Why Donald Tusk was right to call for unity in Ukraine
On 19th February, the president of the European Council, Donald Tusk, was in Ukraine to give a speech to the country’s parliament (Verkhovna Rada). In his passionate presentation Tusk reaffirmed the European Union’s deep commitment to Ukraine’s safety, independence and prosperity. He also warned Kiev against using populist and nationalist tactics. What significance does Donald Tusk’s speech have? And, why is the problem of nationalism – belying many European countries at the moment– potentially an existential threat for Ukraine?
The end of February is an important time in Ukrainian politics. The period has become a symbolic time of remembrance for those who were killed during the final stages of the Maidan demonstrations. The so-called Heavenly Hundred were killed by police snipers in the last days of the disgraced ex-president of Ukraine Viktor Yanukovych’s rule. “I have come to you on the fifth anniversary of the dramatic Maidan events, on the anniversary of the Revolution of Dignity, to thank all Ukrainians and their representatives gathered here”, Tusk said as he opened his speech.  Donald Tusk’s speech strategically draws upon the solemn sentiments held by Ukrainians in this pe