Decade after Bucharest Summit: Has Ukraine become closer to NATO?
Ten years ago, when the world was completely different, NATO adopted a Summit Declaration in Bucharest, where paragraph 23 referred to the postponement of the MAP for Ukraine. All the traditional protocol norms followed, and diplomatic formulas voiced. In Ukraine, which, as in the past, as now, covered by predilection passions, the news caused a mixed reaction. Someone upset, considering the security vacuum to be an invitation to Russian influence. Someone liked — the reputation of NATO in Ukraine was not so brilliant as it is today. Politicians, in its turn, were thinking of how to play a NATO card in the elections that were once again promised to be fateful. Today, Ukraine again wants to enter NATO speaks about the MAP and is preparing for the elections again. Some mistakes of a decade ago will be made again. However, the conditions for repeating those mistakes are much more rigid. Is Ukraine closer to NATO today than it was ten years ago? Probably not. Because when we are running to NATO, we are moving away from it, there are three main reasons: international, Ukrainian and Russian. Correct mark of the weight of each of them will help to avoid simplifications, disappointments and false decisions. International factors that complicate Ukraine's move to NATO are out of our control, have a long-term impact and are not a subject to rapid change. In 2008, the life of the aspirant country (as it is now fashionable to call) was compare simple and easy: to do a “homework” – it means, turn the country into a true democracy; and make sure the key member states of NATO, that you will bring more benefits than troubles. International security, particularly in Europe, was comparatively strong: frozen conflicts such as Transnistria were one of the most serious problems. Russia's politics was not entirely understandable, but predictable. Institutes and security mechanisms in Europe were still working. A few months after Bucharest Summit, the situation changed with the developments of the Russian-Georgian war in August. There is a widespread thought that Russia's aggression against Georgia, as well as later against Ukraine, was a consequence of the failure to provide the MAP to both countries in Bucharest. The question is how reasonable this opinion can be. The MAP does not extend to the country in which it provides, the Alliance's security guarantees, and in the case of aggression, it remains alone. Would Russia's aggression be accelerated, delayed or blocked by another solution in Bucharest is a speculative issue. We did not manage the simple tasks for aspirant of a decade ago – and this is the main reason for slowdown on the path to NATO, as it was and is now. Today, we repeat the mistakes of the past, believing that the more loud and hard we knock at the NATO door, the sooner it will be opened. Ten years ago, they knocked through the “letter of three” – signed by the President Victor Yushchenko, the Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko and the Speaker Yatsenyuk, who had to prove the unity of Ukrainian politicians who were not usually favorable to her. Today they are knocking through changes to the legislation, both those that have already taken place and possible constitutional ones. Now there are also many talks about the referendum. Interestingly, the argument with a referendum will only work for the Russian audience. There is still a belief that NATO has been expanding against the will of the population of the new member states of Eastern Europe, to confirm exactly what they refer to without referendums. NATO is not argued by referendums. It is unlikely, that now anyone is in doubt that most Ukrainians would like to get under the protection of the Alliance and resolve all their problems in such an uncomplicated way. But NATO is not interested in the desire of Ukrainians, but they are concerned with common interests. A wide field of these common interests appears in cases where neighboring countries can become democratic and effective. Democracy for NATO is an operational code and a trust saver, not beautiful slogans. Unfortunately, for Ukraine, on the contrary. A warning that without a strong democracy and a rule of law, joining NATO will not happen – is rhetoric but pragmatic demands. In 2008, the Economist Intelligence Unit ranked Ukraine in the ranking of the Democracies of the World on the 53rd place in a group of Democracies with Disabilities. In 2017, we were – for the version of the same edition – on 83 place in the group of hybrid regimes. If more democracy means being closer to NATO, what does Ukraine's current position in the ranking of democratic states mean? Of course, Russia's factor plays its part, and it does not play a role in Ukraine's prospects for NATO. Russia's aggression undermined our security, ruined regional security, undermining the credibility of institutions and states. We argue the Europeans of the seriousness of the Russian threat and for them, too, but they hardly see the solution to this problem through Ukraine's accession to NATO. It is crucial for NATO to maintain unity and effectiveness, and this requires maintaining the Alliance's credibility. The hypothetical membership of Ukraine will, in case of Russia's further aggression, have too complex dilemmas in front of each member state. Although it is often believed that the Russian war in Ukraine pushes Kyiv to NATO, this is true only as far as public opinion concerned. The existence of an open conflict and high probability of its escalation inhibits our movement to NATO, and to other possible coalitions, as it multiplies the number of risks associated with Ukraine. Ten years ago on the desire of Ukraine to MAP played international stability strong support of Washington and a much better situation inside the country. Today it is possible to try to play on the public opinion of Ukrainians and the exploitation of the threat from Moscow. Passion of simple decisions makes the international situation of Ukraine more and more complex, and does not look like, that the prospects of NATO membership are an exception to this trend.
The Art of Tolerance: Blitz-Speeches on PeaceKeeping
The International Centre for Policy Studies, with the support of the United Nations Development Program in Ukraine, launched a "Reinventing Respect" communication campaign to support tolerance and mutual understanding in society a year ago. The main goal of the given project was to reduce the polarization of public opinion and strengthen dialogue among various social groups. Within the framework of the project the UNDP Ukraine Envoys for Tolerance and Promoting Tolerance and Mutual Understanding were chosen. In particular, in the form of a creative interview, Neil Walker - UN Resident Coordinator in Ukraine and Vadym Chernysh - Minister for Temporary Occupied Territories and Internally Displaced Persons identified the need for a dialogue in society as a necessary basis in the context of situation in Ukraine. ICPS expert Mykola Kapitonenko and ICPS Chief Advisor Vasyl Filipchuk consider trust as the main building material for creating tolerant society. In turn, Igor Kozlovsky noted that love is the main thing. "Everything begins with love, and very often the reason of all the problems is that people do not know how to love," says a religious scholar. Mykola Kapitonenko also noticed that the perception of diversity and respect for everyone is a sign of the most successful society. A panel with Envoys was extremely interesting, moderated by Pavel Vyshebaba and Lyubko Deresh. The writer and human rights defender Larisa Denisenko emphasized that the first step is to determine their own latent intolerance. The artist Alevtina Kakhidze shared the experience of communicating with people during trip to the East. The creative part was presented by readings of poetry by the People's Artist of Ukraine Natalia Sumska and singer Katya Chilly. There were also awarded winners of the creative works competition with a view to promoting the ideas of tolerance among students and digital-specialists.
Conference "Transparent and Financially Healthy Local Self-Government Bodies in Ukraine"
On March 20, 2018, there was held the final conference "Transparent and Financially Healthy Local Self-Government Bodies in Ukraine" under the joint project of ICPS and the Institute for Economic and Social Reforms in Slovakia (INEKO) with the financial support of the US Embassy in Ukraine. The first panel of the conference was devoted to the "Transparency of the 50 largest cities of Ukraine" (http://transparency.icps.com.ua/) rating, which aims to: - monitor the current level of transparency of the largest cities of Ukraine; - develop recommendations on transparent decision-making by local self-government bodies; - increase and promote transparency of municipalities. The rating is based on data obtained from the following sources: - Answers to the questionnaire sent by ICPS to 50 city councils; - Answers to requests for information sent by ICPS unofficially - through a third party ("secret client request"); - information which can be directly accessed on the official websites of the city councils. In this case, 77 parameters of transparency of each city were investigated. Based on the analysis of the results of the research, it can be noted that the overall average transparency of cities improved from 42.88% in 2016 to 51.38% in 2017. The highest dynamics of transparency was demonstrated by Mariupol, Kropyvnytsky, Uman, Brovary and Nikopol. Among the top three winners of the rating are Sumy, Lviv and Vinnytsa. The second panel of the conference was devoted to the project "Financial health of budgets of cities and regions of Ukraine" (http://budgets.icps.com.ua/), the purpose of which is: - raising public awareness about the budgets of municipalities and their rating; - support for solving current problems of financial management of budgets of cities and oblasts; - promotion of financial health of regions, cities and settlements. The analysis of the results shows that integrated indicator of the financial situation of the cities has improved by 0.4 points to 6.0 in comparison with the previous rating one of the main reasons of which was budget decentralization, which allowed local authorities to use financial resources more efficiently. The integrated indicator of the financial situation of the regions got worse by 0.5 points to 5.9 caused by an increase in the expenditure part of the budgets. The best dynamics was demonstrated by Vinnytsa, Zhytomyr, Kropyvnytsky. Among the regions, Lviv, Chernivtsi and Ternopil regions had the best progress. At the same time, the cities and regions which were among top 10 had almost not changed from 2013. It should be noted that in most cities and regions capital expenditures account for less than 20%. The first three cities-leaders are Odessa, Rivne and Poltava. Among the regions, Zaporizhzhya, Cherkasy ta Volyn regions took the first three places.
Macroeconomic forecast "Economic analysis and current trends"
The International Centrе for Policy Studies has prepared the next issue of the brochure "Economic Analysis and Current Trends" for January 2018. It contains a detailed analysis of indicators of the manufacturing sector, prices, financial market and forecast for 2018-2020 years. Data analysis on key areas for 2017 indicates that: The following indicators have decreased: - production in industry by 0.1% y/y, in particular through trade blockade. - production in agriculture by 2.7% y/y, due to a lower yield of main crops. - the purchasing power of the population due to the high level of consumer inflation, which was 13.7%, and the inflation rate of industrial producers, which was 16.5%. - interest rates on loans and deposits, in particular due to the large offer of such deposits and, at the same time, limited lending to business and population. The following indicators have increased: - turnover of wholesale and retail trade by 2.8% and 8.8% respectively. - cargo turnover and passenger turnover by 5.8% and 7.4%. - the volume of construction products by 20.9%. - the volume of deposits left by 13%; - the amount of loans left by 1.9%. According to the forecast, in 2018 there will be an increase in domestic consumption and investments, and exports of goods and services. Increasing the minimum wage and raising pensions will help increase consumption, although they will contribute to inflation in 2018. It is also noted that in 2018 there are two main risks that, if implemented, will significantly change the economic situation: - firstly, there is a probability of non-fulfillment of the requirements of the IMF, as a result of the government will not receive money from the IMF and other international organizations and large payments on external debt will lead to a significant reduction of foreign exchange reserves and a sharp devaluation of the hryvnia. - secondly, in 2018, world prices of resources may decrease significantly after their rapid growth in 2017, which will result in lower revenues from exports of goods and an increase in the current account deficit, which will increase the pressure on reserves and hryvnia.
Statement of the Verkhovna Rada and Strategic Partnership with Poland
The words of the Speaker of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine on the future of the Baltic-Black Sea Arc, said immediately after the parliament's adoption of the statement, a reaction to the Polish law on the Institute of National Remembrance, sounded either as bullying or as a complete misunderstanding of the challenges and elections facing Ukraine today. The case has long ceased to be relevant to the analysis of the historical details of the Polish-Ukrainian relations. Today we are talking about the choice of paradigms for further development, both in Ukraine and throughout Eastern Europe. And only Ukrainian deputies seem to think that talking about European integration to accompany the play of the national map and the deterioration of relations with its western neighbors is quite normal. You can search for whoever started the first one as long as you like. In this case, it does not matter. What should be worrying us - not today, but several years ago, when we decided to actively build our own national identity on the basis of ethnic symbolism, this is the consequences of such elections for neighbors. It was easy for them to foresee, it was enough to get a superficial look at the history of the region of the past two centuries. It was obvious that all the problematic language-historical components of relations with neighbors would be touched upon. What further this will create the demand for national rhetoric already within these states. And what kind of rhetoric will encourage politicians to re-think their position on Ukraine. But we did not think about it, did it, seemingly simple and good things - restored historical justice, forgetting that it is everyone's own. The Poles adopted their law in totally different conditions than those in which we respond to it. They are members of the EU and NATO, they do not need to prove their European character. They do not need Ukrainian help either. For them, the pendulum bias toward national rhetoric is no more than a conjunctural phenomenon, although even in the strict framework of European democracy, it can lead to a lower level of democracy. We are a country where eight years have passed the so-called "Hybrid mode", which is not a hybrid war, but a lack of democracy - we risk losing too much in terms of both internal and external perspectives. Similar steps Parliament - knowingly or not - creates an environment more conducive to the concentration of power, the effect of "dancing around the flag" - in short, all that we criticize the regime in Russia so emotionally and rationally. The statement adopted by the Verkhovna Rada to a certain extent reflects not only the lack of understanding of long-term consequences, but also the detachment of ideas about current affairs in our foreign policy from realities. The phrase that "... the incitement of conflicts between traditionally friendly Ukrainian and Polish peoples lies in the interests of the common enemies of our statehood and sovereignty ..." can be imagined in the work of a good-school student, but not in an official document, which by itself, without any involvement of the common enemies, creates the basis for a crisis in relations between peoples, which is unclear for what is immediately called "traditionally friendly". Is not it possible to in-depth study of the circumstances of such friendship and institute of national memory in both countries? It is possible then to study and traditionally friendly relations of the period of the national liberation war of the Ukrainian people, incidentally and there finding the Kremlin's hand. Simple, intimate and frankly inaccurate characteristics of the parliament, it is unclear for what, brings the problem to the slogans and empty rhetoric, which is long gone. The mantra about Ukraine, which saves the entire world, including Poland, from Russian aggression, is no longer perceived seriously by anyone, except for individual deputies. Referring to the "spirit of strategic partnership between Ukraine and Poland", you need to understand where this partnership is present, and where only our imaginations are present. "Strategic partnership", which we are accustomed to cover foreign policy failures at bilateral level, has been fixed more than once forever. The content of the partnership, even if it is called "strategic", is changing. It is, exactly, and determined at moments that are similar to today's. The good consequences of the populists' initiative of the parliament, driven before the elections in a deadlock, can not wait. Perhaps someone will vote for a deputy, but Ukraine will pay for such a step further weakening of support from Poland. Options for such a relaxation are many. We depend on Poland's position in key issues for national security - rapprochement with NATO, deepening of relations with the EU, preservation of the regime of anti-Russian sanctions. We have almost no levers of influence on the Polish position; and today we have done everything to strengthen anti-Ukrainian sentiments in Polish society. Conversations about Ukraine's European integration will also look like either bullying or a complete misunderstanding of international and political realities. Mykola Kapitonenko, ICPS Associate Expert