I have seen the news regarding the acceptance of Mr. Zelenskyy’s party, Sluha Narodu, as associated member of Renew Europe. Mr. Guy Verhofstadt posted a short welcoming message on Facebook last night and over 14k people appreciated the message. This political gesture is one of the few that really counts in this war. And I will explain you why is that.
But first, I feel the need to explain what made me write this note. Namely the fact that some of my Romanian friends reacted in a negative way to this announcement posted by USR, an opposition party that has a political agenda focused on anti-corruption. I suspect their reaction was determined by the low social capital USR enjoys these days. Many of those who reacted negatively to the picture posted by Vlad Voiculescu or the one posted by Dragos Pislaru on Facebook implied some sort of immoral association of Renew Europe logo with Ukrainian president’s image. The later is currently perceived as an example of political leader because he decided not to run abroad and, instead, stayed in Kyiv to fight against Russian aggressor. In other words, there is something immoral because they, in this case USR, are trying to associate themselves with Mr. Zelenskyy and capitalize in a pure “political” (i.e., immoral) way on his reputational capital. Although I would have said the same thing in a different context, I don’t think my friends are right about this. On the contrary, I think they are influenced by their great disappointment with USR and the two people mentioned earlier.
In my humble opinion, I think Renew Europe made a smart decision to accept Sluha Narodu in their political family. First of all, because it is the only way to legitimate the party, which is now under attack from Kremlin satellites in Russian media. Secondly, it is a way of legitimizing the president himself; Mr. Zelenskyy was characterized by Mr. Putin as a drug addict and Fascist, both being meant to justify his intervention in Ukraine. But Mr. Zelenskyy is of Jewish ancestry and some of his grandparents died in Nazi camps. Calling him Fascist is an insult not only for him, but for all Jews.
Thirdly, it is a way to legitimize the government and presidency of Ukraine not only for Russians and their associates (i.e. Byelorussia), but also for EU countries and all the other parties. In other words, Renew Europe recognizes that Sluha Narodu shares the same values like all the other members and has its place among them.
There are huge Ukrainian expectations from EU and this would be a first, small step towards meeting those expectations. Not only on short term, because we all saw the solidarity response of all EU states, but on long term. Ukrainians showed on several occasions that they want to become members of the European Union and this unjust war only strengthen their desire to obtain that. Even if they are not prepared to make such a step, there should be a clear answer from EU on the accession of Ukraine. And not only Ukraine, but also Republic of Moldavia and Georgia. In the future, countries like Poland, Romania and the Baltic states can and should assist Ukraine in obtaining that.
Without a recognition of the fact that Sluha Narodu and other parties share the same values as other similar parties from Europe, any accession would be made impossible (mainly due to political resistance from hardliners). And when this horrible war will be over, Mr. Zelenskyy and Ukrainians themselves will have to show their desire to become members of the EU is as strong as it is now. Especially when tough reforms will have to be implemented.