Elections in France: Europe's crucial day

On April 23, 2017 in France the first round of presidential elections will take place. Among the 11 presidential candidates there are five favourites who have a real chance to fight for access to the second round of elections. According to recent opinion polls, 24% of French citizens are ready to vote for the centre-left candidate Emmanuel Macron, 23% - for the leader of the extreme-right "National Front" Marine Le Pen, 19% - for the centre-right candidate Francois Fillon, 19% - for the ultra-leftist candidate Jean-Luc Melenchon and 8,5% - for the socialist Benoit Amon. While the choice of French citizens will be largely determined by the candidates` approaches to solving social and economic problems, migration, fight against terrorism, the global players are more interested in what will be the French foreign policy under the new president. Depending on the victory of one or another candidate the substantial changes in France's relations with key global players may occur. EU Macron, Fillon and Amon belong to the “euro-optimists”, although each of the three candidates sees the future of the EU in their own way. Emmanuel Macron stands for the deepening integration in financial, security and defence sector as well as the democratization of the EU. Francois Fillon proposes to deepen security cooperation in the EU, but to return more powers in other areas to national governments. Benoit Amon differs in the resistance to the austerity policy and intentions to democratize the EU. Thus, the victory of any of these candidates cannot resolve contradictions between different groups of EU countries. Yes, Macron`s victory will increase the contradictions between the Franco-German tandem and Central Europe countries, Fillon`s accession to power will bring France and Central and Northern Europe countries together but it may undermine the Franco-German relations, and Amon`s presidency will deepen the split between South and North Europe. Instead, the victory of extreme-right or ultra-leftist candidate in France will hurt the economy and prestige of the EU. If Marine Le Pen or Jean-Luc Melenchon will become the president, so France may withdraw from the Euro zone and the Schengen area and also submit Frexit to the national referendum. However Melenchon occupies a softer stance on the possible France withdrawal from the EU than the leader of the "National Front". USA French-American relations are likely to remain unchanged in case of victory of Emmanuel Macron or Francois Fillon. In this scenario, France will remain a part of the NATO military structure and continue to be one of the most important US allies in Europe. Despite the “awakening of the Anglo-Saxon world” (Brexit and Trump`s victory), Marine Le Pen`s accession to power will complicate relations between Paris and Washington because it will be harder for charismatic leaders of the two countries to achieve political or economic agreements. Bilateral relations will deteriorate further in case of victory of Jean-Luc Melenchon who considers NATO an instrument of “American imperialism”. Anti-Tramp statements of Benoit Amon will also complicate the Franco-American relations in the case of the socialist victory however a substantial revision of the strategic areas of bilateral cooperation won`t take place. Russia The most profitable scenario for Russia is the accession to power of Marine Le Pen or Jean-Luc Melenchon. The common goal unites the Kremlin and European extreme-right and ultra-leftist politicians: fragmentation of the EU and NATO. In addition, Le Pen or Melenchon can recognize the annexation of Crimea and help to build a new world order more acceptable to Russia. In case of Francois Fillon`s victory the French-Russian rapprochement will be limited by lifting the sanctions in connection with the “Ukrainian crisis” and the fight against terrorism in the Middle East. By Emmanuel Macron`s presidency France will try to simultaneously support sanctions against Russia and carry on dialogue with the Kremlin in solving of other international problems. Benoit Amon currently shows the most critical position towards Russia's actions in Ukraine and Syria, but the socialist has a very little chance to get into the second round of presidential elections. Expectations of Ukraine Ukrainian-French relations have never been close since the independence of Ukraine. Our country has never occupied an important place in the foreign policy of France. No matter who wins the election, Ukraine should not expect to deepen relations with France or Paris support of Kyiv rapprochement with the EU and NATO. The national interests of Ukraine may be considerably affected only by the change in the position of France in Normandy Quartet under the new president. In the case of a hypothetical victory of Benoit Amon France may take more loyal position to Ukraine on the conflict settlement in Donbas. If Emmanuel Macron will become the president, France is likely to continue the balanced and equidistance policy towards Ukraine and Russia, followed by Hollande. Instead, the victory of any of the three candidates - Marine Le Pen, Francois Fillon or Jean-Luc Melenchona - will lead to a rapprochement between France and Russia and worsen the international position of Ukraine. However, Ukraine must avoid the sole support of any of the presidential candidates in France and not to repeat the mistakes made by Ukrainian politicians and diplomats during the presidential elections in Poland in 2015, the United States and Moldova in 2016. In contrast, Ukraine should establish contacts with all the favourites of the election race and prepare for different scenarios of French foreign policy.  ...

Yevgeniy Yaroshenko
05.05.2017

Diplomatic briefing "Inside Ukraine"

The analysis “Inside Ukraine” was traditionally represented to the diplomatic corps. Recent developments affected directly the content of “Public policies”: on April 13, 2017 officials of the Prosecutor's Office of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea (ARC) and the Security Service of Ukraine (SSU) searched premises of the Ukrainian think-tank ICPS in order to find “The idea for resolving the conflict in Donbas”. Search of the think-tank caused an outcry by Ukrainian civil society and human rights activists. “This loud event may be an alarming signal of changing Ukrainian government policy towards peaceful settlement, respect for democratic norms and fundamental freedoms, as well as its attitude on civil society in general”, - Vasyl Filipchuk noted. Vasyl Povoroznyk, summing up the results of work of the Groysman government in 2016, stressed that the main developments of the government, according to the report, include restoring macroeconomic growth. Generally, the first year of the Groysman government neither brought serious disappointments, nor demonstrated specific achievements in implementing reforms. The strategic priorities of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine in 2016 were the following: macroeconomic stabilization; creating favorable conditions for business development;  ensuring rule of law and combating corruption;  improving the quality of public administration and public services; restoration of state and citizens’ security. According to the report, the government achieved positive results in each strategic area identified in the plan of work. However, most of these achievements the government have either formal or dual character. Anatoliy Oktysyuk presented possible scenarios in political competition, in particular several options for political developments in the country: reshaping of the coalition and government structures, freezing of the current situation until 2019 or early parliamentary elections in autumn 2017....

ICPS Press
27.04.2017

The statement on the inadmissibility of persecution for expressing an expert opinion

                                                To the President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko To the Prosecutor General of Ukraine Yuriy Lutsenko To the Prosecutor of Autonomous Republic of Crimea Giunduz Mamedov                                                On April 13, the office of the International Centre for Policy Studies (ICPS) in Kyiv was searched as part of the case on the so-called “peaceful plan of MP Artemenko” by the officials of the Prosecutor's Office of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea. People’s Deputy Andriy Artemenko is accused of high treason under the Article 111 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine. He is charged with the assistance to Russia in conducting subversive activities against Ukraine that expressed in the appeals to let Crimea in long-term lease to the Russian Federation and thereby to legitimize temporary occupation. In the basis of the “peaceful plan” of MP Artemenko, as it stated in a court order for search conduction, there is a plan“Ideas for the conflict settlement in Donbas” authored by Vasyl Filipchuk. Not sharing the views of MP Artemenko on “peaceful settlement” ways, we state the illegality of accusations of high treason for the presentation of any ideas, including ideas on peaceful settlement. We are outraged by the search in the analytical center ICPS within the investigation on the case of high treason. These actions of the state are in violation of Article 34 of the Constitution of Ukraine, Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, and also contravene the practices of the European Court of Human Rights (Zana v. Turkey (1997), Lingens v. Austria (1986), § 40; Barfod v. Denmark (1989), Wille v. Liechtenstein (1999) etc.). The search in ICPS is not limited to the violations of the Constitution of Ukraine and international agreements. We qualify the following actions of the state as the offensive against key freedom – expression of views - as an attempt to monopolize the market of ideas and to enforce a state doctrine to the society as the only possible under the pain of prosecution of those who offer other approaches, in especially serious crimes – high treason. Disproportionate state interference in the activities of think tanks is purely obscurantist attempt to establish a monopoly on the truth. ICPS activities by their nature are research and scientific ones. Ukraine declares its desire to become a fully legitimate member of the EU but violates a fundamental principle of the European Union, enshrined in Article 13 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union (2000), according to which, the arts and scientific research shall be free of constraint. Instead, it is the doctrine of "Russkiy mir" which can be characterized by the state monopoly on the truth, restrictions on freedom of expression, persecution for beliefs. Our war with Russia is primarily a war of values. These actions of the state are the value-based defeat, surrender of public interest and “high treason” in the long run. We cannot fight against “Russkiy mir” by means of “Russkiy mir”. We demand to stop the persecution of the think tank ICPS and immediately return everything that was seized during the search. We consider this incident as a manifestation of general trends on violating the balance between national security and human rights for the benefit of national security by the Security Service of Ukraine and prosecuting authorities. And we want to remind once again that a political regime which violates human rights is doomed to failure. Arkadiy Bushchenko, Executive Director of the Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union Yevhen Zakharov, Director of the Kharkiv Human Rights Group...

ICPS Press
18.04.2017

ICPS OFFICIAL STATEMENT

On April 13, 2017 the office of the International Center for Policy Studies was searched. At about 16.00 unknown persons who introduce themselves as investigators of the prosecutor's office of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the officials of the Security Service of Ukraine entered the office with the aim to hand suspicion to Vasyl Filipchuk and to carry out the search in the office. For more than 5 hours, employees were limited in movement and forbidden to use any means of communication. Physical violence was committed against Vasyl Filipchuk which was fixed by respective photo evidence. The entrance to the office space was blocked, investigators refused to pass defenders, lawyers, police and even emergency doctors. According to the investigators, the search was made within the criminal case of “Artemenko”as they consider that ICPS helped the People`s Deputy to elaborate “peaceful plan” of the conflict settlement. WE STRESS that neither ICPS nor experts have been involved in such elaboration of “peaceful plan” or had any personal contacts with the People`s Deputy Andriy Artemenko. ICPS is working for a long time on finding possible ways of peaceful settlement in Eastern Ukraine with the support of the International Renaissance Foundation. All activities within the project “Modelling of the Minsk agreements implementation and support of strategic advisors to the Ministry of Temporary Occupied Territories and IDPs” were PUBLIC, and analytical materials are in open access on the official website of the Center. Ukrainian MPs and the Deputy Minister of Temporarily Occupied Territories and IDPs Georgiy Tuka were involved in pubic consultations. ICPS has always maintained and continues maintaining state position to preserve the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine! ICPS continues current project activities and is committed to its obligations in cooperation with its partners. We consider such actions as unprecedented pressure on civil society and disgrace of judicial system in Ukraine. We call on colleagues from the civil sector, representatives of diplomatic corps and entire international community todemand that persecution of independent analytical centers must be stopped!  ...

ICPS Press
14.04.2017