Sunday, October 19, 2014

Australian Ukrainians reply to ‘Australian Sellout’ Blog
The Ukrainian community in Australia has expressed an opposing view to my recent blog titled “Australian Sellout – Putin to Attend G20.”
In the blog, I wrote that Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott seemed to have reversed his strong position on not allowing Vladimir Putin to enter Australia to attend the G20 meeting next month. I won’t repeat Putin’s long list of crimes why he shouldn’t.
I concluded the blog by stating: “Surely the Ukrainian Australian community will not sit by passively. They and Australians of x-captive nations’ descent should throw Abbott and his supporters out during the next elections.”
Stefan Romaniw, an official of the Australian Federation of Ukrainian Organizations and noted global Ukrainian civic leader, wrote that my comment about throwing Abbott out “is not in line with our policy.”
Romaniw pointed out that the Abbott government has been the strongest public opponent of Putin. “They have not only criticized strongly his actions, but also taken it to the UN with resolution 2166 by Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop,” he wrote.
No argument there. As I had written, Abbott has been on the frontlines of supporting Ukraine and castigating Russia before and during the war. But his comments about Putin’s presence at the G20 meeting appeared to be a reversal.
“The Abbott government has been stern and unequivocal in its dealing with Putin. I would suggest Abbott changed diplomatic rhetoric when he took on Putin and his reps by saying we know it was you, stop blaming Ukraine re: MH17,” Romaniw continued.
Romaniw reaffirmed Abbott’s explanation that the G20 meeting is convened by consensus and even though he had expressed his point of view about not allowing Putin to enter Australia, the decision to allow him to participate in the meeting is not his alone. Romaniw wrote that he learned that the biggest supporters of Putin’s attendance were the US and Germany.
“We are working closely with Abbott and Julie Bishop and would not be throwing them out rather applauding them for their support and efforts. We also work closely with the opposition and have a very good bipartisan support position,” he concluded.
This is a case in point that local political relations and idiosyncrasies are key in building strong national policies. Just as in the US, not only were the Republicans on the frontline of supporting Ukrainian independence during the cold war. Occasionally, Ukrainian Americans with Democratic affiliations managed to harness their support as well.
As for Australia, a strong admonition against a politician who steps out of line is a useful tactic in expressing an opposing view and making sure he or she toes the line in the future. Ukrainians around the world will certainly be closely watching how Abbott responds to Putin’s cynical grins at the G20 table.

Good luck, Ukrainian Australians, and thanks for pointing out your side of the issue.