Experts: Reforms in Ukraine are moving forward but not fast enough

On 6th of October 2015 in Brussels, Carnegie Europe hosted a discussion “Monitoring Reform in Ukraine”.

Jan Techau, the director of Carnegie Europe, stated that the strategic significance of the reform process in Ukraine is extremely important for EU foreign policy because the Ukraine crisis is the biggest foreign policy test that the EU has ever faced. The EU placed a huge bet on the ability of the current Ukrainian government to reform the country and it is still optimistic about turning the country around in a wide array of the policy fields. Jan Techau also presented the “Ukraine Reform Monitor”, developed by Carnegie Europe in cooperation with Russia/Eurasia program in Washington DC, which is to be published one per month.

Balázs Jarábik, visiting scholar at the Carnegie Endowment, presented results of his findings with respect to reform progress in Ukraine. According to Balázs Jarábik, the reforms are taking place in every sector, except for judiciary and fight against corruption. Mr. Jarábik stressed that formally speaking there are a pro-European government and parties in the Parliament, yet the actual number of pro – Europeans is much smaller. At the same time, the fight against corruption is mostly formal and inefficient. There are significant coordination problems and lack of communication inside and outside the country – between the government and the people as well as between the government and international partners of Ukraine.

Mr. Jarábik also stressed that Ukraine needs peace for further development, however it is still unclear whether Ukraine will not wallow in internal disputes during that peace. The government’s responsibility is to start reconciliation process between the regions. One of the key actions is to adopt respective changes to constitution, but unfortunately a lot of people are opposing it. He suggested that the state should be modernized, the relationships between the regions should be rebuilt and the regions should possess of all necessary financial and other instruments to organize themselves.

Oksana Movchan, member of the National Reforms Council of Ukraine, provided inside perspective on the reforms in Ukraine. She acknowledged chaotic character of reform development and implementation. Ms. Movchan also confirmed the lack of action plans and communication of the government with the people and vice versa. These are a result of lack of unified position in the government and society, which complicates to a large degree the reform efforts of the pro-European forces.

Pierre Vimont, senior associate at Carnegie Europe, underlined the importance of mentioning external factors, in particular, Russia’s role in the present all-enveloping crisis, in discussion on Ukraine. He stressed that the way to a real stability in Ukraine lies not only through internal reforms, but also through discussion of what would be after the Minsk Agreement and how the EU could support Ukraine. He also noted that the time has come to think about possible membership of Ukraine in NATO and accession to the EU, which will be on the agenda in the near future.

When talking about internal factors, Mr. Vimont mentioned about the need to support local government in Ukraine and to provide different kinds of support including the technical one. Referring to the EU’s huge bet on the reform success of Ukraine, he concluded that the bet is now in a better shape than it was one year ago, but the EU keeps seeking a joint and clear long-term position with respect to Ukraine.

Watch the full video from the conference here.

Stanislav Sokur

PhD candidate at Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv