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乌克兰事件不只是一场经济危机

Steven A. Cook 2014年03月04日

2011年爆发的埃及动乱不单单由经济问题引发,今天乌克兰的起义同样如此。对许多乌克兰人而言,这场游行更关乎国家的身份认同。

    本周,有关乌克兰政治冲突的消息继续占领各大媒体头版头条,当地武装人员也于周五占领了亲俄罗斯地区克里米亚。面对铺天盖地的新闻报导,人们很容易迷失。

    过去三年,全球各地的起义与示威此起彼伏,而记者、权威人士与分析师都喜欢将这些事件进行不恰当的类比。去年春天,伊斯坦布尔爆发抗议示威时,一些媒体猜测,塔克西姆广场会不会成为土耳其的“解放广场”。2011年初,埃及民众在位于开罗市中心的“解放广场”举行游行示威,最终终结了当时埃及总统胡斯尼•穆巴拉克的统治。现在,解放广场这个交通环岛已经成了起义成功的标志。

    更近一些,最近乌克兰起义者们将总统维克托•亚努科维奇赶下了台,记者们更直接将乌克兰起义与“解放广场”相提并论。这种比较或许能带来不错的版面效果,读者也可能对此很感兴趣,但在很大程度上,这种类比很肤浅。不错,打倒穆巴拉克和亚努科维奇的抗议活动都是在广场上举行的,广场的名字也有类似的来历,但除了这种最抽象的相似性以外,埃及和乌克兰两个国家的政治动向完全不是一回事。

    然而在某一方面,埃及和乌克兰民众确实面临着相同的挑战:他们的国家都已破产。这种境况进一步增加了这两个国家政治前景的不确定性。

    不管是2011年的埃及起义,还是最近的乌克兰游行,原因都不仅仅是民众对经济条件的不满。埃及人之所以走上街头,是因为想追求一个更自由、公平的社会;乌克兰民众举行示,则是为了表达对亚努科维奇的抗议——为了保住俄罗斯的一大笔财政援助,亚努科维奇拒绝签署一项欧盟协议。基辅爆发抗议活动的导火索可能直接与贸易、金融及国家经济福利相关。但对许多乌克兰人而言,这场游行更关乎国家的身份认同。

    西方分析人士和决策者们很可能在乌克兰政治问题还未解决、经济环境还相当脆弱的情况下就忍不住立即许诺经济援助、贷款担保、免除债务或签订国际货币基金组织(International Monetary Fund)合约。这些做法是积极的,而且政府官员深谙此道,但对乌克兰民众来说,他们有责任通过艰难的政治改革,来挽救国家经济,使它免于崩溃。

    长期以来,政策及学术界在“排序”问题上一直存有争议,即对于一个处于政治过渡期的国家来说,应该先发展经济还是先进行民主改革?解答这个问题的文章连篇累牍,但实际上,这个问题给出的选择根本就是错误的:这两件事应该打包进行。以埃及为例,穆巴拉克刚刚下台,人们就清晰地看到,经济的恶化会严重影响国家的政治局势与稳定性。2000年中期,埃及对外鼓吹宏观经济指标良好,民众起义后才发现国家已欠下巨额债务,补贴无法维持,贫困率和失业率(尤其在年轻人中)也高得惊人。政治局势的不确定性及穆巴拉克下台引起的骚乱也使得外汇的主要来源——旅游业急剧下滑,而在摇摇欲坠的油气行业,外资也大量出逃。

    As Ukraine's political strife continue making headlines this week, and as armed men on Friday occupy the country's pro-Russia region of Crimea, it's easy to get lost in the news.

    Over the last three years, as uprisings and demonstrations have erupted around the world, journalists, pundits, and other analysts have wrongly drawn parallels between these events. When protests broke out in Istanbul last spring, some news outlets wondered whether Taksim Square was Turkey's "Tahrir Square" -- a reference to the now iconic traffic roundabout in central Cairo where Egyptian demonstrations brought an end to then president Hosni Mubarak's rule in early 2011.

    More recently, journalists covering Ukraine's uprising against ousted President Viktor Yanukovych have made direct comparison to Tahrir Square. These comparisons make great copy and perhaps keep viewers interested, but they are largely superficial. It is true that the protests that brought down both Mubarak and Yanukovych were in squares whose names are derived similarly, but other than at that most abstract level, the political dynamics in Egypt and Ukraine are hardly analogous.

    Yet there is one specific area where the Egyptians and the Ukrainians have strikingly similar challenges: Both countries are broke. And this raises the prospects for further political instability.

    Neither Egypt's 2011 uprising nor the recent demonstrations in Ukraine was principally about economic grievances, however. Egyptians poured into the streets wanting to live in a freer and more just society. Ukrainians were responding to Yanukovych's rejection of an agreement with the European Union in favor of a generous financial assistance package from Moscow. Although the trigger for the protests in Kiev may have been linked directly to trade, finance, and the country's economic well-being, for many Ukrainians, the demonstrations were about their country's identity.

    There is a temptation for Western analysts and policymakers to rush into Ukraine's currently unsettled political and tenuous economic environment with promises of aid, loan guarantees, debt relief, and an International Monetary Fund agreement. This is positive -- and something that bureaucrats know how to do -- but Ukrainians have an obligation to undertake difficult political reforms to improve the chances that the country's economy does not collapse.

    Within the policy and academic communities there has long been a debate about what is often referred to as "sequencing." That is, should countries that are undergoing political transitions focus on economic development or democratic reform? Although efforts to answer this question have taken up reams of paper, it actually sets up a false choice. Countries need to do both simultaneously. Consider, for example, Egypt. It became clear relatively quickly after Mubarak's fall that a deteriorating economy would have an impact on the country's politics and stability. Although Egypt boasted good macroeconomic indicators during the mid-2000s, the uprising laid bare a reality of massive debt, unsustainable subsidies, stunning rates of poverty, and high unemployment, especially among young Egyptians. The political uncertainty and chaos around Mubarak's fall also contributed to steep declines in tourism -- a principal source of foreign currency -- and also chased away foreign investments outside a faltering hydrocarbon sector.

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