The week before last, the newly-elected Civic Council of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs held a session at the Diplomatic Academy. By contrast with the previous council, where well-known and high-skilled experts held the sway, diplomats are now going to be “advised” by the people who are far from international relations but, instead, are very close to the Embassy of God. It will be recalled that latter’s head, pastor Sunday Adelaja, is being accused of serious fraud – appropriating his parishioner’s money. While investigation is underway, he is forbidden to leave Ukraine.
The head of the council is Volodymyr Shchelkunov, president of the International Chamber of Commerce’s Ukrainian Committee. His deputy is Oleksandr Korman, an Embassy of God pastor.
Iryna Bekeshkina, director general of the Democratic Initiatives foundation is convinced that the presence of “our guys” in this council will allow influencing the situation and making “right” decisions. Besides, “the new Civic Council does not have even a single analytical center that has been dealing with international matters for many years,” she writes on her Facebook page.
Meanwhile, Ruslan Demchenko, First Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, said, addressing the new Civic Council: “We watched with interest yesterday as you were preparing for this meeting. Now we are going to work together. I expect you to give recommendations on Ukraine’s foreign-policy activities.”
The Day turned for comment to Valerii CHALY, Deputy Director General of the Razumkov Center, who was deputy foreign minister in 2009-10 and tried to encourage the Civic Council to support and monitor the ministry’s work.
“At the time, there were no questions of any privileges, such as identity cards (a much-debated point now), special premises, or some other additional perks. There was a common desire of the two sides to serve this country’s interests, exchange information, and add more transparency to the foreign ministry’s activities. Besides, the ministry had a scientific expert council which was supposed to carry out close examination of the foreign-policy decisions in the making.
“What is going on now does not apply to the foreign ministry only. It is a systemic problem. The authorities always find it easier to work with those who blindly trust them. I am worried over what happened today in the foreign ministry and over the fact that they showed such a calm attitude to this. The council is exclusively attached to a concrete central body of executive power.
“This ministry’s view that this [election of the new Civic Council. – Ed.] is the problem of citizens themselves is rather vulnerable. I would suggest that my colleagues should not struggle for this council. The ministry should think about the image it will have after these latest pieces of information.
“I do not think that lack of expert support for the foreign ministry is a tragedy. They can do all this on their own if they wish to. Conversely, simulating the development of civil society and trying to replace its viable elements with chimerical ones and the ones that deal with altogether different things runs counter to the principles that form the idea of interaction between civic councils and the authorities.
“I would suggest that the government look up Resolution No.966 [“On Participation of the Public in the Formation and Pursuance of National Policies. – Ed.] and see what effect it has. If the foreign ministry had requested the government to take into account its specific functions and pointed out the necessity of professionalism and knowledge of at least the basic foreign-policy approaches, the present situation would not have arisen. The government’s calm reaction to this situation shows that this suits it quite well.”