Tzipi Livni: Svoboda Party violates established standards of decorum
With an openly anti-Semite rhetoric the national socialist Freedom Party has violated the established rules of decorum, and the alliance of radicals from Svoboda with the opposition Batkivshchyna Party can have serious consequences for the international reputation and the internal development of Ukraine. Tzipi Livni, the Israeli politician, former Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of the country spoke on this in an interview with the Izvestia in Ukraine publication.
23.01.2013 16:18

With an openly anti-Semite rhetoric the national socialist Freedom Party has violated the established rules of decorum, and the alliance of radicals from Svoboda with the opposition Batkivshchyna Party can have serious consequences for the international reputation and the internal development of Ukraine. Tzipi Livni, the Israeli politician, former Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of the country spoke on this in an interview with the Izvestia in Ukraine publication.

Q.: Your condemnation of the Ukrainian neo-Nazis has triggered a wide response in Ukraine. Why did you decide to take this step?

A.: I believe that the Israeli policy and the very state of Israel, as a Jewish state, must take an active role wherever there are manifestations of anti-Semitism, neo-Nazism and glorification of Nazi war criminals.

Q.: In Ukraine, there are those who would consider your statement as interference in the internal affairs of the country. Is it correct to assess general elections from abroad?

A.: We in no way interfere in the internal affairs of another country, but we have a clear and unambiguous position on all matters relating to anti-Semitism. This is the duty of Israel as a Jewish state.

Q.: Israel was the first country, whose public figures (ambassadors, politicians) alarmed at the fact that radical politicians got seats in the Verkhovna Rada. Then the European Parliament adopted a resolution calling for the parties of the Ukrainian parliament not to cooperate with Svoboda. However, the leader of the United Opposition, Arseniy Yatseniuk, refused to listen to the MEPs. What can such a position lead to?

A.: I believe that those who are trying to give legitimacy are as guilty as the Svoboda Party. It is even more sadly that it comes about the politicians primarily known for their moderation and understanding of the international context in such things. The position of the former Foreign Minister, Arseniy Yatseniuk, put it mildly, is puzzling. All the more so as it was Yatseniuk seeking revocation of the Jackson-Vanik amendment for Ukraine. I remember also that Yatseniuk himself became a victim of aggressive xenophobia during the 2010 campaign.

Q.: Why in Ukraine there is such a political system in which the parties, recognized in western democracies, also share nationalistic approaches. [it is known that Batkivshchyna of Yulia Tymoshenko agreed with Svoboda to coordinate their action)?

A.: I think that this issue should be addressed, first and foremost, to the people of Ukraine, the largest country in Europe, with a tough history, from which we can learn many lessons.

The point is not about Svoboda, but the attitude of society to it. I think that any, even the tightest political situation, cannot justify such a union in the modern world.

The same can be said about the attempts to revise the history of the Second World War, to justify the Nazi criminals.

We appreciate the contribution of the Ukrainian people in the victory over Hitler.

We have well established friendly relations with Ukraine, and I think that people who, during the Second World War cooperated with the Nazis, first of all, betrayed their, Ukrainian nation, against whom they fought. I find it hard to understand how these people can be turned into national heroes. The Ukrainians themselves are well aware of who fought for Ukraine in the Second World War, and who betrayed the national interests of the Ukrainian people and collaborated with the Nazi occupiers.

Q.: How should the policy-makers in Western Europe and the U.S. regard the party's appearance in the parliament? Some deputies of the Verkhovna Rada propose to declare members of the Svoboda Party "non-handshakable" and urged Western politicians not to meet with them. How effective could such a step be?

A.: I think that such a phenomenon as the totalitarian national socialist Svoboda Party should not be overlooked and left with no response from the international community. Please note that even the most radical parties in Europe refused to cooperate and communicate with Tiahnybok. Even the French far-right party of Marine Le Pen. Even the Hungarian party Yobik.

In today's world there are own established rules of decorum, own laws of historical memory. Tiahnybok and his party have violated these laws and standards.

Q.: Ukraine has already heard the idea that Europe, the U.S., Israel should adopt something like the Magnitsky Act in the U.S. to ban politicians with Nazi, xenophobic and anti-Semitic beliefs from entering democratic countries. Do you agree with this initiative?

A.: I advocate taking all possible measures to suppress neo-Nazis and their activities.

Q.: It is no secret that in Ukraine's west and east there are completely different heroes. Lviv streets are named after Shukhevych, Konovalets, there are their monuments on the squares. The activities of the nationalist OUN in the 1930-1950s are being touted as a feat of the Ukrainian people in their struggle for independence. Meanwhile, in Luhansk, Donetsk and Dnipropetrovsk most people consider them criminals. How can Ukraine reconcile so different points of view?

A.: I oppose those names on the streets. I am not a political scientist and expert on Ukrainian politics. I am not a historian. I am an active policy-maker who responds to problems. As a politician, as a former head of the Israeli Foreign Ministry, I know that in every country there are at least two countries, which are different from each other. These are two proposed narratives, two different, sometimes almost parallel discourses. These are two different images of the country. Two different versions of history. These are different images of the past and the future, which are offered to the nation. And it is the nation who should decide what kind of image of the country it chooses. Since it is the nation to pay for the wrong decision. And the cost can be very high.

After aggressive xenophobia, promotion of hatred against other nations, the rise of neo-Nazism are very expensive things that can harm the economy, national development and international relations.

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