Yalta European Strategy (YES) network supporting the development of Ukraine towards European integration has been running since 2004 with the support of Viktor Pinchuk Foundation and other sponsors. I participated for the first time in annual Yalta meeting which was held for the 9th time. I must confess that I was really impressed on the Forum. As the former Polish President and Chairman of the Board Mr. Kwasniewski put it: “the best international conference in the world.” Excellent speakers, a lot of interesting people from politics, business, media, etc., and a lot of exchange of visit cards! Very professionally organized, with a very tight schedule. This kind of discussion forum is really needed.
I talked to some people who had been at the Yalta meeting already many times, and they pointed out that earlier the emphasis had been clearly on Ukraine, but now Ukraine was more in the global context. The topic of the meeting was “Ukraine and the World: Addressing Tomorrow’s Challenges Together.”
The level of speakers was excellent. Ukrainian leaders gave their assessment how things are going in Ukraine. European Commissioner Stefan Fuele emphasized the meaning of the Association Agreement proposing a real reform agenda for Ukraine, but clearly made his point that European Union could go ahead with the signing only if the European values are respected meaning, for example, rule of law, democracy, freedom of media and fair and free elections in October.
We heard a very timely and powerful speech from the Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan reminding that provocations cannot be accepted as a reason to attack innocent people referring to the attack on the US Consulate in Benghazi. On the other hand, in his opinion insulting Islam cannot be accepted in the name of freedom of speech. We also heard other very inspiring speakers like Condoleezza Rice, Newt Gingrich, Richard Bronson, Muhammed Yunus, to name a few.
World Economy was one of the hot topics: what should we be prepared for? Former managing director of IMF, Dominique Strauss-Kahn presented his model on how to solve the eurocrisis on a fair manner. We will see if his Yalta European proposal gets support.
In addition to a good US input, we had also many speakers from Russia, led by Deputy Prime Minister Arkadiy Dvorkovich. It seems that the gaz pricing question will stay on the table for a long time.
Of course, the Forum had a sessions on Ukrainian internal politics as well, emphasis on Tymoshenko case and upcoming elections. Discussion on Tymoshenko was heated and emotional. This case will also stay on the table. No surprises.
What does Ukraine need to be better prepared for future, to be able to be successful? From Gordon Brown’s presentation I would conclude that it means education, education, education, and innovations. And a common defined goal where to go, as Mr. Kwasniewski concluded.