March 12 - Ukraine is a ''wake up call'' for Europe struggling against disintegration warns George Soros. Rough Cut (no reporter narration).
The crisis in Ukraine should be a wake-up call to the European Union to remember the purpose of the bloc, as it struggles to avoid disintegration after financial disaster, billionaire financier George Soros said on Wednesday (March 12). Soros, who is active in Ukraine after setting up a foundation promoting democracy there 24 years ago, said the 28-member bloc should unite to help Ukraine and show it can work effectively as it tries to repair damage to the currency area. The 83-year-old investor, who famously broke the Bank of England by making $1 billion betting against the pound in 1992, said imposing sanctions on Russia was not the best way forwards. Giving Ukraine financial and technical assistance would be more effective, he said. He called on the EU to respond to Russia's intervention in Ukraine by helping uphold a form of government and rule of law that many Ukrainians wanted. He said Europe had not done enough for Ukraine as it sought to ally itself, allowing Russian President Vladimir Putin to easily outmaneuver the bloc and gain power in Ukraine. He called for a Marshall Plan for Ukraine and criticised Europe for being "totally unprepared for this crisis." Soros has long argued the EU has become imbalanced and criticised Germany's policies to save the euro, saying austerity measures Chancellor Angela Merkel forced upon Europe had aggravated the crisis. He was in London promoting his new book, "The Tragedy of the European Union - Disintegration or Revival?" But despite concerns over the eurozone, Soros said he did not think the collapse of the EU was anywhere near immediate even with countries like Britain reconsidering their membership. In the wide-ranging news conference, Soros warned that should Britain leave the European Union it would cost the country jobs. Prime Minister David Cameron has pledged an in-out referendum by 2017 should his Conservative party win the election next year. (SOUNDBITE) (English) GEORGE SOROS, SAYING: "I would argue passionately that they should not fail as an experiment and I think events in Ukraine are a wake up call to face that issue, because Ukrainians have effectively proven that they are willing to sacrifice their lives to be closer to a Europe that is at the same time in the process of disintegration." "It is a challenge and I hope that Europe will respond to it and actually rediscover its original mission because that's what got lost in this distortion that occured." "It's very important to respond and respond the right way which is not necessarily to impose sanctions on Russia but to actually help Ukraine financially and also technical assistance, something like a European Marshall Plan for Ukraine, that would be the right response." "Europe was totally unprepared for this crisis and Putin outmanoevred Europe with no difficulty because Europe, true to form under German leadership, demanded a lot and offered very little to Ukraine, so it was not difficult for Putin to come up with a better offer, where Putin miscalculated is in the response of the Ukrainian public. Actually he has a blind spot....it is beyond his comprehension and his expectations that a nation could actually have a spontaneous reaction." "I will leave it to the British business community, particularly the multi-nationals that set up factories here as an entry point into the common market, to explain to the British public what they stand to lose - in one word - jobs."