Has Ukraine managed to make use of the chance for modernization to the full? Most of experts and parties (of various colors and cadencies) have interpreted both the economic crisis and the UEFA European Football Championship in these terms. Euro-2012 is a chance to improve our image, make the world know us, raise the tourism potential, a chance to build the European infrastructure, good roads, stadiums, airports; this is a chance to feel as being part of the European family and show this.
Noted economist, head of the Economic Development Center Oleksandr Paskhaver is sure that we have failed to do so. In his opinion, under the conditions of the current level of understanding between the power and the people “praying football gods” won’t produce any result. He believes that there is no economic recovery or improving of Ukrainians’ welfare because of an elementary thing, an abyss of interests. However, in certain cases, as Paskhaver underlined in a TV Channel 5 show, the power’s selfish interests coincide with those of the country. “But this is a temporary thing,” he emphasized in an interview to The Day.
You have recently mentioned that the selfish interests of the power have in one issue coincided with the interests of ordinary Ukrainians? Where can we see this and what is the reason?
“Even a broken clock shows the correct time twice a day. Such things often happen in politics before the parliamentary elections. Who can be against increase of pensions and wages? These are standard means of the pre-election policy of the government. But does it mean that the budgetary funds have been used efficiently? No.”
So, what is happening now cannot be called a breakthrough or a quality improvement in social policy?
“Apparently, two years after gaining power, the government has not yet learned to lead a social dialogue. They are managers who have gotten used to resolve big economic tasks. But on the governmental level there are no purely economic tasks. They are all social. The implementation of reforms in the sphere of legalizing wages, pension and healthcare spheres showed that social effects have been underestimated. Insensibility to social aspects leads to failures. Whatever they were involved in, they still became coated with protests like fish with scales. It is time to think it over. The tradition of disrespecting personality lies in the groundwork of this technocratic approach. Social miserable pittances instead of rational social strategy fall in this tradition. You know, I was impressed by the expression of one of the reformers concerning the Tax Code: it is the same as asking prisoners for advice concerning the conditions of their keeping in prison. In my opinion, prisoners are people, too, and their opinion is needed. This kind of statements is caused by lack of social intuition.”
How would you assess the reform process in Ukraine?
“There is active bureaucratic activity around the reforms. But they are failing with implementation of systemic reforms leading to rule of law, protection of property right and other rights of a personality, demonopolization, equal opportunities, and competition in all spheres of social life. Apparently, the problem is not about the change of ministers, but in the paralyzing contradictions of public and hidden goals of the power politics. It is not possible to implement systemic reforms and make money on power at the same time.”
You have said that current economic and social problem take root in disrespect of personality. How come that within the 20 years of independence no respect for the personality has emerged?
“This is not a long term for the traditions, which have been established by history. Even self-respect is a rare phenomenon in Ukraine these days. We can also mention here the respect to statehood and law. The general guilt and selective law enforcement was a powerful tool of the Soviet power, and it has been preserved by our ‘democracy.’”
But the new generation has come.
“A new generation will come to power, when people, who were not deformed by the Soviet pressure, will turn 40-50 years. Then the changes might come. The development of civil society, urged by the development of freedom on the Internet, is favorable for this. Freedom is getting more and more difficult to strangle. We can see its first sprouts – the websites seeking to control the power. Also a gratifying fact is to see people spontaneously defend the individual interests of others. This is a positive development and it makes one hopeful about the bright future of Ukraine and indicates the growth of sprouts of the civic society. However, the future as a rule does not promise an easier life, just a change of problems.”
Will they be strong enough, for practically nothing has changed in the past 20 years?
“I don’t know. Ukraine has not passed an exam for sovereignty and efficiency of the state. Will we be able to pass it in the future? Will the development of society outrun the negative tendencies? History will show.”
So, it turns out that all Ukrainian governments have worked without a diploma?
“Every power has its own peculiarities. Judging from publications in the press, the peculiarity of the current power is creation of a system of the beholders parallel to the formal system of governmental management. This is a new technology for the new governmental power. Previously public and shadow functions were realized by the same official statesmen. But if there is any truth in this kind of messages, this is nothing but criminalization of the governmental power. Maybe, a rapid growth of the civil control structures is a reaction to the new technologies of power?”
How efficiently has Ukraine used the after-crisis period as a stimulus for systemic modernization of economy?
“The after-crisis period did not become an impetus for a large-scale modernization of the country. Our level of technologies is same low, as well as raw material export orientation, low work efficiency. In the third year of restoration growth the parameters which existed before the crisis have not been achieved and it seems that stagnation has begun. This is terrifying, because after such a rapid fall a restoration period would have been natural, but nothing of this kind is taking place. The unfavorable external factors, the slowdown of the European economy, cannot explain our domestic problems. In the background of the reforms, which have been announced, the international ratings of easy running of a business, economic freedom, corruption, etc. are getting worse. The press reports on the facts of shadow monopolization of the markets, forcible entry to business. Under these conditions no normal investor will come to work to the country, except for extracting of natural resource. But this is a totally different case. The foreign capital will immediately flow even to a country of ogres for the exploitation of natural resources.”
Do we have any of them left?
“We have turned out the ogres, but we still have the resources. Black soil, fossils of the shelf, coal, ore, and many other things, not so ‘loud.’”
Has Ukraine used all the benefits from hosting Euro-2012?
“No, and she could not have. Since the beginning it was assumed that private investors would bring the largest share of investments. But where did such plans come from? Euro-2012 is not gas or oil for one to risk one’s money. Besides, kickbacks remained and grew even higher. Under high insurance risks investors are attracted only by huge profit. Thus at the very beginning it did not make sense to expect that this gigantic project would be efficiently realized. Thank God, Euro-2012 has been realized on the whole.”
Ukraine is now trying to make its mind, what direction to follow: the EU or Customs Union. We cannot sit on two chairs. What do you think, how will the events unfold?
“I don’t know. We haven’t passed the exam for statehood. What is going to be next? Paradoxically, no kind of power can answer this question. Only each of us can. Unless we understand the clear answer, there will be no result. It is also important to understand that choosing one way or another, we cannot measure it by mere economic benefits. The choice between EU and Customs Union is a civilization choice, which will resolve what Ukrainians and our further history will be and whether there will be any. Everyone can deeply ponder history and present-day of Western Europe, get understanding about the destinies of people and imagine oneself and one’s descendants in these civilizations, which are so different.”