George Soros claims that Ukraine should be more of a priority than Greece, and EU leaders should focus on the crisis enveloping a country which shares European values. “Here is a country that wants to be European, is sacrificing lives for that principle, and yet Europe is ignoring it. Europe needs to wake up before it’s too late,” he told the BBC.
Economic strife in Ukraine
The Ukrainian economy is being devastated by the armed conflict in the East of the country, with GDP falling by 7% and a further 5% decrease projected for this year, and the Ukrainian hryvnia has lost over half its value against the dollar. The cost of imports has increased accordingly and inflation has increased to over 20%.
George Soros says that the $17 billion in financial aid provided by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) is not enough. He proposes a scheme which involves delivering $50 billion in financial aid. The EU balance of payments facility has $47 billion in unused funds, and a financial stability mechanism has $16 billion.
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The difficulty lies in providing these funds to a non-EU country like Ukraine, which would require a change in regulations. George Soroshas offered to add $1 billion of his own money to the cause.
George Soros foresees Europe-wide crisis if no action is taken
The plan has drawn criticism from those who claim that it is more generous to a non-EU country than to Greece, which is currently inside the eurozone. George Soros says that the Greek situation is “a long-festering wound that was mishandled from the beginning. Now there is a lot of bad blood and the best you can hope for is to muddle through”.
George Soros believes that Greece only has a 50% chance of staying in the eurozone, but European leaders should not make the same error in Ukraine, where the appetite for radical reform is much greater. “We must not drip-feed Ukraine, but allow it to flourish,” he says. “That is what is needed to turn the tables on Putin who is the aggressor”.
He has some dire predictions if no action is taken. “If Europe doesn’t help, Ukrainian blood currently being spilt will become European blood. If Russia tries to divide the Baltics, who have large Russian-speaking populations but are also members of Nato, then Nato will be obliged to defend them. It is much more serious than people realize,” he said.