Boycott of Ukrainian embassy events is not the answer

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Aug. 15, 2011, 8:49 a.m. | Letters — by Myroslaw Smorodsky
In a recent Kyiv Post article, a colleague, Taras Kuzio, has called for a Ukrainian diaspora boycott of Ukrainian embassy events in protest of the trial of [ex-Prime Minister] Yulia Tymoshenko and her Aug. 5 arrest. Although I wholeheartedly share his deep concern with the regression of the rule of law in Ukraine, I most respectfully do not concur in the notion that boycotts of Ukrainian diplomatic events are the appropriate response. Diplomatic outposts are not merely envoys of a country's political regime. They are ambassadors of an entire nation and its people as well. Diplomats are also charged with the duty of protecting the interests of their county’s citizens abroad and advancing the national interests of their home country’s populace as a whole – in cultural, educational, economic, and humanitarian fields. Further, diplomats are a communicational bridge between the societies of host and home country. A boycott will needlessly create a chilling effect and a disruption of the cooperative programs between Ukraine and its Diaspora that benefit ALL Ukrainians – including Tymoshenko supporters. History has shown that isolation of any regime is counterproductive and only further entrenches opposite sides into a Gordian Knot-like stalemate of non-communication ultimately ending in a deafening silence.

There is an ancient adage “Don’t kill the messenger!” Rather, it would be ultimately more productive to send -- in a persistent and ever more vociferous barge -- clear and unequivocal messages through the Ukrainian diplomatic emissaries that the present erosion of the rule of law in Ukraine is unacceptable, not merely to the Ukrainian diaspora, but more importantly to western countries. What better way to express these deep concerns than face to face in a frank but appropriate manner at Ukrainian diplomatic events.

Myroslaw Smorodsky
American attorney and governor of the Ukrainian American Bar Association
Mahwah, New Jersey, USA
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