It would be interesting to speculate what would exist today in the United States if your Dec. 9 "Compromise with bandits" editorial appeared in the 1860s in response to Abraham Lincoln's signing a political compromise with the South. The United States would not have remained united if Lincoln had sought conciliation with those whose actions were meant to destroy it.
When one compromises with "bandits," one allows them to continue to be what they are. In Ukraine, their actions have seriously weakened independence for 13 years. How will Ukraine be stronger now after power has been transfered to the parliament, where they still have great influence?
President Kuchma's call for a shift of power from the presidency to the parliament ("Kuchma's great U‑turn," Aug. 29) could be an acknowledgement that Viktor Yushchenko would become president within two years time. If this occurs, the benefits of the existing strong presidential powers would no longer be available to the present "party of power." Worse still, these powers could now be used against it to settle old scores. Strong presidential rule is only an asset if you are in control of it.
In Ukraine's political landscape, the only place where the existing "party of power" could still have influence after the next presidential election is in the Rada. The rules of the last parliamentary election allowed it to obtain a significant role in it, even though it finished a distant third in the popular vote.
It is maybe now in the interest of the president and his supporters to shift power into this political body, where they still would be able to use their position for their own benefit.
For Ukraine, the move from presidential to parliamentary democracy would not necessary solve anything. The problems that have plagued Ukraine are not a result of the existence of the wrong type of political system, but how it is used (or abused).
A strong presidential system may in fact be most beneficial to Ukraine at the present time. Ukraine is now seeking European Union and NATO membership. To achieve these goals will requires the implementation of rapid reforms, so Ukraine can catch up with it East European counterparts. A strong central authority could implement the needed changes.
What Ukraine needs today, more than political reform, are politicians who are willing to use their power to build a nation that allows all Ukrainians to be able to benefit from independence, not just themselves.
In the editorial "Welcoming the Pope" ( June 14 ), the point was raised that it was difficult to understand why the pope's visit to Ukraine raised such consternation among some Orthodox. One reason for this can be found when one views the pope's visit in both political and religious terms.
The Russian Orthodox Church is closely tied to Russian political aspirations. Before communism, when the Russian Empire existed, the church strongly promoted the empire's reach and power. One of the cornerstones of the empire was the subjugation of Ukraine. Not surprisingly the Russian Orthodox Church still has nearly half of its parishes in Ukraine. When communism ended, the Russian nostalgia for the old empire's influence still remained. If Russia however loses its church's hold in Ukraine, one of the keys of retaining the old empire's influence will be lost.
Although today the Russian Empire formally no longer exists, Western Europe still accepts the Russian sphere of influence in the region of the former Soviet Union. This has resulted in the continued existence of a line that divides Europe. It has many times been drawn between Western Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy. This religious divide mimics the political divide. Only when this line disappears will one be able to speak of a united Europe.
The pope's visit will help remove this dividing line. When he steps on Kyiv soil he will be indicating to the world that the centuries old rule in this region of Europe by Russia no longer exists. He will be telling both Western Europe and Russia, that the divide cannot continue to remain, if an independent Ukraine now exists.
The pope's trip will be historic for helping make the goal of a united Europe become a reality.
Sir, Ukraine's increased level of military co-operation with Russia ("Kiev-Moscow pact could threaten Nato links", January 22) reflects an assessment in Ukraine that the new US administration will not possess as much interest in Ukraine as the outgoing one did.
Ukraine's relations with Nato are dependent on US support. Its ability in the past to go much farther in co-operation with Nato than Russia was a result of this support. The seeking of close ties with Nato always infuriated the Kremlin. However, Moscow could not fully display its scorn against Ukraine, for such action would bring a rebuke from Washington.
The sense that Ukraine will now have to go more alone in its relationship with Russia leads to the development of a more pragmatic policy towards its eastern neighbour. Actions that could anger Russia will be avoided. Ukraine already has adjusted its foreign policy by replacing Borys Tarasyuk, its foreign minister, who had a pro-west leaning.
It remains to be seen whether these ajustments in policy are justified. History indicates that a certain level of realignment would be necessary. Many members of George W Bush's foreign policy team served during the previous Bush presidency.
Ukraine cannot forget the lack of support from President Bush in 1991, when he told Ukraine not to seek independence. The manner in which relations between the new administration and Ukraine develop will determine whether the present adjustments are warranted or will be reversed.