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Where there is no law, but every man does what is right in his own eyes, there is the least of real liberty
Henry M. Robert

Ukraine needs a new Marshall Plan

28 January, 2014 - 09:29
Photo by Mykola TYMCHENKO, The Day

For over two months Europe is looking at Ukraine, not seeing what is most important. It does not matter whether the opposition leaders will be in the new government. After the Orange Revolution they took all decision-making positions, but did not change the country. The problem lies in the structure of the Ukrainian economy, the lack of middle class and the wide range of influence of contemporary magnates, called oligarchs. Resources of the economy are running out, without modernization everyone will lose. Ukrainian politicians should decide for themselves how they want to get out of this dead end. They should hear three things from the West: the essence of the changes are reforms and not personnel changes, an association agreement with the EU may not be signed in the coming months – at least until the election – and that there is a new plan for Ukraine, which will be launched under the condition of will of change.

Poland should start this initiative. The first step should be an international conference with the participation of the EU and the United States. Participation of America is necessary because the sources of current instability and crisis lay not only in the activity of the Kremlin and the weakness of the EU, but also the lack of interest of Washington towards Ukraine and surprising tactics of the International Monetary Fund, which was not ready for any concessions towards Ukraine. Polish diplomacy should change language of its diagnosis on situation in Ukraine. It should be said clearly that some actors of the current events are hidden behind the curtain, especially the Kremlin and the oligarchs. In the case of the latter we should think how to incorporate them into the plan. Today those who a few months ago demanded to “solve the problem of oligarchy” – however abstract it sounds nowadays – are waiting for gestures and statements of Rinat Akhmetov in the belief that they are more important to stop the violence than Mr. van Rompuy’s calls. It sounds oddly when people die and EU is limiting to the general appeals to the Ukrainian authorities not to use violence and repeating that the Association Agreement is still on the table. Moscow should receive message that the stake should be further cooperation with the EU on the previous terms. In a message to the oligarchs, the most important issue is their agreement to modernize the economy and the acceptation of democratic game in all its aspects. While the oligarchs accept the election, whereas some of them find it difficult to accept the separation of economy from politics, the normal rules of tenders etc. It blocks the youngest generation the access to the capital and they are exactly those who protest on the Maidan.

Photo by Artem SLIPACHUK, The Day

Ukraine needs a new Marshall Plan. In relation with society and the main political forces its essence should be to exchange help for democratization. Magnates should accept “option zero” in exchange for agreeing to a general change in the rules of the game and the liquidation of oligarchic structures of the state. Only in such conditions, the new Ukrainian government will receive instruments for real reform of the country.

Photo by Mykola TYMCHENKO, The Day

Plan for Ukraine should have two main pillars: economic and social one. When it comes to the economy, in the first phase we should focus on the renovation of the gas transmission system and specifically on the ongoing modernization of the Pomary-Urengoy-Uzhhorod pipeline. In the second phase emphasis should be put on the modernization of industrial plants. Here, the solution may be to create – in exchange for money to modernize – preferential conditions for joint ventures companies. The third phase would be the modernization of road and rail infrastructure. Putting the EU and US capital in a planned way will be an impulse for modernization of the country and in the long term for sustainable improvement in relations between Ukraine and the West. The success of the project, however, depends on a change of business law and court procedures.

Photo by Mykola TYMCHENKO, The Day

On the social level, there are two key issues: the abolition of visas and the launching of a major educational institution, the University of Eastern Partnership. There are no technical obstacles for the liberalization of the visa regime, Kyiv fulfilled all key elements established in the action plan. EU officials keep repeating that not authorities but Ukrainian society is their partner. It is time to fulfill this declaration and name a specific date for the abolition of visas for Ukrainians. In parallel, we should invest in a new generation of Ukrainians, Georgians, Moldovans. It should become a common aim of all countries of our region to launch the University of Eastern Partnership – a place where, regardless of the policy, scientific cooperation at the highest level will be carried out.

Pawel KOWAL: Ukrainian politicians should decide for themselves how they want to get out of this dead end. They should hear three things from the West: the essence of the changes are reforms and not personnel changes, an association agreement with the EU may not be signed in the coming months – at least until the election – and that there is a new plan for Ukraine, which will be launched under the condition of will of change.

On the organizational level, implementation of such a plan should base on the additions to the association agreement. Only if the plan will be implemented, the agreement would acquire meaning by means of the IMF and the additional contribution of the United States and other countries which want to change Ukraine on the basis of the principle “modernization for democracy.”

Photo by Mykola TYMCHENKO, The Day

It does not matter if we build new villa when our neighbor lives in khrushchyovka. Change for better in your neighborhood is a guarantee of your own prosperity and security, and sometimes even profit. After the Second World War, Western Europe received 13 billion dollars. After the Rose Revolution, Western countries also have been spending money for reforms in Georgia. After the Orange Revolution in Ukraine in 2004, the world has not submitted Kyiv a new offer. This is also a reason why Euromaidan broke out, there has been a bloodshed and wasted years, which could have been spent on reforms. Today we need a new Marshall Plan. For Ukraine it could be a concrete offer and a historic opportunity to develop the country. If such initiative would come from Polish side, for our diplomacy it could be much more than the Eastern Partnership plan. Today, our role is to submit a new offer. But the choice depends on the Ukrainian authorities.

By Pawel KOWAL, MEP, lecturer at the Institute of Political Studies, Polish Academy of Sciences, special to The Day

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