Reanimation package of reforms > News > Events > Top 5 “schemes” in the Ministry of Defense and returning Donbas and Crimea: discussion of experts and politicians

Top 5 “schemes” in the Ministry of Defense and returning Donbas and Crimea: discussion of experts and politicians

How to fight corruption in the Defence Complex? Is there progress in implementing NATO standards? How to regain the occupied territories and reintegrate the people? The topic was discussed at the Reforms Forum: On the Road to Vilnius during panel discussion #5 National safety and reintegration of temporarily occupied territories.

Corruption in the Military-Industrial Complex is a threat to safety

The key achievement of the Ministry of Defence in the first six months is changing the management of the Armed Forces. And in March 2020 the Armed Forces are preparing to transition from the Soviet model to the NATO. Alina Frolova, Deputy Minister of Defence of Ukraine, addressed the topic.

“There is no turning back anymore, the army is heading towards modernity”, proclaimed she.

Frolova listed three main objectives in defence procurement reform:

  1. to exclude the notion of “state defence order” as an outdated form of contracting;
  2. to make defence industry development planning competitive and transparent;
  3. to eliminate corruption risks when making closed decisions in defence procurement.

For the National Defence field, it is important to understand which exact needs of the Armed Forces can be satisfied by the domestic Military-Industrial Complex, draws attention Svitlana Panaiotidi, Deputy Minister for Development of Economy, Trade and Agriculture of Ukraine.

“For the first time in Ukraine’s history to assess the capabilities of the military-industrial complex, we are examining it, which will end in May this year”, said Panaiotidi.

Furthermore, she drew attention to excessive secrecy of defence procurements and called for a shift from orders to professional planning.

During Petro Poroshenko’s presidency, the entire sector of Military-Industrial Complex was deliberately excluded from the corporate governance reform of state-owned companies. The one to draw attention to the issue was Olena Tregub, Secretary-General of Independent Defence Anti-Corruption Committee.

She listed five main corruption risks in the Ministry of Defence:

  1. purchase of fuel;
  2. housing construction for the military;
  3. disposal of property;
  4. ground equipment;
  5. defence procurement.

“An accountable defence sector is impossible without the adoption of a new law on state secrets,” Tregub said.

How far are the Armed Forces of Ukraine from NATO standards?

In implementing NATO standards, the Defense Ministry has identified the military as the primary criteria in the Alliance. The agency has also drawn up a map of mandatory NATO standards, says Alina Frolova.

By the end of 2018 Ukraine had only had 175 NATO standards implemented out of over 1000, says Ihor Koziy, Military Expert at the Institute for Euro-Atlantic Cooperation (IEAC).

An important democratic principle among the member states of NATO is the admission of public experts to control the defence sector, adds Olena Tregub.

Returning the territories is returning the people

Ministry of Veterans, Temporarily Occupied Territories and Internally Displaced Persons of Ukraine will allocate to 2 separate agencies: The Ministry of Veteran Affairs and the Ministry of Occupied Territories and Internally Displaced Persons. This was announced by Oleksiy Illyashenko, Deputy Minister for Veterans Affairs, Temporarily Occupied Territories and Internally Displaced Persons of Ukraine.

“Territorial integration is an integration of the peoples into communities”, he said.

To strengthen links with the population of the occupied territories, they need to be provided with administrative, educational and medical services. These services should be provided directly at the Checkpoint of entry and exit in the ATO area and the territories adjacent to the demarcation line says Illyashenko. At the moment the Ministry is working on providing long-distance schooling to the children in the occupied territories.

One of the steps to integrating the peoples of the occupied territories is a simplification of the intersection of the demarcation line in Donbas and transportation of goods through it according to the deputy minister.

“There is 1,43 million of internally displaced persons in Ukraine. They do not have to constantly be “on the move” as the country must fully provide them with housing”, says Illyashenko.

In the issue reintegration time is playing against Ukraine as every passing year of occupation makes it harder to return the people and the territories. The issue is addressed by Nelli Yakovleva, Member of Parliament, Deputy Chairperson of the  Parliament  Committee on Human Rights, Deoccupation and Reintegration of Temporarily Occupied Territories in Donetsk, Luhansk  Regions and the Autonomous  Republic of  Crimea,  National  Minorities and Interethnic Relations.

Another important issue is the absence of unity among the population in matters of reintegration and de-occupation. Only an extensive dialogue in the society will change the situation, she says.

The authorities must focus on restoring the infrastructure in the adjacent areas. This will restore the confidence of the region’s population.

“We must keep our course on reintegration unchanged. Even if we take two steps forward and one step back”, summarizes Yakovleva.

The chaotic nature of the state’s policy of de-occupation is addressed by Tetyana Pechonchik, Chair of the Board of ZMINA Human Rights Center.

From one side, Verkhovna Rada passed a law on the protection of rights and freedoms in the occupied territory. But from the other, the people of Crimea were listed as non-residents and had issues with bank services in mainland Ukraine.

“The Checkpoints of entry and exit were not properly equipped and restrictions were placed on the carriage of goods, so Crimeans could not export their furniture and appliances”, adds Pechonchik.

At the moment the situation slightly improved, the carriage of goods through the Checkpoints was significantly simplified and the displaced persons are allowed to vote. However, the authorities should simplify access to administrative services for people from the occupied territories: only 13% of the children from ORDLO have Ukrainian birth certificates.

“It is necessary to strengthen social protection of the population: some people are barely paid compensation for the destroyed housing, and 700 thousand Donbas pensioners do not receive any pension”, summarizes Pechonchik.

Transitional justice

The draft concept of transition is generally ready. It is currently under consideration at the President’s Office. Anton Korynevych, the Permanent Representative of the President of Ukraine in the AR of Crimea, was the one to inform about it.

“In our opinion NGOs are equal partners in the process of de-occupation and reintegration. At first, they were even doing more than the public authorities”, he says.

Importantly, Ukraine has independently created a transitional justice tool. As in most other countries that were struck by armed conflicts, transitional justice was developed with the assistance of foreign partners. The one to draw attention to that was Olexandr Pavlichenko, Executive Director of Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union.

“Nonetheless there are still many legal loopholes. What should be done with 16 thousand convicts, that were left on the uncontrolled territories and with those prisoners condemned by the occupying power?”, asks Pavlichenko.

Photo from the Reforms Forum

REFORMS FORUM: ON THE ROAD TO VILNIUS is organized in preparation for the annual Ukraine Reform Conference (URC), which will be held in Vilnius (Lithuania) in July 2020. The purpose of the Forum is to discuss the progress of reforms implementation during the first six months of the Parliament and Government and the further reform priorities in Ukraine for 2020-2021.

The event is organized by the RPR Coalition in partnership with the Embassy of the Republic of Lithuania.  The Forum is supported by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Lithuania, the EU Anti-Corruption Initiative in Ukraine (EUACI – the programme is financed by the European Union and co-financed and implemented by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark), the EU Project Pravo-Justice and the International Renaissance Foundation, the USAID/ENGAGE activity implemented by Pact and «Civil Society for Enhanced Democracy and Human Rights in Ukraine» project implemented by UNDP Ukraine under financial support of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark.