All politics aside, our author A.R. has developed some highly scientific factors to measure just any country’s level of Europeanness. From cross-walk etiquette to use of dill, let’s see how Ukraine is doing in this special study…

Leaving aside all political implications surrounding the current situation in Ukraine for a moment, everyone knows that any nation seeking EU membership has to fulfil a ton of more or (often) less reasonable and annoying requirements to be considered for joining the endless fun that we call Europe. So naturally the amount of compatibility between Ukraine and the EU is a common source of discussion in Ukraine right now. Though in no way having been appointed as such, I’ve decided to act as an envoy of the European Commission to measure potentially preexisting Europeanness (whatever that means) and growing tendencies towards it in Ukraine and to provide a further binding agenda for following diplomatic relations with the place. Thereby, I obviously categorically ignore all forms of nonsense that I feel have no real impact for me personally, as I presuppose they probably don’t really matter to anyone else either (like cucumber angles, foreign policy etc.) and issues I’ve been too lazy to actually do any research on (such as all things related in any way to economics or law etc.).
A super-duper hyper-scientific matrix has been conceived in order to measure EU-compatibility. After long alcohol-ridden discussions with sociologists (they might also have been musicologists or gynaecologists or something) I’ve decided to use the following categories as indicators:

Use of dill

This one may not seem quite as important to some of you readers as it is to me, but as this is my study and I absolutely despise dill I’ve decided to put it at the very forefront of my assessment. I also strongly suggest that this be acknowledged as a key factor and premise for potential rapprochement by both European and Ukrainian government officials! Anyway, I remember from other previous imaginary fact finding missions that had sent me all the way to Russia and Belarus, the heaps of dill that were arbitrarily administered to any sort of dish, without regard to my disapproving passive aggressive frowns. You may not care about my personal irrational hatred of dill – but this is Belarus (Europe’s last Dill-tatorship!) and Russia we’re talking about here… Need I say more? Really? Ukraine…?

A food exception consumed without dill: vodka. | Photo: Morten Oddvik (flickr), CC BY 2.0

So. On a scale of 1 to 10, 1 being totally and utterly gross, and 10 being painfully good, Ukraine is hereby rated: “dill-icious” 🙁

Internet accessibility

This is where we’re all put to shame: Carpathian Mountains. Provincial by any standards. And yet, free internet everywhere. Not only does even the most run-down watering hole offer a stable and fast wi-fi connection for it’s guests, there is even publicly accessible wi-fi around the town. This in contrast, for instance, to Berlin, supposedly “Europe’s new Sili-cone Valley”, “creative hotspot” and so forth, where being able to use internet in a café is still considered some kind of science fiction extravaganza.

I’m not quite sure what method to use to rate this one. So let’s just say that if EU membership was based on internet accessibility, Germany would have to be excluded and Ukraine would become the new and most dominant EU power.

Bicycles

Bicycle-usage seems to have undergone quite the paradigm shift in Ukraine. Whilst only a few years ago bikes were considered to be devices only a suicidal maniac with a particularly morbid death-wish would consider using on the streets of Ukraine – not surprisingly, and quite rightly so, considering the preferred style of driving aesthetics in Ukraine – they are now found everywhere, contrary to any form of logic or sense of self-preservation.

And now, finally, some real reporting gathered in interviews and stuff: My source, a girl I met at a bar one night, tells me that this is mostly due to the rising gas prices. She also claimed to have friends who own a bicycle shop – supposedly they’ve been making the deal of their lives since the crisis with Russia started because now everyone is buying bikes to avoid high gas prices. However, my other source, an old drinking buddy of mine, gives testament to the fact that the trend had actually already started much earlier: His life-threatening bike accident already happened a couple of years ago, indicating that the Ukrainian bike movement had already started before the whole crisis deal.

And finally, it would seem that there’s probably also an ecological dimension to this whole bike phenomenon. Seeing however that this topic would probably need to be researched I prefer to just hint at it, giving my reader even further food for thought.

Anyway, this whole high gas prices issue seems quite European to me so on a scale of 1 to 10, 1 being practically non-European and 10 being hyper European, I’d say it’s all “fairly European”.

Not a toilet: Ukrainian pothole. | Photo: Eirik Reifsdal (flickr), CC BY 2.0

Toilets

I really wasn’t sure whether or not to present my account on this one because toilet hygiene has always been a bit of a sticky (ha!) subject in some Eastern European countries and also it’s unfair and mean to generalise and to judge people by the state of their toilet facilities. But for the sake of my mission, bestowed on me by the proud and ancient people of the European Union in form of none of the institutions representing it, I’ve decided to talk openly in this matter. Actually, everything was just hunky-dory. None of the much feared hole-in-the-ground kind of thing with newspapers for ass-wiping was to be encountered. However, the facilities of the further undisclosed hostel I was staying at that time spoke another, much darker and much more disgusting story. The English owner and his American friend managed to hold the toilet in a constant state of utter horribility of which I dare speak no further and which has left me deeply emotionally scarred.

Ok. So on a scale from 1 to 10, 1 being a post-apocalyptic, toxic and barren wasteland and 10 being a (particularly clean) fresh mountain spring, Ukraine’s toilet compatibility is measured at “totally European”.
(On a side note for possible future use by the Commission: Should either England (that is, if they do decide to beat it) or the US try for EU-membership at some point I recommend to keep this report in mind…)

Train punctuality

So far we have heard much signalising the existence of a mega-load of Europeanness in Ukraine. Unfortunately, this next point challenges every conclusion we might have come to so far. Here’s what happened. My train from L’viv to Kraków was to leave at 23:59 pm. When I got to the station my cars were standing there waiting. The rest of the train was still to be connected before it could leave. This happened at 23:50 or so. At precisely 23:59 my train left the station (this kind of thing actually occurred all the time during my fact finding mission there).

…Wow!! What the…, right?? Sorry Ukraine, but this is simply unacceptable for any European country with just an ounce of self-respect. We take pride in our unreliable train companies (luckily Polrail managed to save the day by delivering us to Kraków with a very European hour’s delay. Puh…!). However, I feel such pathological punctuality is at odds with many of the core beliefs we as Europeans hold dearest and are dedicated to most, and yes, further, to the very principles and ideas that the European Union was founded on. So I say: Either go join Japan or get a grip on yourselves! I advise that this needs to be dealt with before all other!

Actually no, don’t. | Photo: Neerav Bhatt (flickr), CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

So, unfortunately, on a scale from 1 to 10, 1 being Antarctica and 10 being any European rail company, Ukraine is rated “a super-far-away planet with highly intelligent and very much superior life forms”

Cross-walk etiquette

Ok. This one may be the most exciting new development I encountered on my entire mission. I remember exiting my hostel, drudgingly realising that I was going to have to cross some road at some time if I didn’t want to just circle my block for the rest of my two week stay. So anyway, I decided to go for it. Now, it is a well-known fact that crossing a street in Ukraine or Russia almost automatically results in certain death by taxi driver. All the more so at pedestrian cross-walks, as stupid foreigners like me tend to believe they might provide at least some sort of shelter from the dog-eat-dog world of Ukrainian traffic ethics. Anyway, so for the sake of the entertainment and education of my dear reader I decided to pull it off nonetheless and to put myself in mortal danger: I hesitatingly stuck one foot out towards the street. What happened next blew my mind. A taxi (!!) came to a screeching halt… At first I wasn’t sure if this wasn’t just a ploy to convey a false sense of security to me, so as to facilitate an all the more effective road-kill. But no. It was actually happening. I was being issued my right of way to cross the street. Now, to those of you who might say that this was probably just some weird and twisted singular travesty: so did I at first. But it happened again. Multiple times even. Truth be told, there were instances of the old “let’s see whether we drive faster we can just barely not collide with the crossing pregnant woman and the blind babushka”. But I firmly believe that every time a car stops at a cross-walk in Ukraine, Putin sneezes in his sleep and Ukraine becomes a little more EU.

One (almost) weapons-grade taxi. | Photo: Jacob Munk Stander (flickr), CC BY 2.0

On a scale of 1 to 10, 10 being Germany and 1 being Rome, I’d say Ukraine would be about “traffic light”. Keep up the good work!

This concludes my extensive study of new European tendencies to be encountered in Ukraine. In assumption that my meticulous assessment is going to be the sole standard for further diplomatic relations between the EU and Ukraine, fully aware of the impact it will have on global politics, unconditionally acknowledging the responsibility that comes with this, I draw the following conclusions: Certain tendencies are to be encountered in Ukraine which up to only a couple of years ago didn’t seem to even be in the realm of possibility. However, we see the need for fundamental change in two fields. This concerns, obviously, the unquestioned and unscrupulous use of dill and the pathological punctuality of the rail-way system. We strongly advise for further change in these two fields, but also recommend them as premises for further rapprochement.

Teaser Photo: Eirik Reifsdal (CC BY 2.0)

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