The Boxer's Punch

KIEV/BERLIN | | ukraine

KIEV/BERLIN (Own report) - With help of the Boxing World Champion, Vitali Klitschko, the CDU-affiliated Konrad Adenauer Foundation is in the process of establishing a pro-EU party in the Ukraine. In April 2010, shortly following the collapse of the Ukrainian pro-EU government of President Viktor Yushchenko and Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, Klitschko founded the party UDAR (in English "Punch"). The Konrad Adenauer Foundation is supporting this project as much as possible. The CDU explicitly admits that the foundation "assigned" Klitschko the task "of establishing" a Christian conservative party in the Ukraine. The boxer's popularity should raise UDAR to third place in the Ukraine's fall parliamentary elections. The party's success could be the prerequisite for creating a permanent pro-EU majority in the Ukraine - if the currently imprisoned Yulia Tymoshenko's "Fatherland" party, which also orients its policy on Berlin and Brussels, maintains its electoral strength. Recently Elmar Brok (CDU), Chairman of the Committee on Foreign Affairs in the European Parliament, told Vitali Klitschko about Berlin's interests in the Ukraine. According to Brok, "this key East European country" should neither for geopolitical, nor for economic reasons, be lost to Russia.

On Assignment

According to the internet portal of the CDU politician, Werner Jostmeier (from North Rhine-Westphalia) "the Konrad Adenauer Foundation has assigned" the prominent professional Ukrainian boxer, Vitali Klitschko, the task of "helping to organize and establish a Christian conservative party in the Ukraine."[1] Jostmeier, who, for many years, has been handling the question of the Ukraine - particularly as chair of the German delegation to the EU "Committee of the Regions" - considers that Klitschko "takes his position as leader of the party (...) very seriously." He wishes him "continued success," and hopes he will become "a political heavyweight" in the Ukraine.

Into the EU as soon as possible

For several years, Vitali Klitschko has been engaged in politics in the Ukraine. At the end of 2004, he supported the pro-western ("Orange Revolution") putsch in Kiev. Soon thereafter, he began his own political carrier and in 2006 was a mayoral candidate in the Ukrainian capital. Placing second, with 26 percent of the votes, he became a member of the municipal parliament, where, together with about a dozen other parliamentarians, he formed his "Block Vitali Klitschko." April 24, 2010, shortly after the pro-western president, Viktor Yushchenko was voted out of office and immediately following the termination of Tymoshenko's term of office, the boxer founded the "UDAR of Vitali Klitschenko" (Ukrainian Democratic Alliance for Reform party, translated, the acronym means "punch"). The UDAR party has already won 400 parliamentary seats in the Ukraine's 2010 municipal elections. The party's objective, according to the Konrad Adenauer Foundation, is "to integrate the Ukraine into the EU as soon as possible."[2]

Popular, Attractive

Klitschko's and the UDAR's chances of becoming an influential political force in the Ukraine are not bad. Ukrainian media commentators speak of Klitschko as mainly being known as a boxer, who is "popular" and "attractive," he is "familiar," he is "internationally respected" and has one of the lowest "disapproval ratings" of the country's politicians, a generally hated species.[3] Experts consider him to be competent, particularly for mobilizing voter segments, that are clearly pro-EU, but who, because of their disappointment with Yushchenko and Tymoshenko's government policies, refuse to vote for them. He has an "excellent opportunity" to win over those, who distrust "politicians of both sides," judges a social scientist in Kiev.[4] Only two years old, UDAR can already expect to take the five percent hurdle, it is prophesied in the capital. For Kiev's municipal elections, public opinion institutes were predicting last September that UDAR would score around 25 percent of the votes. Klitschko would like UDAR to emerge third strongest political force in the country, in the Ukrainian parliamentary elections October 28, "and sometime later, the second."[5] The world heavyweight champion's candidature in the next parliamentary elections in 2015 is considered possible.

Many Questions, Many Answers

Klitschko has been supported by the CDU-affiliated Konrad Adenauer Foundation for years. Back in 2009, the Adenauer Foundation, along with the Klitschko Foundation, a community service organization seeking to help children and adolescents in the Ukraine, carried out a project entitled "Health of the Society," with the objective of "transforming Ukrainian social values," explains Nico Lange, director of the foundation's Ukrainian branch office.[6] The cooperation has become intense since UDAR was founded. In January 2011, the Adenauer Foundation organized a three-day Klitschko visit to Berlin, where he met with CDU General Secretary, Hermann Gröhe, the Chairman of the Adenauer Foundation, Hans-Gert Pöttering, a former President of the European Parliament and other prominent CDU politicians. The talks were for his "party, still in the process of formation, of great help,"[7] explained Klitschko immediately afterwards. "We had many questions and here we have found many answers."[8] The Adenauer Foundation had announced, even before the Ukrainian politician's arrival, that he would also meet with interested official bodies - with "senior advisors of the German Chancellery and in the Foreign Ministry."[9]

Misunderstood

The Adenauer Foundation has maintained its support for Klitschko and UDAR throughout. In October 2011, it organized a visit for the Ukrainian party leader to Thuringia, where he, during his "two-day visit, could also discuss questions of municipal politics."[10] In November 2011, the Ukrainian beacon of hope visited the CDU party congress in Leipzig, where he met with Berlin's influential politicians. In March 2012, in its Brussels "European Office" the foundation put on an event entitled "The Ukraine at the Crossroads" - with Elmar Brok (CDU) Chairperson of the Foreign Affairs Committee in the European Parliament and UDAR leader Klitschko. As evidenced by a report on the event, Klitschko explicitly expressed his gratitude "for the support of the Konrad Adenauer Foundation and the CDU" in setting up his party.[11] As one learns from the CDU politician, Jostmeier, the fact that the German side had even initiated the founding of UDAR - an absolutely blatant intrusion into the domestic affairs of a sovereign country - sheds a new light on reprisals during the summer of 2010, taken by the Ukrainian authorities against the director of the Adenauer Foundation in the Ukraine. He had been detained at the country's border and denied entry until the German government intervened in Kiev. The foundation's employee had speculated at the time that his contacts to the country's opposition were "possibly misunderstood." (german-foreign-policy.com reported.[12])

Europe's Granary

At the Adenauer Foundation's March event with Klitschko in Brussels, foreign policy politician Elmar Brok spoke rather frankly about why Berlin has such strong interest in the Ukraine. After all, that is "a country with great economic possibilities," with "a well educated population" and with "good agricultural prerequisites," he explained.[13] Under no circumstances does one want to lose "this key East European country" to Russia, which is also intensively seeking to win over the Ukraine; - "neither for geopolitical, economic, nor for historical reasons." Brok was quoted, saying "Europe's granary," is what he had "learned in school about the Ukraine," belongs "simply to Europe."[14] In his choice of terminology, Brok explicitly ties current German policy toward the Ukraine to the policy preceding the First World War. german-foreign-policy.com reports tomorrow.

Further information on the current German policy toward the Ukraine can be found here: Between Moscow and Berlin.

[1] Jostmeier trifft Klitschko; www.jostmeier.de 12.12.2011
[2] Eine Frage des Teamworks; www.kas.de 25.01.2011
[3], [4] Klitschko To The Rescue? www.kyivpost.com 12.01.2012
[5] Klitschko warnt vor blutigen Aufständen in Kiew; www.welt.de 30.03.2012
[6] Gesundheit der Gesellschaft; www.kas.de 12.10.2009
[7] Eine Frage des Teamworks; www.kas.de 25.01.2012
[8] Klitschkos Sparring in Berlin; www.ftd.de 26.01.2011
[9] Vitali Klitschko zu politischen Gesprächen in Berlin; www.kas.de 20.01.2012
[10] Klitschko besucht Thüringen; www.kas.de 11.10.2011
[11] Demokratie, Rechtsstaatlichkeit, Europäische Integration - die Ukraine am Scheideweg; www.kas.de 28.03.2012
[12] see also Kiewer Irritationen
[13] Demokratie, Rechtsstaatlichkeit, Europäische Integration - die Ukraine am Scheideweg; www.kas.de 28.03.2012
[14] Klitschko warnt vor blutigen Aufständen in Kiew; www.welt.de 30.03.2012