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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

Yatseniuk: Ukrainian Balcerowicz or new Prince Lvov?..

13 March, 2014 - 11:46

Georgy Lvov was a liberal Russian politician, who came to power after the February revolution in 1917. He proclaimed freedom of the press and democratic freedom, he stand firmly and had a good plan. He was working on everything but not on a key problem, which was agricultural reform. In July 1917 he was gone, and after the October Revolution had to flee to America.

Balcerowicz in Poland after 1989 has not wasted a minute since the September 12, when he was designated as the Deputy Prime Minister in the first non-communist Polish government, in which he was responsible for the reforms. He exposed to many groups, made a lot of mistakes, but he used the Western aid, stabilized the currency, and entered the Polish history. He understood that reforms after the revolution is a game for points, but also on time.

Social expectations in Ukraine significantly exceed those that could be observed after the Orange Revolution. Therefore half-measures can make harm. European Union offer is not better than the proposal that Yanukovych submitted during the fateful summit in Vilnius. Someone will say that money lie on the table. But only money will not solve the problems of Ukraine. John Kerry declared in Kyiv 1 billion dollars of financial aid, the EU declares 11 billion euro and International Monetary Fund – 3 billion dollars. Kyiv will not receive most of the money in cash – money which will be send to the accounts of the government of Ukraine should be enough only to cover the budget commitments to pensioners or health care professional. It will reduce the risk of a sudden collapse of the state’s financials and rebellion against Turchynov and Yatseniuk. Non-payment of social benefits in Ukraine is a risk of violent protests under the populist slogans to nationalize assets of the rich, give away “everything” to people etc. People have a right to be angry, because in recent months the government of Mykola Azarov deliberately withheld pension payments to blame Maidan for delays. People, especially if they sacrifice to the revolution, cannot be patient or forgiving for too long. In a few weeks a sharper criticism of Yatseniuk will appear, perhaps heated up by some activists of Maidan and populist slogans about “ruining” its ideals. There is no doubt that the Russian propaganda is aimed at reviewing the new government. So from the February Revolution in Ukraine may be as close to the next as in Petrograd in 1917 and the worst may be yet to come.

If EU, USA and Ukraine are able to realize 90 percent of these ideas before the elections, it is possible that Yatseniuk will not share the fate of Prince Lvov and the people will support politicians who took over the helm of the country. Each inconsistency and wasting time will be used by Vladimir Putin, who recently said that between the lines. Crimea is nothing compared to what could happen: the hell of the new government may be pro-Russian protests with separatist, social or political background. Such destabilization, supported by Russian propaganda, can have an unimaginable range

To avoid this scenario, the EU first needs to provide emergency assistance in cash: the credibility of the EU’s promises is one of the elements of social legitimacy of the new government in Kyiv. Later, but still before the elections on May 25, 2014, the EU needs to shake hands with the United States and jointly prepare and publicly present a comprehensive plan for Ukraine, let’s say new Marshall Plan. It should consist of a financial program for 7-10 years, a business development program in Ukraine in order to stimulate the creation of even a thin layer of the middle class. Part of this plan should be concrete and not too distant date of signing of the Association Agreement with the entire EU (before the election) and the abolition of the visa regime. Financial support should be much higher than previously declared, but written out in stages and controlled by newly established Council of Donors and Friends of Ukraine. It would have an advisory and control role: how to spend the funds, how to reform the various aspects of social life in Ukraine etc. Such an institution should connect professionals from different fields, countries and institutions, including NGOs.

The key is that people on the Maidan demanded not only the exchange of the talking heads, but also change of the rules of the game in Ukraine. Yatseniuk at that time must pre-stabilize the budget, to introduce anti-corruption law, the ban on parties financing by the oligarchs, the reform of the courts and introduce strong local government. In short, the plan for Ukraine is divided in two parts: in a short time the West must fulfill its obligations and the Ukrainian government has to launch reforms. Those plans are like antibiotic: they work if given in the right dose and the right time; otherwise it could get even worse.

If EU, USA and Ukraine are able to realize 90 percent of these ideas before the elections, it is possible that Yatseniuk will not share the fate of Prince Lvov and the people will support politicians who took over the helm of the country. Each inconsistency and wasting time will be used by Vladimir Putin, who recently said that between the lines. Crimea is nothing compared to what could happen: the hell of the new government may be pro-Russian protests with separatist, social or political background. Such destabilization, supported by Russian propaganda, can have an unimaginable range.

If the EU stops on the financial injection for Kyiv and the signing of the Association Agreement only in the political part and the United States will not declare anything more than the overall promise of a “billion dollars,” it would mean that the West does not understand that the Ukrainians want something more than the exchange of one politician on the other. This will mean that the EU and United States once again have not learned the Ukrainian lessons and want to buy cheap stabilization without reforms. The one who tries to make such a transaction always gets shoddy, which runs the successive stages of the revolution in a more radical form. The EU and the USA quite unexpectedly have to re-evaluate a large part of its foreign policy. If they do not do that, in few years we will face even greater threats than today.

It seems that the chance of Yatseniuk to become a Ukrainian Balcerowicz does not depend only on prime minister himself, but also on international community, which already verbally supported his government. Now it is time for concretes and understanding that support for Ukraine is a guarantee of security in the future.

By Pawel KOWAL, MEP
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