister of Germany, Bernard Kouchner, Co-Founder of Médicines San Frontiéres and Ex-Minister of France, and many others. All came in support of a European Ukraine.
We are striving for an “economy meaning real intellectual and moral reform, a special spirit of the rule of law, and safety of bodies.” We are united against “sovietism, corruption, and war”. “The Marshall Plan for Ukraine means all of this”, Bernard-Henry Lévi put forward. He has been the founder of the idea, he who was present at the Maidan, the Ukrainian up-rising a year ago. The same Bernard-Henry Lévi who wrote in 1995 that Europe is not a geographical place but an idea. An idea based on the humanistic world view. In the Ukraine the philosopher is fighting against the “West’s betrayal of a nation that paid dearly — in blood — for its fervent desire to join Europe”.
The event has been the kick-off meeting for the Agency for the Modernization of the Ukraine (AMU), a newly Vienna based NGO, from now on promoting the idea of a Marshall Plan for Ukraine.
The event and all its proponents have taken side in favor of the Ukraine and the European Idea and against the regime of Vladimir Putin and his ideology. An ideology based on a revived 19th century nationalism, again attributing heroic qualities to a people and emphasizing its national interests, again playing an expansionistic rhetoric and launching a war for territories, again pursuing the behaviour of a would-be world power nation-state.
All these in the environment of the 21st century where soon nine billion people are merging to a global society, based on a networked economy where interdependencies are synonymous with prosperity? How anachronistic!
Nevertheless, how real!
I felt well listening to Lévi’s and the event’s messages. It has been a strong voice for a Europe contributing to an empathic world society built on humanistic European values.
How bizarre the coverage of this event by Austrian media. The Austrian state-TV’s headline in the night news: Austrian Ex-Vice Chancellor Spindelegger has got a new job financed by the Ukrainian oligarch Dmitri Firtasch! Yes, Mr. Spindelegger shall become one of the directors of the association. Yes, financing is also coming from Dmitri Firtasch, a controversial figure and head of the Employers Federation of Ukraine which organized the event together with the trade unions of Ukraine. But no words about the content of the event, the idea of a Marshall plan for Ukraine, or the wider picture of an European approach.