Reforms progress or rollback: what do diplomats, businesses and experts think

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Civil society, which should become a pillar of democratic institutions stability, should focus on a continuous reform process to bring about further changes in Ukraine over the next 5 years. This was empathized by the ambassadors of the Western powers at the Forum “Commitment, trust, inclusivity: vision of reforms for tomorrow. Civil society proposals” organized by the Reanimation Package of Reforms on May 22.

During the event, the final discussion of the Toronto Principles (Key Reform Priorities in Ukraine) and 12 industry-specific briefs on various areas of government policy was held. These documents will be presented at the Third Ukraine Reform Conference in Toronto on July 2-4, 2019.

“Ukrainians should realize that Toronto Principles are common principles for all. It is impossible for the civil society experts to coordinate their efforts only with each other – it is necessary to communicate their vision to active citizens. In Toronto, we strive to create an interactive platform where ideas will be shaped for the next 5 years,” said Roman Vashchuk, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Canada to Ukraine.

Strong civil society is the foundation of a developed democratic state, emphasized Martin Hagström, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Kingdom of Sweden to Ukraine.

We are living at a time when everything is changing rapidly, but Sweden continues to support Ukraine, development of a strong civil society that plays an important role in generating ideas and developing institutions in all countries.

Hugues Mingarelli, Head of the EU Delegation to Ukraine, urged everyone not to rest on their oars and to continue implementing reforms.

New Ukrainian leaders should do no less than had been done in the past 5 years. We need to explain the new leaders what exactly should be done to continue reforms, in particular to maintain Ukraine’s macroeconomic stability. Ukraine’s full implementation of the Association Agreement with the European Union for Ukraine’s integration into the European Single Market is also extremely important.

In Ukraine, the interests of businesses and civil society coincide by 100%, which had been embodied in joint actions to restore economic stability and fight against corruption. Moreover, businesses have already begun to financially support civil society, said Tomasz Fiala, President of the European Business Association.

The richest nations in the world are the states with developed democracy and independent media, which Ukraine is very lacking – most of the media are controlled by oligarchs.

“The volume of direct foreign investments per capita in Ukraine lags far behind the European level. The main obstacles are corruption and the lack of rule of law,” added Fiala.

In order to implement the necessary changes, citizens from different spheres of activity and experts in particular should work together. Only then will we get the result.

“Civil society should get the right to speak on behalf of all Ukrainians rather than just themselves as public experts. Democracy is based on the will of people, therefore it is extremely important to listen to them. We have no right to become the aristocracy of the civil society, therefore we should listen more to what the Ukrainians are saying,” said Taras Shevchenko, the Co-Chairman of the RPR Board, Director of the Centre for Democracy and Rule of Law.

The issue of the civil society importance for the development of the country was also discussed by the representatives of the Government.

“One of the greatest values of Ukraine is its powerful civil society which constantly pushes the authorities forward. It is also necessary to continue public reform discussions,” said Minister of the Cabinet of Ministers Oleksandr Saienko.

One of the most successful reforms in Ukraine in recent years is the power decentralization reform which allowed people in the regions to really feel the changes.

“The decentralization reform has reduced the level of corruption on the ground and made it possible for the people to influence local government, but it is necessary to demand the appropriate decentralization changes to the Constitution to make this reform irreversible,” said Oleksandr Korinnyi, Chairman of the Association of Amalgamated Territorial Communities.

The reform can be considered completed only when people have felt it on the ground, agreed Serhii Pinchuk, Member of the Coordinating Council “Rivne Reform Council”, RPR expert.

The decentralization reform has succeeded because of the developed infrastructure of this reform – people went to the villages, explained why local residents will benefit from amalgamation, and told about the advantages of the amalgamated territorial communities.

According to him, one more successful reform in Ukraine is healthcare reform:  “Uliana Suprun’s team has been constantly communicating with the regions. Local coalitions are the very infrastructure that should be engaged in implementing reforms.”

However, in general, communication of the reforms implementation in Ukraine in recent years has in fact been a failure, believes Nataliia Lyhachova, Member of the RPR Board, Chairperson of the NGO “Detector Media”, and this communication was failed by both the authorities and public activists.

All successful reforms were used by the authorities solely as attention-grabbing stunt, without the demonstration of existing problems and constructive criticism. Moreover, even unbiased journalists often paid too much attention to personalizing the shortcomings of certain reforms.

It is necessary to continue the reforms that had already been launched regardless of which political forces were their initiators, said MP Hanna Hopko.

Major reforms that have to be continued: judicial, decentralization, as well as deregulation reforms.

 

Additional information

You can submit proposals to the Principles of Priority Reforms in Ukraine from the Civil Society (Toronto Principles) and 12 sectoral briefs via the link by May 29. The draft documents were prepared by the Civil Society Working Group under the coordination of the RPR. The finalized documents will be presented in the framework of the Third Ukraine Reform Conference in Toronto on July 2-4.

 

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