Kyiv, July 23, 2015. Activists and civil society organizations created the Roadmap for Development of Donetsk and Luhansk Regions, a set of outcomes from thematic panels at the Donbas-Ukraine Agenda, a forum for the development of Donetsk and Luhansk regions, which took place in Sloviansk on July 5. The outcomes drawn by civic activists and authorities will implement step-by-step ideas and decisions for Donbas development, said Valentyn Krasnopyorov, Coordinator of the Strong Communities of Donetsk Region civic movement. Krasnopyorov spoke at a press briefing at Ukraine Crisis Media Center.
According to Krasnopyorov, strong communities must form in Donetsk and Luhansk regions through decentralization. Among other measures, Krasnopyorov said the Fund for Regional Development should support local self-governed projects in Donetsk region. Additionally, Krasnopyorov believes activists should create a comprehensive development program for Sloviansk. “If coordination centers are not established in Mariupol, Sloviansk, Krasnoarmiysk and Severodonetsk, representatives of political parties, civil society and media will not be able to coordinate their actions at the upcoming elections and are likely to face a big threat once again,” said Krasnopyorov. He also stressed the importance of political pluralism in the region.
Bohdana Oleksandrova from the Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE) in Ukraine who also attended the forum said that attendees decided to design and approve a governmental program to provide developmental and entrepreneurial assistance to internally displaced persons (IDPs). Oleksandrova said the program should determine criteria to grant state support to small- and medium-sized businesses in Donetsk and Luhansk regions. Activists additionally suggested creating favorable economic and investment conditions in the area, according to Oleksandrova.
The forum addressed civil society’s call for representatives from the Donbas business community to serve in advisory bodies under respective state institutions. Currently, the primary concern is to keep businesses opened in the troubled region, before focusing on creating new jobs, noted Oleksandrova. “Discussions are to result in a ‘Green Book,’ a document including all problematic issues that businesses come across in the Donbas, and a ‘White Book,’ which will contain practical suggestions as to how these problems can be resolved,” said Oleksandrova.
One of the most daunting problems in the region is the issue of IDPs. Oleksandr Horbatko, Head of Donbas SOS, an NGO, stated that an integrated body addressing IDP issues should be established. Legal issues, accommodation, and the ability to leave the region and integrate into Ukrainian society are among the major issues, according to Horbatko. “We want this body not to be formal but to be functional and to bring results. For this purpose, civic activists and organizations need to take up a leading role. Those who actually deal with IDPs and those for whom this problem is daunting need to take part,” said Horbatko.
Civil activists also called for national dialogue to include representatives from Crimea, Donetsk and Luhansk regions, including temporarily uncontrolled territories, said Olena Zakharova, Head of the project, Establishing national dialogue in Ukraine.
The Forum’s primary result was to coordinate establishment of a civic platform in Ukraine that will improve dialogue with authorities to address Donbas development strategy, emphasized Krasnopyorov. He also reported that Strong Communities of Donetsk Region has already received reconstruction money from central authorities.