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It is too early to be certain that reforms in Ukraine are irreversible – Chatham House report

Kyiv, December 11, 2017.

Chatham House presented the “The Struggle for Ukraine” report, which describes Ukraine’s achievements since the Euromaidan, as well as the areas in which the government is failing to meet civil society’s expectations. The main areas of research are security and defense, European integration, economic reforms, democratic consolidation, civil society, anti-corruption reforms, etc. “Quite independently seven authors of this report concluded that it is not certain that these reforms are irreversible. They could stop. They could go backward. This is the key issue I would stress today – the outside world wants to see Ukraine succeed, and wants to see further progress. One of the key areas is measures against corruption,” said independent expert Janet Gunn during a presentation of the report at the Ukraine Crisis Media Center.

The report recognizes Ukraine’s considerable achievements since the Revolution of Dignity: institutional changes in the government and the judiciary system, a number of constitutional changes and the launch of many other sectoral reforms. The emergence of new politicians in the government, reform of Ukraine’s public administration, and open competition for some posts in the civil service, judiciary, and anti-corruption bodies show an important shift in the political system. “There has been a certain amount of renewal of political class. New people have entered the Rada, people who are younger, who come from different walks of life, not out of the normal political class. There is a vibrant civil society pushing for reform, helping the reformists in the legislature and in government, they hold hands on the pulse in many types of work, such as drafting new laws, involvement in verification of appointment of new judges, and so on, “said Janet Gunn.

After Euromaidan, NGOs and volunteer associations have greatly contributed to major areas of Ukraine’s transformation, stressed the manager of the Ukraine Forum Chatham House Orysia Lutsevych. She said that 160 NGOs were surveyed in the course of the preparation of the report. The main conclusion is that civic organizations do not believe the government is ready to cooperate with them. Many decisions are made behind the “closed doors”. “As a civil society, we cannot rely solely on individual political will, as it was after Euromaidan. Ukrainian civil society needs institutional ways to be included in policy making, so that the policy was public and transparent. And this means long public consultations, stakeholder associations. It means Ukrainian NGOs have to go out and reach out to citizens. We must remember, that at the center of democracy is a citizen,” emphasized Orysia Lutsevych.

Corruption is the main problem that is still to be solved, noted Janet Gunn. “Business and politics have no business being together. Businessmen might be in politics, though it seems a little odd for this to happen. But if they are, their business interests should have no influence on their voting and the decision making in politics,” she emphasized. “The outside world perceives that it is in Ukraine’s best interest above all to maintain the momentum, to maintain a forward direction. And it is a matter of great concern for everybody when there appears to be backsliding or pushing back from reform. That said, if there is push-back from reforms – it means they are biting. They are having an effect and they are effecting certain interests in the country, who don’t like it. It is high time to see some actual prosecutions and convictions for corruption, which haven’t taken place so far. There have been arrests – and then nothing, everything just goes into the sand”, elaborated Janet Gunn.

“Our conclusion is that nothing is yet certain. […] At that point what is required is a very strong political will and political leadership from the very top levels of government and the legislature to keep things moving forward and to ensure that what is decided is the right thing and what is decided is implemented, “Janet Gunn summed up.

The report was issued with the support of the Swedish government. Next year the study is to be presented in Kharkiv, Lviv, Odesa, and Dnipro.

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