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Maidan anniversary: lessons of the Revolution and future prospects – expert analysis

Київ, November 22, 2016.

The active civil society that sprung up as a result of the Revolution set basis for reforms, some are in place, yet most are still underway, which irritates Ukrainians.

As of today, most experts define events of Euromaidan as “Revolution of Dignity” – revolution for democracy and European way for the country. Most of them believe that Maidan has “won”, however, its goals have been achieved just partly, especially in rooting out corrupt schemes in the state system. These are results of a survey of 69 experts, organsied by Ilko Kucheriv Democratic Initiatives Foundation on November 11-18. The results were presented at a discussion at Ukraine Crisis Media Center.

The revolution is still going on, the experts say: nowadays Maidan continues in politics, economy, civil society initiatives and international policy, said Iryna Bekeshkina, director of by Ilko Kucheriv Democratic Initiatives Foundation.

#Victories: European choice, first reforms and activation of civil society
Among the achieved goals the experts mentioned the choice of European future, Association Agreement with the EU, defeating the Yanoukivich regime, partial “reset” of the state system by small teams of young professionals in the Parliament and in the Government who came from civil society and business. They also recon as a success the launch of anti-corruption institutions such as the National Agency for Prevention of Corruption, National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine and Anti-Corruption Prosecutor’s Office as well as the launch of e-declarations system. The Western experts say that Ukraine has never seen so profound reforms. The problem is that these reforms create an institutional basis for changes, but is will take time to make the result visible for ordinary people, said Oleksiy Haran, scientific director of the Ilko Kucheriv Democratic Initiatives Foundation, professor of Political Science at the Kyiv Mohyla Academy.

According to Oleksiy Garan, the return to the Constitution of 2004 should also be mentioned as one of key achievements: Ukraine returned to parliamentary-presidential model of state, leaving less power to the President. This eliminated possibilities for creation of authoritarian state model. However, at present there is risk of opposition between the Cabinet of Ministers, the Parliament and the President, what Ukraine has already seen after the Orange Revolution.

In economics, Ukraine “still has not achieved a point of no return, however, the progress is probably bigger than ever before during the 25 years [of independence], said Pavlo Kukhta, deputy head of strategic advisers group on reforms in Ukraine. According to VoxUkraine index, there is a constant tendency to positive changes, however, they are very slow. Pavlo Kukhta noted that economic crisis and drop in living standards cannot be considered the direct consequence of Maidan: these problems were constantly accumulating since economic crisis in 2008-2009, revolution and war were just a catalyst.

The most important positive result of Maidan is the awakening of active civil society and a powerful volunteer movement in all the sectors of public life, from supporting the Army to expert NGOs who create reforms policy for various sectors. At the same time, said Iryna Bekeshkina, paternalism is still alive. Yet now the ordinary people rely mostly on civil society, instead of politicians.

In a wider historical context, Maidan has resulted in creation of Ukrainian political nation, and this is the most important achievement, noted Oleksiy Garan and Evhen Bystritsky, executive director of Renaissance International Foundation.

#Failures: rooting out corruption
Fighting corruption throughout the state system remains the biggest challenge. Institutional and legal basis has already been created, however, the system resists fiercely. Ukraine needs to start radical fight with corruption, to change the system and the citizen’s attitude to corrupt practices. “Without strong pressure of civil society and international partners we won’t succeed,” noted Iryna Bekeshkina.

Secondly, those guilty of crimes against Maidan participants still have not been punished. Representatives of the Yanukovich regime haven’t been brought to justice for corruption and other crimes.

The demand of Maidan for parliamentary elections with open lists of political parties’ members is unfulfilled too.

What’s next?
Early parliamentary elections won’t change the situation for better, said Oleksiy Garan. Public opinion on this issue varies, most are against. Moreover, the majority don’t believe that the new Parliament would be more efficient.

According to results of the survey by Democratic Initiatives Foundation, most experts consider that one more Maidan in short-term is an unlikely perspective, there may be only smaller protests on particular issues. However, society is getting more tired and irritated because of the slow pace of reforms and economic problems. If Ukraine implements economic reforms successfully, the situation will gradually improve. If not, the consequences are hard to predict.

The only way to a complete victory is the pressure on the government
The experts unanimously agreed that the only way to achieve a complete victory of Maidan is the pressure on the government from the civil society on the one side and from the Western partners on the other. The society should give up the slogan “let’s change the government” and act through lobbying laws, looking for support in the executive power, said Oleksiy Garan.

According to Yevhen Bystrytskyi, the main actors of change will be active youth from the civil society. They are already present in the Parliament and participate in creation of the political agenda of reforms. However, the country needs more young people to participate in these changes.

International aspect
Volodymyr Ohryzko, Ukrainian diplomat, Minister of foreign affairs of Ukraine in 2007-2009, stressed that further support from the international partners directly depends on the pace of reforms. “If we don’t start real fight with corruption, deregulation of the economy, reform of judiciary and so on – diplomacy will not work,” he stressed.

The main task for Ukraine on the international level is to start proactive policy. “This means that we need to form the agenda that would give advantages to Ukraine. We need to put it very clear that we want bilateral security agreements and real, practical military support. The Budapest Memorandum was not signed by the Second Secretaries, it was signed by the Presidents. This is a document of the highest political weight”, stressed Volodymyr Ogryzko.

The experts emphasized that the UN resolution on the human rights situation in Crimea where the term “occupation” is used is a very important strategic victory. It is very important that India and China were among countries which supported it.

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