Europe needs a success story. It has a chance with Ukraine, where two years ago, the people rejected injustice and demanded dignity as waves of demonstrations swept the country, inspiring the Euromaidan revolution.
That event was a stark rebuke to the previous regime, which existed chiefly to serve the interests of oligarchs. The new Ukraine is focused on combating corruption, establishing public institutions that serve the people instead of exploiting them, strengthening media independence, and creating an honest and competent judiciary. These efforts require deep reforms and steadfast persistence. Through the work of the International Renaissance Foundation and many of my own visits to Ukraine, I have seen firsthand the progress achieved to date.
But I am also realistic about the profound challenges that remain. The country has been at war with Russia and under tremendous economic pressure. An erosion of the gains achieved over the last two years would be a blow not just to the people of Ukraine, but to the European project as a whole.
Other crises—terrorist attacks, the refugee influx—have diverted the attention of Europe from Ukraine. This is understandable, and my Open Society Foundations are deeply engaged in these issues. But the new Ukraine is at a critical juncture, and right now it needs all the support it can get to maintain its moral and political integrity.
The Euromaidan instilled a renewed spirit of cooperation and solidarity in Ukraine. But that event was just the first step in the much longer process of building a nation. Transformations such as these require unity in times of crisis as well as times of calm. The chance to make Ukraine Europe’s next success story is now. It won’t be easy.