Creative works contest for journalists, bloggers, designers and digital content specialists

International Centre for Policy Studies announces a Creative Works Contest for journalists, bloggers, designers and digital content specialists “Tolerance” conducted within the framework of the UNDP’s communication campaign “Reinvent Respect”. This project aims to decrease polarization of the public mood and promote dialogues among different social groups.   We invite you to highlight an issue of tolerance in Ukrainian society using the media content. To participate in the Contest you can provide any videos, photos, animations, posters, banners and any other creative works that you consider helpful in visualizing the term of tolerance and mutual respect. The relevant materials should be sent via e-mail office@icps.com.ua up to 20th February. According to the results of the project winners of the Contest will receive a ₴ 10000 reward, as well as awards from the International Centre for Policy Studies and the United Nations Development Programme in Ukraine. The UNDP Ambassadors for Tolerance will also give their special awards to the best works. The winners’ works will be used in projects of the UNDP and ICPS subject to winners’ consent. Awarding ceremony will take place within the framework of the final event of the project “In pursuit of respect” with the participation of the Ambassadors for Tolerance among whom are writer Lubko Deresh, Honored Artist of Ukraine Natalia Sumska, singer Katya Chilly, journalist Andriy Kulikov, writer Larysa Denysenko, artist Alevtina Kahidze, philosopher Myhailo Minakov, human rights advocate Evhen Zaharov, historian  Gulnara Abdulaeva, TV presenter Slava Varda, writer Mariana Savka, musician and ecoactivist Pavlo Vyshebaba.  ...

ICPS Press
24.01.2018

Ukraine's relations with its western neighbors: from problems to solutions

A tangible deterioration in Ukraine's relations with its western neighbors has become one of the most important outcomes and challenges of 2017. The acute reaction in neighboring countries to certain historical or linguistic issues, which were not the subject for serious discussions within the country, became a surprise not only for the general public, but also for a part of the political establishment, which believed, Ukraine's support on the international arena from Hungary and Poland is in the asset by a definition. A problem of the Neighborhood Policy became the subject of a thorough study “What is happening in Ukraine's relations with its western neighbors?” prepared by the International Center for Policy Studies, which was presented during a round table discussion organized at the end of the last year. And today, during an expert discussion on the invitation of the Institute of International Relations and Trade (Budapest, Hungary), the ICPS team is presenting ideas on how to get out of the deadlock and find solutions to the current problems. According to ICPS experts, crisis phenomena in Ukraine in relations with its western border neighbors first of all, is in a certain crisis of both Ukrainian foreign policy identity in general, and Neighborhood Policy in particular. In the last case, such a crisis is conditioned by an insufficient attention to the development of relations with western neighbors in past years, the lack of a systematic analysis of the internal situation in neighboring countries, their positions and interests in regional cooperation. There is also a lack of a well-developed regional policy of Ukraine and a policy of developing partnership with each of the neighboring countries, in particular with the involvement of all state power bodies, business and interested representatives of civil society as well as expert community. It is important to understand, Western neighbors should be seen as our partners, and the national minorities should become an advantage of Neighborhood Policy in Ukraine, not a problem. The dialogue with Ukrainian national minorities, together with the minorities of neighboring states should be intensified. They should be perceived as connectors, bridging neighboring countries, as important channels of communication and cooperation. Dialogue and consultation with minorities should be conducted primarily through positive action, avoiding steps that can be taken as a mitigation of the role of languages. In particular, it should be noted that Article 7 of the Law on Education is a serious, but nevertheless, not a non-negotiable challenge for friendly relations with neighboring countries. In particular, ICPS experts consider the necessary steps to be taken to restart relations with its neighboring countries: - Adoption of a new concept of Ukraine's foreign policy; - Development of a new Neighborhood Policy; - Depolitization of humanitarian issues; - Strengthening economic cooperation; - Cross-border cooperation; - Setting up cultural diplomacy. Therefore, further dialogue on the format of relations should be based on a mutually beneficial approach and a positive atmosphere of discussion, more attention should be paid to a strengthening possible cooperation options. Also, during the expert discussion, the Ukrainian and Hungarian sides stressed on the need for enhanced interaction and communication at the expert level, as there is a lack of objective information on current events in Ukraine and Hungary. Such dissonance, in its turn, may lead to false conclusions and interpretations and negatively affect a quality of bilateral dialogue. In order to solve this problem, the International Center for Policy Studies (Kyiv, Ukraine) and the Institute for International Relations and Trade (Budapest, Hungary) agreed on further cooperation and effective communication....

ICPS Press
16.01.2018

The Supervisory Board of the International Center for Policy Studies conducted a summing-up meeting

On December 28, the Supervisory Board of the International Center for Policy Studies conducted a summing-up meeting on finalizing this year's work and identifying strategic priorities for the future. During the welcoming remarks Victor Mashtabey, the Supervisory Board Chairman, noted the importance of holding Supervisory Board meetings in order to plan the efficient and coordinated work of the Center. Respectively, within the framework of the meeting was presented an overall ICPS report for 2017, during which 10 projects were implemented, 83 public events organized, which geographically covered 24 regions of Ukraine. Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Ukraine, member of the Supervisory Board Oleksandr Chalyi noted on the need for a clear position of the organization and key areas of activity, which would allow ICPS to take a decent place among the leading think tanks in Ukraine. The idea of creating a regional network for the spread of ideas as well as activities on the region level was also announced. Not of a less importance is the creation of a new fundraising strategy for the implementation of new projects. Strategic priorities are defined in the following: Strategic Priority No. 1 - Developing the institutional capacity of ICPS Enhancing Organizational Capacity Strengthening institutional sustainability External communications Strategic Priority No. 2 - Foreign Policy, Security and Peacebuilding Peaceful settlement European integration Strategic Priority No. 3 - Reforms implementation and “digitalization” of Ukraine Strategic priority №4 - Protection of human/civil rights and freedoms Strategic Priority No. 5 - Sustainable Economic Development Supervisory Board Member, Doctor of Historical Sciences Igor Zaloba suggested one of the possible vectors of the ICPS work to identify options for possible cooperation with active youth in the regions for the replication of successful cases. In its turn, Denis Prymaygi initiated a proposal to create new formats for ICPS analytical products, which would increase the number of those interested as well as potential stakeholders. Also, Supervisory Board members scheduled to hold a general ICPS meeting in April....

ICPS Press
28.12.2017

ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT OF UKRAINE 2017: ACHIEVEMENTS, FAILURES, PROSPECTS

The year 2017 was characterized both by achievements and failures of the Ukrainian government in economic policy. Rebalancing of economic, social and resource components of the development was the main result of its activity. At the same time, Ukraine's economy continued to grow slowly in 2017 and this growth rate is not enough for the economic breakthrough in 2018. Moreover, the forthcoming year will not be easier than the current one. Achievements of the Ukrainian economy in 2017 The following achievements were the most significant in the economic sphere: 1) Obtaining the fourth tranche of the IMF amounting $ 1 billion in early April 2017. Ukraine has made the necessary reforms and was able to increase its gold and foreign exchange reserves, that made it possible to postpone the default, to stabilize the macroeconomic situation and to increase the trust of partners, investors and donors in the country. 2) Eurobond placement. Due to entering the external borrowing market in September, Ukraine for the first time since 2015 has raised $ 3 billion. This operation will reduce the burden on the state budget for repayment of government debt in the coming years. This fact also indicates a partial restoration of foreign investors` confidence in Ukraine. 3) Steps taken by the government to diversify exports in order to reduce the dependence of exporters on the volatility of traditional markets and to ensure a stable flow of currency into the country. This was facilitated by the adoption of the exports strategy “Road Map for Strategic Development of Trade 2017-2021” in the end of March 2017, the full entry into force of the Association Agreement between the European Union and Ukraine in the beginning of September 2017, the regional convention on pan-Euro-Mediterranean preferential rules of origin, the development of trade relations with Canada. Negotiations on free trade agreements with Israel and Turkey are being conducted. 4) Relative business deregulation in 2017, especially in the construction industry, and optimization of fiscal policy, along with improvement of taxpayers` service, in particular due to introduction of electronic VAT refund system, significantly increased the tax base, providing a surplus of state and local budgets, and contributed to the decrease in shadow economy. As a result, these improvements had a positive impact on the investment climate and pushed Ukraine on the 76th place in the Doing Business-2018 rating. The failures of Ukraine's economy in 2017 The following problems were faced by Ukraine in 2017: 1) Economic blockade of the non-government controlled areas. As the result there was an increase in Ukraine's dependence on imports of energy resources, primarily coal, a change in the ratio of capacities of various types of power plants, which excessively exceeded the permissible loads on some of them. Also, this event significantly influenced the economic situation of enterprises that had industrial ties with the region. According to various estimates, Ukraine loses about 1% of GDP due to the economic blockade of the non-government controlled areas. 2) Negative trade balance. Asymmetries in foreign trade, insufficient lobbying of national interests, difficulties in product certification require further reforms and capacity building to ensure Ukraine's sustainable growth. 3) Undeveloped banking sector. The tendency of reduction in the number of banks has continued in 2017. This has resulted in additional burden on the Deposit Guarantee Fund and in the increase of the number of non-performing loans. Also, the access to financial resources was still limited. 4) Strengthening of inflation processes. According to the government's forecast, the inflation rate will be 11.2% by the end of 2017. This was caused by cancellation of state regulation of food prices, by increase of minimum wages and pensions without adequate economic growth, by continuation of trends in household tariff increase, which led to approximation of recipients of subsidies up to 60%, and by delayed decision of the NBU to raise the discount rate from 12.5% to 13.5%. The questions of the future Next year Ukraine will have to solve the following issues: 1) Issues related to economic development: - The budget 2018 may have unbalanced character, in particular due to excessive pressure of spending on the security forces. In addition, further decentralization processes and the transition to three-year medium-term budget planning in 2018 will require a clearer development strategy from the government. - Insufficient GDP growth rates and high inflation due to the lack of comprehensive government measures to address these developmental issues are also the threats in 2018. - The price situation of the world market of raw materials, high-tech goods and energy resources can be unfavorable for Ukraine. In addition, the issue of stable supply of liquefied petroleum gas and mineral fertilizers remains unresolved. 2) Issues related to the repayment of debts: - The first external debt payments amounting up to $ 7 billion are foreseen in 2018. In the absence of the state's strategy of managing external and internal debt, additional challenges are encountered for the development of the country. - The Russian Federation has announced the possibility of reassigning Yanukovych's debt in the amount of $ 3 billion to another country. This event may lead to the additional debt burden on the Ukrainian economy. - The Stockholm Arbitration Court postponed its decision on the dispute between “Gazprom” and “Naftogaz”. The results on key issues of this case are expected in the next year. 3) Issues related to the energy sector: - The construction and development of the North and South Stream, the reduce of the pressure in the Ukrainian gas pipeline system increases Ukraine`s risk of losing the status of a transit state and reducing revenues to the budget. - The problem of stability of Ukraine's energy supply, especially in the context of economic blockade of the non-government controlled areas, is acutely facing the Ukrainian government. In addition, the issues of efficiency and green energy, the issues of attracting investment in alternative energy and monitoring energy consumption, the issues of further synchronization of Ukrainian and foreign energy networks also require development. 4) Issues related to reforms: - The proper implementation of pension and medical reform in Ukraine is important. The problem in this issue is the balance between the needs of society and the needs of the government to save. - The proper implementation of other reforms, in particular regarding the fight against corruption, decreasing the shadow economy, maintaining key development indicators, land reform are vital for obtaining the next tranche of IMF in 2018. Moreover, Ukraine has a chance to get macro-financial assistance from the EU after solving the issue of moratorium on the export of logs. - The regulation of the lottery market can also contribute to additional revenue to the state budget. Thus, Ukrainian government demonstrated both achievements and failures to ensure the economic development of the country in 2017. In its turn, the year 2018 will not be easier than the current one, and it will be necessary to minimize the mentioned risks to the economic growth. At the same time, the question of achieving the GDP growth at 3% in 2018, that is projected by the Cabinet of Ministers, remains unclear, while having almost twice lower growth at 1.8% in 2017 and while the absence of concrete steps to achieve such figures. The government has nothing distinctively new to offer in 2018 yet. It is vitally urgent to rethink the tasks for economic development in order to change the stagnation trends, to provide new incentives and to avoid the label of populism. Only systemic reforms and search for the drivers of economy can pave the way for more dynamic economic growth.  ...

ICPS Press
26.12.2017

Round table discussion “What is happening in Ukraine's relations with its western neighbors?”

On the 20th of December 2017, in Kyiv InterCintinental conference hall was held an expert round table “What is happening in Ukraine's relations with its western neighbors?”, organized by the International Center for Policy Studies along with the Ukrainian Association of Foreign Policy. The purpose of the event was to discuss possible ways of stabilizing Ukraine's bilateral relations with its western neighbors. Yevhen Yaroshenko, ICPS Senior Analyst, mentioned that the crisis in relations with its neighbors on the western border of Ukraine reflects the current crisis of both Ukrainian foreign policy identity in general, and Ukrainian “Neighborhood Policy” in particular. “This crisis is conditioned by the insufficient attention to the development of relations with the western neighbors during last years, the lack of a systematic analysis of the internal situation in neighboring countries. One of the key challenges facing Ukrainian foreign policy today is an urgent analysis of the status of relations with neighboring countries and the development of recommendations that would prevent them from further deterioration and, ideally, would help to resolve the problem and practical implementation of the bilateral partnership as soon as possible”, - says Yaroshenko. Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Ukraine to the Republic of Hungary (1992-1997, 2006-2010) Dmitry Tkach, emphasized that there are currently several experts in Ukraine, who are investigating Ukrainian-Hungarian relations and who should be involved in the discussion of the Neighborhood Policy . “Ukraine should initiate a meeting of the Ukrainian-Hungarian Commission on the issues of ensuring the rights of national minorities, which was last held in 2011”, the diplomat stressed. Director of the International Relations Center Mykola Kapitonenko noted that the problems of Ukraine's relations with its western neighbors have rather complex nature. “This is determined by the level of global security, the level of Ukrainian-Russian contradictions, regional and internal political levels. Central and Eastern European countries have more selfish interests, and the mechanisms of regional interaction are weak. Under such systematic conditions, Ukraine has to pay a much higher price for its weakness”, says Kapitonenko. ...

ICPS Press
20.12.2017