26 April, Thursday


2018 should be a year of reforms for Ukraine - Vadim Trukhan

Specialist view

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Ukrainian diplomat, Chairman of the Board of the "European Movement Ukraine", Director of the Coordination Bureau for European and Euro-Atlantic Integration in 2008-10, Vadim Trukhan answered Eurasia Diary’s questions about the results of the last year for Ukraine as well as about the predictions for 2018.
 
How do you assess the last year for Ukraine?
 
- 2017 was a year of the lost chances and at the same time a year of hope. Why? The matter is that Ukrainians hoped for peace, for significant development of social and economic situation in the country, for increasing of living standards. These hopes didn’t come true last year. At the same time, the expectations of the skeptics did not materialize. The Great War did not break out, the aggressor did not move farther into the territory of Ukraine by any meter, the economy did not collapse. Therefore, the people have a hope that in 2018 the situation will improve significantly in all spheres of the life.
 
Speaking more specifically, during the year 2017 in Ukraine, there were three key failures and three key breakthroughs.
 
Failures
 
First, it was not possible to achieve serious results in the field of fighting corruption. In fact, this task will be a key for the entire 2018.
 
Secondly, rather modest indicators were achieved in implementation of the Association Agreement with the EU. According to the experts, only 11% of the planned had been achieved.
 
Thirdly, in the relations with Russia, "there is no only the absence of any light at the end of the tunnel", on the contrary, there are signs for appearing of a frozen conflict, which is not in the interests neither of Ukraine nor the region as a whole.
 
Achievements
 
First of all, Ukraine managed to maintain a balance of power among the international community in support of its own independence and sovereignty. A good indicator of that is the UN General Assembly voting on the resolution about situation of human rights in the Crimea. As in December 2016, 70 countries voted for, 76 abstained, 21 were non-voting members and only 26 countries were against.
 
Secondly, Canada and the United States decided to provide lethal weapons for Ukraine. Obviously, it will bring peace on the next day immediately.  However, it will become a green light for our “partners”. In addition, the in the Kremlin, now , they will think seven times before provoking regular military operations on the frontline with Ukraine. 
 
And of course, a well-known visa-free status since June 2017, Ukrainians can easily travel to the European Union. This decision showed the commitment of our European partners to the idea of a comprehensive deepening of the integration  with Ukraine.
 
Indeed, it is considered that the visa-free regime is a key achievement of Ukraine in the past year. What about the further steps planned for the continuation of  the integration with Europe in the next year?
 
- In my opinion, 2018 will become fundamentally important in relations with the EU. Confidence of some EU leaders towards Ukraine has been shaken. This is explained by very low rate of reforms and failure to fulfill the obligations assumed in the certain areas of cooperation. Therefore, Ukraine, first of all, will need to "catch up" with the implementation of the Association Agreement. At the same time, there are a number of specific tasks, the implementation of which will significantly bring the country closer to Europe. This includes the conclusion of a long-awaited Agreement on the Common Aviation Area, deepening of energy cooperation and expansion of cooperation in terms of extending to Ukraine the advantages of the Single Digital Market of the EU. In addition to that, it includes practical support from the EU of the key reforms, which are being implemented in Ukraine, such as service, decentralization, judicial and law enforcement systems.
 
How are things in the internal and political life?  Do you consider the possibility of appearance another Maidan?
 
-  At the moment, the internal political situation in Ukraine is not quite simple. On the one hand, four years after the Revolution of Dignity, key-state institutions, such as the Armed Forces of Ukraine, the National Guard, the relevant law enforcement and special bodies, were re-created from the beginning. These institutions are very important in protection of independence and sovereignty. At the same time, the political system needs to be rebooted. On the wave of post-revolutionary euphoria, too many populists, demagogues, and outspoken lobbyists of the interests of individual financial-industrial groups came to power. Ukrainian society is looking forward to the adoption of a new electoral legislation based on European model (Electoral Code) and subsequent arrival of qualitatively new political forces and better-prepared political leaders to the parliament and government who would have no connections with the oligarchs.
 
At the same time, people are tired of revolutions. Therefore, there are no prerequisites for regular mass protests and Maidans across the country, as it was in late 2013 or early in 2014, at least for now. The best way to improve the Constitution and laws is doing it evolutionary, through the work in the parliament and in the relevant expert communities. The optimal way to find effective managers in power is elections.
 
But, probably, there are the things that disappointed you in 2017?
 
- Of course. And there are enough of them. In addition to these general failures, I am, as a citizen of Ukraine, completely unhappy that the crimes of Yanukovych’s regime have not been investigated so far, primarily the shootings of defenseless people during the Advantages Revolution, as well as the events in Odessa on May 2, 2014, which killed dozens of people.
 
I do not agree with the inadmissibly low rates of reforms, with emerging of tendencies toward authoritarianism in power, the weak work of diplomacy, the low GDP growth rates, the mass "migration" of Ukrainians to other countries for work and so on. I am personally disappointed by the lack of a strategy for the resumption of Ukraine's territorial integrity, as well as by the absence of any comprehensive and at the same time reasoned ideas on the part of the authorities regarding Russia. We still do not have any understanding of what to do with our "eternal neighbor", who still harbors hopes of destroying or completely subjugating our country.
 
And the last question. What is the major event of 2017 would you like to distinguish and what do you expect from the New Year?
 
- It is difficult to distinguish a single event. There were a lot of things. It is successfully held Eurovision Song Contest in Kyiv and the premiere of two terrific films "Chervony" and "Cyborgs", which had bigger box offices than many Hollywood blockbusters. Also, thousands of kilometers of constructed or renovated roads in the country. It has never been done earlier in the history of independent Ukraine and many other equally important decisions and events.
 
As  for me personally, as I am sure, for many millions of my fellow citizens, the first significant event, after more than 15 months of difficult negotiations was the exchange of prisoners, as a result of which, 74 Ukrainian heroes returned home on the eve of the New Year - servicemen and civilians persons.
 
The year 2018 will also be full of events and difficult decisions. This is the election year for the new old President of Russia. But this is the pre-election year in Ukraine. Therefore, it will be extremely difficult to achieve any significant breakthroughs in relations with Russia. At the same time, we should  expect from this year the return of all prisoners, and this is more than 100 people who still remain in the so-called "DNR" and "LNR", as well as more than forty Ukrainian political prisoners held in the Russian prisons according to false accusations. Ukraine will do all possible and impossible to return its people home. I don’t have any doubts about this!
 
In the domestic agenda for Ukraine, 2018 will be a year of heavy routine work. The key tasks are to achieve the implementation of the Association Agreement with the EU ahead of schedule, achieving GDP growth of at least 4-5%, improving people's living standards and reforms, reform and reforms once again! There is simply no other way.
 
Natalia Guliyeva

Eurasia Diary

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