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.
Constitutional reform: how to reach the new social contract?
During 2016-2017 within the project “The use of world expert experience and public consultations in the process of amending the Constitution of Ukraine” ICPS conducted 213 educational events throughout Ukraine, during which pupils and students had the opportunity to learn about the essence of the constitutional process and the appropriate role of citizens in it. “One problem is the secrecy of the new developing process of constitutional provisions when important decisions are adopted behind closed doors. We want to stop this practice in order to society felt their involvement in the country changes. For this purpose throughout the country we held lessons and lectures on “The Essence of the Constitution and its role in daily life”, - legal expert Veronika Kharuk said. Also, ICPS experts have developed brochures on “Participation of citizens in the constitutional process” which were disseminated in all regions of Ukraine. ICPS regional coordinator in Zhytomyr Zhanna Solovyova noted that in close cooperation with the local authorities they managed to organize a large number of lectures and interest of the audience continues even after project completion. It was estimated that within the framework of the project more than 10,000 students were covered. In his turn, an expert in constitutional law Gennadiy Druzenko noted that the social state norms, which are incorporated in the Constitution, are not actually performed in real conditions. “Free education and medicine – are norms that would be provided by state, but in fact it is only declarative. It is important to have comprehensible rules of the Constitution for people “, - Druzenko said.
ICPS held diplomatic briefing "Inside Ukraine"
Traditionally, ICPS team of experts supported by the Embassy of Switzerland held a briefing for representatives of diplomatic corps on the most pressing domestic political developments. Evgen Yaroshenko in the content “Public Policies - Donbas blockade” noted that the lack of national consensus on the blockade issue allows political forces to use social contradictions as a tool of struggle for power. Recent developments may open a new cycle of political struggle “all against all”. NSDC decision on blockade in non-controlled territories could change the geopolitical situation around the conflict in Donbas. Russia, Germany, France, the USA and other international players will consider NSDC decision on the blockade as a violation of the Minsk agreements. In response the international community reinforce pressure on Ukraine with in order to return to the Minsk process. As a result, the conflict in Donbas may occur in two scenarios. Scenario I: the restoration of full-scale hostilities. The representative of Russia in Trilateral contact group Borys Gryzlov stated that the NSDC decision is a violation of paragraph 8 of the Minsk agreements providing for the restoration of social and economic relations between Ukraine and non-controlled territories. The implementation of NSDC decision will significantly worsen the socio-economic situation in non-controlled territories and can provoke the attack of DPR and LPR militants. In turn, the Armed Forces of Ukraine and volunteer battalions will be ready to counterattack. Scenario II: preservation of low intensity conflict. Blockade in non-controlled territories will give an additional argument in favour to lift the EU and USA sanctions in connection with the conflict in Donbas. In this case, Russia will try to use non-military instruments of pressure on Ukraine to force Kyiv to political concessions. In turn, Ukraine will avoid the worst effects of hostilities, but the conflict in Donbas will continue to split the society and political elite. The content “Political Competition” devoted to High-profile criminal cases: fight against corruption or redivision of influence spheres? Anatoly Oktysyuk stressed that over the past two years no top official or influential politician was brought to criminal liability in Ukraine. The majority of criminal cases led by the NABU collapsed in courts due to a weak evidence base (i.e. the cases of Odesa Port Plant and United Mining and Chemical Company) or were initiated by the Presidential Administration as an instrument of political competition and were never completed (i.e. the case of Mykola Martynenko, which became one of the factors for political weakening and resignation of Prime Minister Yatsenyuk ). The fight against corruption has become a tool of political competition therefore the arrest and trial over SFS Head Roman Nasirov may demonstrate the real intentions of the Ukrainian authorities as regards fight against corruption to the society and international community or permanently discredit the new anti-corruption bodies and the authorities. The expert Veronica Kharuk presented Prospects for establishment of Anti-Corruption Court. The establishment of independent anti-corruption courts is envisaged by the Memorandum between Ukraine and the IMF, as well as by strategic documents for implementation of the anti-corruption reform. An important fact in the implementation of anti-corruption courts is that the authorities should complete the judicial reform, which provides for overcoming corruption in the existing courts and reboot of the judicial corps on the principles of integrity, independence and accountability. Senior economist Vasily Povoroznyk noted about Privatization in Ukraine: Problems and Prospects. In general, in 2016- 2017 years there are about 450 objects considered for privatization. These are 20 large enterprises, 50 medium-sized companies and about 380 objects of small privatization. After privatization of state property no more than 300 enterprises should remain. The SPF planned to fill up the budget with 17.1 billion UAH from the sale of state companies in 2016.
Public discussions in the regions: "Mоdels and costs of Donbas conflict settlement"
ICPS within the project "Modeling the implementation of the Minsk agreements and the support of strategic advisers to MinTOT, supported by the International Fund "Renaissance" held a public discussion "The settlement of the conflict in Donbas: model and price" in Kramatorsk. The conflict in Donbas remains a primary challenge to Ukraine’s national security. The peaceful settlement of the conflict is hampered by the lack of a state strategy for reintegrating the particular districts of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions (uncontrolled Donbas) as a result of disparities among the political elite. Analyst Yevgen Yaroshenko noted the international experience of conflict resolution. There are four possible models. The Bosnian model is based on preserving the state’s territorial integrity in exchange for its federalization. The Bosnian model may bring peace to Ukraine, though it will not contribute to resolving the causes of the conflict. Such a scenario is more favourable for Russia and the West as it will not divert additional resources from them in the confrontation over Ukraine. The Croatian model provides for an alternative solution to the Minsk process, relying on unilateral actions and the military advantage of government forces.The Pakistani model arose from prolonged and deadly conflicts when the state either realizes that it cannot defeat separatist forces by military means or concludes that resources invested in retaining disloyal territory enormously exceed potential benefits derived from reintegrating these areas. The German model provides for the returning of lost territories on pre-war terms by means of peaceful negotiations with external players involved. Senior economist Vasyl Povoroznyk said about costs of Donbas conflict settelement. A basic economic assessment of the implementation of one or other model of conflict resolution in eastern Ukraine should take into account the role of the region and its contribution to the economy of Ukraine in the pre-conflict period, an assessment of actual losses of the region as a result of conducting ATO and also the costs of conducting full-scale military operations in the ATO zone. Anatoliy Oktysiuk presented the positions of Ukrainian political parties regarding Donbas conflict settlement: "Ukraine’s current political forces have essential differences in attitudes towards resolving the conflict in Donbas. The ruling political parties demonstrate a vague vision of how uncontrolled Donbas should be reintegrated, avoiding decisive steps in this area for fear of political destabilization and early parliamentary elections. At the same time, oppositional and non-parliamentary forces enjoy larger room for maneuver and are more active in advancing their proposals for reintegrating uncontrolled Donbas".
Public dialogue is the foundation of constitutional process
The ICPS with the support of the International Renaissance Foundation continues its activities within the project ‘The use of world expert experience and public consultations in the process of amending the Constitution of Ukraine’. Its goal is to use the best international practices and expert experience to raise the public awareness that the Constitution shall be established by the citizens themselves without the influence of political forces. The majority of regional events have been already conducted: project coordinators and regional representatives have conducted over 100 events in Ukrainian cities and urban-type settlements in all of the 24 regions. In particular, ICPS legal expert Veronika Kharuk said on the radio that a public problem is that many people even are unaware of the rights which are entitled to. If they were aware of their rights, they would try to ensure that the constitutional rights should be exercised. This project is aimed at informing the public of their rights. We are working with students and senior pupils in all regions. Over 5,000 have already attended our lectures where we explain what are the Constitution and its purpose. ‘A major problem in Ukraine is that citizens do not perceive that they are involved in framing the Constitution which has rather declarative character. All constitutional amendments were being made behind closed doors. Following the revolution people started to realize its involvement. Now it is important that the constitutional process should put down roots and citizens should realize its attitude towards this process and how they may influence on the state’, said the project manager Serhiy Kishchenko. Initialing dialogue at local level is an important achievement since the regions hosted public discussions with regional representatives and local expert being involved. We hope that such a wide public discussion will make citizens feel responsible, unveil their willingness to participate in the constitutional process and assert the provisions of the Fundamental Law.
Interaction in communication: how media and government may jointly contribute to developing pluralistic society in Ukraine
The International Centre for Policy Studies continues its activities to bring Ukrainian society closer to European democratic institutions. A project ‘Interaction in communication: how media and government may jointly contribute to developing pluralistic society in Ukraine’ is a part of ICPS activities in the sphere of strategic communications, supported by the German Federal Foreign Office and the US Department of State in partnership with Cultural Vistas (Germany). This year the ICPS focused on Ukrainian media by providing Ukrainian journalists with an opportunity to learn German experience in efficient system of communication. In late 2016, 15 nationwide and local journalists took a weeklong internship in Berlin where they learnt the communication process between media and society and the German Federal Government. A number of meetings contributed to sharing experience between Ukrainian media with German officials and journalists working for popular newspapers in the world, such as Der Spiegel, Der Tagesspiegel, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Deutsche Welle, Reporters without Borders and public broadcasters ARD, ZDF and Rundfunk Berlin-Brandenburg (RBB). These communications are successful since all German state authorities perceive ‘communications as services’. An efficient communications system provides German population and media with an opportunity to receive first-hand information on policies of the German Federal Government, and explanation of its purposes and actions. How many funds does the German Federal Government allocates for communications? The 2017 budget provides for EUR 109.3 mln for the Federal government press office. This amount also covers learning public opinion as an important component of external interaction. German authorities are open to media and constantly accountable before journalists who initiated a tradition of weekly audiences with politicians in 1949. Representatives of all German ministries take part in the Federal press conference (Bundespressekonferenz) where they three times per week respond to hardball questions by media and present a state authorities strategy. Mutual respect and adherence to ‘rules of the game’ between government officials and media helped Germany to establish an efficient interaction in the system ‘media-government-public’.