Kyiv, 27 March, 2014. Ukraine Crisis Media Center launched a round table expert debate on “European choice of Ukraine – a chance for unity and reforms” bringing together experts from a variety of spheres. Basic points of the speakers werwe:
Vadym Tryukhan, expert on international and European law, states that Ukraine has made its choice: “We need to act on two levels: the political – define a political figure who will take over all powers addressing this issue, and the administrative – create a ministry or other executive body – said Mr. Tryukhan. – Ukraine has always had two policies: policy of reforms and policy of integration. They always went in parallel, which is not effective. So they need to be combined and only then the system will work for the good of society”.
Valeriy Chaly, Deputy Director of Razumkov Ukrainian Centre: “There are a lot of stereotypes that are designed to mislead and do not correspond to the real facts. It’s important to explain real challenges, problems and opportunities”.
Iryna Gerashchenko, Member of Parliament of Ukraine, First Deputy Chairman, Chairman of the Subcommittee on information support of the integration process of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine on European Integration, believes that the issue of European integration is strategic for our country as long as the way to the EU is open. “It is important not to compromise with negatively opposed representatives of the Eastern Ukraine, but to carry an educational program with them – so Mrs. Herashchenko. – Our main enemy today is the lack of communication programs aimed at citizens of Eastern Ukraine, which would allow explaining benefits of European integration, considering existing information war with Russia. We should join our efforts not only for its development, but for implementation as well. We need to go to eastern region and communicate with people”. Irina Gerashchenko also notes that it is necessary to strengthen the powers of the Committee of European integration with the ability to veto the resolutions that contradict the way of the country towards the European community, and creating a single center to coordinate efforts.
Oleksandr Sushko, Research Director, Institute for Euro-Atlantic Cooperation, states that the significantly increasing role of civil society in Ukraine nowadays is influencing the politics, economics, and country development. “Unfortunately, society is heterogeneous; some are acting in the interests of the state, some are supporting current non-conformists, some serve someone’s interests. We observe that the word said by authorities is not always perceived in the right way. Therefore, local NGOs that have an impact on people in the region can be of use in this regard.”
Dmytro Shulga, Director of the European Program of the International Renaissance Foundation: «Visa zone, free trade zone, the Association are the arguments for European integration to take place throughout society. We need enlightenment in all spheres. For example such as the University of Maidan”.
Oleh Rybachuk, Head of ‘Center UA’ NGO stresses that in case we want to demonstrate to the Western, Eastern Ukraine and to ourselves that we really implement European reforms, we should begin to destroy the existing corruption in Customs, Tax Administrations, Courts, power circuits, which everyone knows and is willing to “milk”. “If we begin to increase rates at Europe’s request without destroying those 2-3 points, which elute more money from the budget than we expect to get from IMF, the result can not be achieved,” – he said. Also, Mr. Rybachuk has an opinion on reducing the resistance of Eastern Ukraine: “There is no point in Eastern Ukraine to speak with someone who wants to be born and turn in the Soviet Union; it is necessary to communicate with young people and businesses. The latter, by the way, understands the risks of work in case of joining the Customs Union: no guarantee a profitable business will not be taken away by the “family”, that a tax institution would not “milk” it and so on. And believe me, this is not what the business wants to join. Therefore, just now the new government has a real chance, not a theoretical ability, to change the situation for the better.”
Andriy Bychenko, Director of the sociology department at the Razumkov Center, says that Russia’s invasion has done more for European integration than all previous actions. However, this is not the time to rest – it is not only necessary to continue creating awareness among people, but also to let them feel the actual changes in the country and to start fighting corruption. “If our people see these changes, they will be more comfortable with accepting and overcoming the unpleasant economic changes,” he assured.
Igor Burakovskyi, Director of the Institute for Economic Research and Policy Consulting focused on the main problems in Ukraine and ways to tackle them:
1. Country’s lack of industrial potential – it is necessary to switch to new types of business. Businesses should learn from the success stories of their neighboring countries, such as Latvia and Estonia (personal meetings, round tables, conferences).
2. Continuing deterioration of trade relations with Russia;
3. Society’s simplistic understanding of reforms. A clear message needs to be sent that achieving new development targets will involve going through a complicated economic situation in the country.
4 . The need to establish a dialog between the government and the society.