Today sees the signing an EU association agreement between three former Soviet republics; Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia. This is a milestone in the development of the European Union and is likely to cause tensions with Russia. Viktor Yanukovych famously backed out of signing this very agreement last year, sparking waves of protest. It was essentially the flashpoint which led to the latest Ukrainian revolution. I was in Ukraine in October and never in a million years did I think that things would escalate so quickly and with such tragic consequences.
These EU accession agreements are something to celebrate and provide an opportunity for closer economic cooperation and should in theory, foster stronger, more positive international relations. In Ukraine the story is unfolding on a daily basis. Georgia, an EU-aspirant country, has undergone rapid social and economic transformation over the past decade and the signing of this agreement is an important step on the long road to European integration. (They also make rather nice wine too!) Moldova, apparently the poorest country in Europe, stands to gain a foothold in valuable economic markets. For existing EU members this agreement also provides new opportunities for business, investment and dialogue. To celebrate, here are some of my favourite Eurovision tunes from Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova. Happy Friday!
Gaitana was a fantastic ambassador for Ukraine in 2012, this anthem of Euro 2012 stood in stark contrast to the allegations of racism which plagued the organisers of the football championship. Gaitana herself faced racist attacks from Ukrainian politicians. She took it all in her stride and belted out her song for Europe.
The Georgians are famous for their hospitality and at Eurovision they are by far, the nicest, most welcoming delegation of all. Relative late-comers to the Eurovision party, debuting in 2007, they've entered something different every year. It's this rich diversity which keeps the contest alive. This song from 2010 is one of my absolutely favourites, Sofia was probably the best singer in the contest that year and I was ready to pack my bags for Tbilisi in 2011. Sadly it wasn't to be, what's another year?
Moldova have a been a bit hit and miss with me. Of their recent offerings I've loved their songs from 2012 and even 2010. Who could resist a bit of 2009's 'hora in Moldova' too? For me though, the classic and still best Moldovan entry was their debut in 2005. The song was catchy, well-performed and of course, the appearance of the drumming granny sealed it's fate as one of the best, most memorable gimmicks of recent times. The group, Zdob şi Zdub, went on to represent the country again in 2011. Rumour has it that the original granny was lined up for the job of riding the unicycle but an unfortunate accident during rehearsals meant that she was replaced by a younger model...
Good luck to my colleagues Göran and Per who are attending a celebratory event this afternoon at the Ukrainian embassy in Stockholm. Europe's living a celebration!