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TWR Research: Ukraine Political Crisis, East Vs West (Survey Results) #євромайдан

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It has been almost two months since the people of Ukraine went on the streets protesting against the government. The protest, which spread to many cities, is criticizing the decision of the Ukrainian government to reject European Union’s Association agreement in favor of improving trade and traditional relations with Russia. Since then, the government has failed to cool down the tempers. The situation became even worse recently when the government of Ukraine made a law that sums up protesting as illegal.  Protests which were gradually becoming mild, turned violent with protesters fighting the police and raiding government buildings.

While Ukraine is in the midst of a crisis, foreign media have been doing their best to propagate their own propaganda. Western media came out to the full support of European Union and the protests, whereas Russian media did their best criticizing the protests and supporting the Ukrainian government.

There was always this belief that Eastern Ukraine is more pro Russia, and western Ukraine is more tilted towards Europe. This division became prominent when pro-government rallies were organized in eastern parts of the country such as Donetsk. Though autonomous republic of Crimea is a part of Ukraine, people consider themselves as Russians and hold Russian passports. Crimea, along with rest of eastern Ukraine came out with strong support for the government.

At the time when divided media is dividing public opinion, it is very important to understand what actually is happening in Ukraine. For this reason, we surveyed native Ukrainians asking their opinion on recent protests and we got mixed responses as we had expected.

The survey was done asking a set of questions in person, on website and on social media from people belonging to different age groups, genders and regions of Ukraine.

We asked people, if given a choice between European Union and Russia, what would they choose? 60% of Ukrainians said they will prefer European Union, 33.33% said they want to align towards Russia or Customs union and 6.66% people said they want a free country, neither towards European Union or Russia.

Ukraine with EU or Russia ukraine political crisis

We then asked the same people if they think Ukraine may have a better future with European Union. 33.33% percent people said no. whereas 53.33% said yes and 13.33% people were unsure. This statistic gives an interesting insight when compared with the one above. A significant number of people who wanted Ukraine to incline towards European Union were confused and unsure if it is good for Ukraine, assuming that those who want Ukraine to incline towards Russia will always deny the possibility of a better future with European Union.

Ukraine's future with EU ukraine political crisis

European Union itself has been undergoing a financial crisis and the new member states, especially the countries of East Europe have in a number of times blamed EU of discrimination (take for example Bulgaria and Romania that are kept out of Schengen area). There are countries like United Kingdom who want to leave the European Union and there are countries like Iceland, Switzerland and Norway who do not want to join European Union. Greenland has left the European Union at its will. At this juncture, will Ukraine find a respectful position if it completely joins the European Union? Or bringing Ukraine to EU is just a plan to embarrass Russia? We asked the same question from the people we surveyed and we got mixed response: 40% people said yes, Ukraine may become a victim of discrimination, and 40% people said no.

Ukraine discrimination in EU ukraine political crisis

At the moment Ukraine is having a political crisis where protesters have been so far successful in getting the Prime Minister of the country resign. There are clashes between principles. Protesters are raising their voice and demonstrating because they have every right to do so. However, the government believes they are elected majority, brought by the majority of the people of Ukraine, therefore they have every right to govern and do not want to give up.

As we were analysing the survey results, we could clearly see the east and west divide among Ukrainian population, where east supporting the government and west against it.

Ukraine Map of protests ukraine political crisis

Ukraine political crisis

It is difficult to accurately determine which side has more supporters. In every democracy people have the right to elect their leaders and if they are not happy with the government then they have the right to make the government fall. Nevertheless, if the number of people who elected the government is more than the number of protesters, then is it democratic to force the government to quit? In any democracy, the party that has the largest support group should be the winning one… right? Considering the split of opinions between East and West dividing the country, it looks like one has the majority. I asked this same question to my Ukrainian friend who had come for a visit to India and he said that many west Ukrainians had boycotted the elections and did not cast their votes, thus president Viktor Yanukovich was put into power by easterns. So things might not be so simple after all.

European Union and Customs Union trying to gain Ukraine, made Ukrainians fight with each other, which is a sad reality. Now the question is not whether Ukraine will chose European Union or customs union, the question is whether Ukraine will let Yanukovich govern or not. He is serving one of the toughest times. After the resignation of Prime Minister Azarov, the President remains with less power. However, under the new constitution introduced in 2004, most of the power remains in the hands of the president. And the government can work for another two months without the Prime Minister.

The chaos in Ukraine started when the government refused to sign the Association Agreement with the European Union. An association agreement is different than permanent membership of European Union. Such an agreement facilitates the cooperation between European Union and signatory countries in areas that include development of political, trade, social, cultural and security links. This agreement does not ensure better jobs, better lifestyle, access to Schengen region and other facilities and benefits which EU member states might enjoy. However, this agreement may make it easier for Ukraine to join European Union in the future, requiring an approval in the parliament or a public referendum.

European Union has certain membership criteria, and among them some criteria where Ukraine fails as of today are:

  • stable institutions guaranteeing democracy, the rule of law, human rights and respect for and protection of minorities;
  • a functioning market economy and the capacity to cope with competition and market forces in the EU;

On the other hand, Russia has assured that it will not review its earlier signed agreements if the new government comes to the centre. Putin reiterated that the political crisis in Ukraine must be solved without any foreign interference. He further added, the international community, which has been calling on Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich to act in a civilized way amid the crisis, should urge the opposition to do the same.

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Sanskar Shrivastava is the founder of international students' journal, The World Reporter. Passionate about dynamic occurrence in geopolitics, Sanskar has been studying and analyzing geopolitcal events from early life. At present, Sanskar is a student at the Russian Centre of Science and Culture and will be moving to Duke University.

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Europe

Brexit: Three Logistics Concerns for Businesses

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After the vote on 23rd June 2016, for many businesses, it seemed there was ample time to prepare for Brexit. However, the UK is now one year away from leaving the EU and naturally, many business owners are becoming increasingly concerned about its impact.

A recent study showed that 94% of UK SMEs feel that the government is failing to listen to their Brexit concerns. There are also fears that HMRC’s new customs system will not be ready by the Brexit deadline.

For businesses, it is clear that there remains a lot of uncertainty about Brexit, including what trades deals may be formed and how they will affect British businesses. This is particularly true for logistics, where these three concerns are growing.

Cost Implications

For many companies, their number one concern is cost. In order to offset, businesses facing an increase in operating and logistics costs may have to pass this onto their customers, resulting in higher product prices – this is especially worrying for logistics companies like Tuffnells. This could result in a lower sales volume, making a dent in their bottom line.

This additional spend could come from several areas, including:

  • Taxes and tariffs: after leaving the single market, exporting or importing goods may be subject to new charges and restrictions, which could result in higher logistics costs
  • Fuel: The exchange rate of the pound dropped after the Brexit vote and it could fluctuate further after the deadline, resulting in increased fuel and transport prices

Business Systems

Coming out of the EU’s single market – where British businesses currently trade tax-free – presents more issues than cost alone. This includes implementing new business systems.

While HMRC are putting their own customs systems in place, businesses also face the same challenge. Staff will require training on new tariffs and customs, logistics procedures will have to be revised, and businesses will have to find systems and methods to deal with these new processes. All of this will eat into business hours and cost companies further money.

Border Controls

The introduction of new border controls will have several affects on British businesses, including cost, delays and further administrative processes. But leaving the EU will limit companies in another way: freedom of movement.

Pre-Brexit, EU workers had the freedom to move and work in any member state, but this will no longer apply to the UK. This means hiring workers from within the EU could be more difficult, time-consuming and expensive. With many British companies hiring migrant drivers to cover the UK shortage, this could severely impact transport.

The announcement of Brexit brought about uncertainty among UK businesses. Unfortunately, only speculation is possible until all trade deals have been announced and Brexit takes effect in 2019. However, if businesses prepare in these areas, it could help to minimise impact.

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Business

The Future of the UK Used Car Market

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It is an intriguing time in the UK auto market in 2018 with a range of political, economic and social factors influencing the industry. New car sales continue to fall for the 11th consecutive month with diesel taking the brunt of the slide. It is thought that this decline is due to the uncertainty over the Government’s clean air plans (including the 2040 ban on petrol and diesel), but also the economic climate and uncertainty over Brexit.

Sale of AFVs

Although new car sales continue to fall overall, there is evidence that the 2040 ban is influencing consumers with the sales of alternatively-fuelled vehicles (AFVs) rising steadily over the last 11 months, including a 7.2% rise in February compared to last year. Although this is unable to offset the free-falling diesel sector, it does show that motorists are beginning to prepare for the green car revolution. Motorists are also aware that there are many incentives for making the switch, plus there is now a wide range of excellent electric cars on the market.

Used Car Market

So, what does all this mean for used car dealerships? Sales have managed to maintain stability amidst the turbulence in the industry with a drop of just 1.1% in 2017 compared to 2016. This was largely thanks to the sale of used electric cars, which saw an increase of a staggering 77.1% in 2017. Hybrids were also up 22.2%. This goes to show that motorists are preparing for the future and still have the need to change automobiles, with the used car market being a much safer place to do this as it is a much smaller investment.

The Future

It is easy to see reputable used car dealerships like Shelbourne Motors performing well in 2018 and beyond as more and more second-hand electric cars become available. An increasing number of cities are imposing their own bans ahead of the 2040 ban, plus it is expected that there will be more clarity on the ban and the electric vehicle infrastructure will continue to grow. Additionally, the landscape of a post-Brexit UK will be clearer soon and this could encourage motorists to shop in the used car market.

The future of the used car market in the UK looks healthy despite the fact that there has been a great deal of uncertainty in the UK over the past year. Provided that dealerships are able to provide motorists with a range of second-hand electric automobiles, it is easy to see motorists opting to buy used as opposed to new as this can allow for big savings which is important in the current economic climate. The green car revolution is fully underway and this is what has managed to keep the used car market afloat during a challenging period.

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Environment

All Steam Ahead as Europe Goes Green

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Red, amber, green: and Europe is off on its big green venture. Yep, it’s true, Europe is finally on the right track in regards to future-proofing against climate change. To see just how it is doing this and what it is doing in regards to this, make sure to read on.

The abolition of fossil fuels by 2050

Some of Europe’s biggest countries are seeking to go fossil fuel free by 2050, and it’s brilliant. Denmark, a country widely regarded as being a leader in the struggle for a green future, is one such country seeking to do this. Yes, it might be ambitious. And yes, Danish officials openly admit that it is an ambitious venture. But, this old Nordic country is going full steam ahead with its ‘Energy Strategy 2050’ enterprise anyway in the hopes that within 32 years the whole country will be completely dependant on things that do not hurt our world. In fact, Denmark is even seeking to go one step further and go completely cashless. Well done, Denmark!

Cities are building green infrastructures

It appears that many European cities have seen the light in regards to what they need to do to save our planet and are now building green infrastructures to hold themselves up in the future. Yep, many cities around this famous old continent are changing the habit of a lifetime and going against a grain that has been in place for thousands upon thousands of years by swapping out their old, harmful infrastructures and ushering in new, safer ones to replace them. Bratislava, Slovakia is one such example: it has had a complete overhaul of its transport system and only runs low-emission buses, tree planting has become a serious occupation, roofs around the city have been made green and rainwater retention facilities have popped up everywhere. Yep, the Slovakian capital really has built a green infrastructure, despite a tight budget, and many other European cities are following suit.

Many big cities are clambering for green funding

Speaking of tight budgets, there seemingly is one across the whole of Europe when it comes to going green because many cities within the continent are having to clamber for funding in regards to it. But, thankfully, having to do all of this isn’t stopping these cities from doing so and going as green as they can. Yep, cities across the European continent are using a combination of EEA grants, municipal funding, crowdfunding and green bonds in order to go green: Copenhagen has done so and used its funding to upgrade is floodwater management and lighting systems to make them more eco-friendly, Paris has done so and used its funding to plant in excess of 20,000 trees and Essen, Germany has done so and used its funding to be named European Green Capital for 2017.

So, as you can see, the historic old continent of Europe is more than willing to embrace the future and, more specifically, the future needs of our planet. Let’s just hope that the rest of the world and its leaders *cough* Trump *cough* follow suit before it’s all too late.

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