It was good news that at last the Kiev government and the pro Russia separatists in east Ukraine agreed a ceasefire and decided they needed to talk to each other. Reports suggest at least 2500 people have been killed so far in this civil war, and many more have been cast out of their homes as the two armies fight it out in built up areas.
The Kiev government needs to learn some hard lessons of democracy quickly if it is to win back its citizens and restore its authority and its badly damaged reputation. The first lesson is in a democracy we sort out our differences by arguments and votes, not by shells and bombs.
The second lesson is a government needs to respect minorities within its country and treat them fairly. Achieving a majority of votes or seats in Parliament does not entitle you to ignore or repress the minorities. If people wish to speak Russian in Ukraine they must be free to do so.
The third lesson is that whilst the majority view on particular policies and actions can prevail, there needs to be general consent to the machinery of government. Minorities need to accept the system for making and changing policy and for making and changing governments. If a significant geographical, or 0ther minority no longer thinks it can work within the constitutional structure of the state, the majority does have to look at the structure.
Instead of trying to convert this civil war into an EU and NATO versus Russia conflict Kiev needs to seek to calm things down and tackle an agenda of how government can be remodelled to restore the faith of most people in the east that a Kiev government can look after them as well, or create a regional government that handles the main issues they are worried about. I have no time for rebels who fire on their own government, nor for rebels who rely on Russian support to fight a civil war. The Kiev government needs to make sure more people in the east see no need to behave in this violent and undemocratic way. Shelling them does not help. They may need to give people in the east a vote on how they wish their future government to be structured. The Kiev government reluctance to trust the people is serving to undermine consent for the state. The Kiev government above all needs to protect and stand up for the many people in the east of their country who want to live in peace and are neither on the side of Russia nor the EU.