Ukraine 2019-2020: broad opportunities, contradictory results

On 4 March 2020, the Ukrainian Think Tanks Liaison Office in Brussels in cooperation with the Mission of Canada to the European Union and with the support of the European Union has organised a conference on reforms in Ukraine in the context of the launch of the Razumkov Centre’s annual report: Ukraine 2019-2020: broad opportunities, contradictory results”. The event brought together officials, diplomats, experts, journalists and a wider audience interested in Ukraine’s developments.

Robert Sinclair, Deputy Head of the Mission of Canada to the European Union, opened the event and noted that Canada was the first country to recognise Ukrainian independence in 1991 and since then supported and invested in Ukraine’s development and reforms.

 “Canada has long and sincere relationships with Ukraine.”

H.E. Mykola Tochytskyi, Ambassador of Ukraine to the European Union, in his welcoming remarks underlined how important such events are for Ukraine. Mr. Tochytskyi expressed the need for Ukraine to continue reforming the economy and its army.

 “We will continue reforms because with them we become stronger and more resistant.”

Olena Carbou, Executive Director of the Ukrainian Think Tanks Liaison Office in Brussels, moderator of the panel, thanked the Mission of Canada for long-term cooperation and highlighted the continuing efforts of Ukraine to be closer to the EU. The Office is the association of the leading think tanks, working together to promote democratisation and Europeanisation processes in Ukraine. Ms. Carbou thanked Mr. Yakymenko and all authors for their work on the annual report, which helps to understand what happens in and around Ukraine.

 “We continue our work of opening Ukraine to Europe with the help of independent expertise.” 

 Yuriy Yakymenko, Deputy Director-General of the Razumkov Centre, presented results of 2019 and forecasts for 2020 for Ukraine in domestic and foreign policies, economy, security and defence areas. He stressed that 2019 was an important year, which brought changes that now define the future of the country. The previous year was marked by elections and establishment of a new political system, where the president is in the centre of the decision-making processes. The main shortcomings, underlined by Mr. Yakymenko, are the lack of conceptual approaches and strategic vision, as well as the policy of compromises in relations with Russia. Reforms are continuing to take place, but the systematic approach is lacking. The full report may be seen here.

“The pace of the AA implementation becomes particularly important as the lion’s share of its provisions has to be fulfilled during the presidency of Volodymyr Zelenskyy.”

Amanda Paul, Senior Policy Analyst in the European Policy Centre, stated that it was important that reforms continued to take place in Ukraine. It is important that Ukraine hasn’t changed its foreign policy directions and is still committed to the EU. The Donbas conflict remains the main security threat. Ms. Paul underlined the lack of strategy to move forward in the conflict resolution. She recalled that Ukraine urgently needs to boost economic relations not only with the EU but also with Asia, Africa and the Middle East.

 “Communicating with society is crucial, and Zelenskyy should not forget it.”

Peter Wagner, Head of the Support Group for Ukraine of the European Commission, welcomed the report and recognised its factual fairness. He reminded that visa-free travel policy is one of the recognitions of freedom and trust given by the EU to Ukraine.

 “We continue to support Ukrainian independence and territorial integrity. Crimea is Ukraine.