The Brussels UkraineLab 2017: the step forward in international cooperation for the sake of Ukraine’s democratic transformation
The Brussels UkraineLab 2017: Fair of project ideas in Support of Reforms in Ukraine took place on the 22nd February 2017. 19 leading Ukrainian think tanks presented Ukraine in many dimensions such as economic development, state building reforms and foreign policy, and shared their expertise with the audience, composed of nearly 100 representatives from the EU and Ukrainian Governmental Institutions, Think Tanks, Business Associations, Consultancies, Academia, Foundations and Media.
Mr Jerzy Pomianowski, Executive Director at the European Endowment for Democracy opened this year’s UkraineLab by calling everyone to consolidate reforms that have been developed and adopted in Ukraine: “No one better than Ukrainians can design their future and we need to provide them with help and assistance”. H.E. Mykola Tochytskyi, Ambassador of Ukraine to the EU reminded that “Ukrainian reforms are only starting and we have to push them forward with concrete steps”.
Ms Olena Prystayko, Executive Director of the Ukrainian Think Tanks Liaison Office in Brussels said that “We endeavour to make the Brussels UkraineLab a permanently working platform for those in Ukraine and the world who are committed to promote democratic transformations and reforms in Ukraine”. She presented the Practical Guide for Think Tanks developed by the Office: “This practical guide will help EU and Ukrainian think tanks to develop their work with each other, but also with donors and decision-makers. We would be happy if you could use one of the tips from the book for your future work”. Mr Yevhen Bystrytskyi, Executive Director of the International Renaissance Foundation underlined how crucial it is for EU and Ukrainian think tanks to have such a debate: “With this conference, the EU – Ukraine think tanks cooperation will be even stronger”. Mr Peter Wagner, Head of the Support Group for Ukraine of the European Commission underlined that achieving stabilisation of Ukraine is one of the EU’s priorities for 2017 and that the EU is going to assess its 2017 budget specifically dedicated for Ukraine in order to address the situation in the East and contribute to the overall social and political stabilisation in the country.
The first panel started with the discussion of the administration reform, where everything is prepared but courage is still lacking, according to Mr Ihor Koliushko from the Centre of Policy and Legal Reform: “I’d like to invite all external participants to help our government to have the courage to start this reform. We will also need help in development of the new public administration curricula for current and future civil servants”. Speaking about economy, Mrs Veronika Movchan from the Institute for Economic Research and Policy Consulting stressed that “After several years of stagnation, economy starts to grow again and deep studies showed that technology has helped to harvest much more than what was previously expected”. Following up on the establishment of the market economy, Mr Christopher A. Hartwell, Director at Center for Social and Economic Research, insisted that “You cannot have a free market without property rights(…), there needs to be a political will to finally repeal the land moratorium and to deal with the property rights”. Mr Roman Nitsovych from DiXi Group echoed saying that further liberalisation is the main priority for the energy sector.
During the second panel, the speakers and the participants sought to understand today’s place of Ukraine in relation with the EU and the world. Mr Oleksandr Sushko from the Institute for Euro-Atlantic Cooperation was clear about the ratification of the Association Agreement: “Further delay is extremely dangerous for the perception of the EU in Ukraine and for the leverage that the EU really has”. Mrs Olga Aivazovska from OPORA Network highlighted that “Determination of clear red lines based on common values and recognized standards is the only way for the Western world – and for Ukraine as a part of it – to survive”. Mrs Iryna Bekeshkina from Ilko Kucheriv Democratic Initiatives Foundation analysed the sociological dimension of the conflict in Donbas and said that “In order to achieve peace, it is obligatory to take into account the Ukrainian society. The government cannot adopt decisions which are not accepted by the majority of the Ukrainian citizens”.
Mr Bogusław Gertruda, Team Leader for Ukraine at the European External Action Service’s Eastern Partnership Bilateral Division concluded that “The EU has always supported the Ukrainian sovereignty. This is the only way the Minsk Agreements should be solved”. Speaking about the Russian propaganda, as a common threat for the EU and Ukraine, Mr Andriy Kulakov from Internews Ukraine listed several potential countermeasures: “We should establish a comprehensive system of media literacy, create a network of press pools and increase internal communication with the domestic society”.
The UkraineLab 2017 continued with the Think Tank Forum. It was a special part of the event dedicated to face-to-face meetings with the Ukrainian experts and researchers. Participants continued discussing the questions raised during the first part of the day.
And most importantly, they had an opportunity to elaborate potential joint projects and exchange innovative ideas to make a positive impact on the future development of Ukraine as well as its further integration into the democratic world.
The event was organised by the Ukrainian Think Tanks Liaison Office in Brussels (the Office) with the support of the European Endowment for Democracy, the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung, the Mission of Canada to the EU and the International Renaissance Foundation.