Sunday, May 25, 2014

Foreign Minister Baird's very undiplomatic brand of diplomacy

John Baird didn't waste any time congratulating Ukraine on the fact of its election.

Baird also takes a moment to crow about Canada's "long and proud history of providing election observers."

If this story from Victoria's Times Colonist is true, Canada's long and proud history of providing bilateral election observers began with the 2004 Ukrainian election and has been entirely limited to the Ukraine. We were part of multilateral observer missions to other countries prior to 2004 and we continue to be today, but in Ukraine we have an entirely different approach.

Why? Because the partisan Russo-phobic Ukrainian-Canadians who make up the majority of the personnel being sent to Ukraine, would never be permitted to be part of those internationally sanctioned observer missions because of their vehemently partisan viewpoints. Election observers are supposed to be neutral.

But that partisanship extends all the way into Baird's office. His congratulatory press release on the election manages to mention Russia twice, in the most undiplomatic terms. Dude, you're Canada's top diplomat! Start acting like it!

There are 101 really important issues that Canada and Russia need to co-operate on, especially around the Arctic. The gratuitous anti-Putin rhetoric so beloved by Harper and Baird is undiplomatic, unprofessional, and not in Canada's interest.

As for that vaunted Ukrainian election, it sure looks to me like they've elected a Yanukovich crony. The "Chocolate King" was also the king of the national bank under Yanukovich, was he not?

And the fact that he was a prime financier of the 2004 "Orange Revolution" means he knows his way around the CIA- State Department's office of colour revolutions.

And the multiplicity of hats the man wears should lead to some questions of just how a billionaire who was head of the national bank of a now-bankrupt state really accumulated his fortune.

At the same time, he has business interests in Russia and recognizes that continued good relations with Russia are essential for Ukraine's long-term prosperity.

And on top of all that, it falls to him to impose the EU-IMF austerity agenda on a people who are already among the most impoverished in all of Europe.

Ukrainians live in interesting times.

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