Independent experts as part of selection committees that select and vet officials for Ukraine’s judiciary and anti-corruption institutions will achieve changes that will be the most fundamental renewal of Ukraine’s judiciary since independence, the U.S. Embassy and EU delegation to Ukraine said.
“The involvement of independent experts is in compliance with international standards: their crucial role is temporary and justified by the extraordinary circumstances presented by the opportunity Ukraine now has to take a decisive step toward its destiny as a modern European nation,” a joint statement by the U.S. Embassy and the Delegation of the European Union posted on the website of the U.S. Embassy on Wednesday reads.
According to the diplomats, to seize that destiny, “we, as friends of Ukraine, stand with Ukraine’s leaders and ask them to act with political courage.” “As they consider the future, we urge them to think back upon the desires of the Ukrainian people. It is reform they demanded during the Revolution of Dignity and voted for, over and over again, in elections. It is now up to Ukraine’s leaders to make good on their promises. When they do so, there is no doubt but that the Ukrainian people will thank them,” it says.
The U.S. Embassy and the Delegation of the European Union believe that one critical prerequisite for the success of these reforms is the role independent experts, nominated by international partners of Ukraine, in the commissions that select and vet the individuals who serve in Ukraine’s judiciary and anti-corruption institutions — bodies that have enormous power to shape the future of Ukraine.
“It is a future where the country either remains beholden to the powerful interests who use their resources to protect themselves from justice or where all are entitled to equal protection before the law. Because these commissions will ensure that candidates with the highest professional competence and integrity will be selected as Ukraine’s future judges, Special Anti-Corruption Prosecutor, and NABU Director – those who will hold the corrupt to account – they have an important role in shaping Ukraine’s destiny,” the statement reads.
It is noted that for the same reason, the role of independent experts has become one of the most important issues in discussions about the future of the reform agenda in Ukraine.
“Independent experts threaten those who benefit from the current system and seek to retain control over the levers of power in Ukraine. Ukraine has proven that this is a successful reform model to ensure that a commission serves the Ukrainian people, and not the vested interests that seek to control it. The ongoing competition for the SAPO leadership serves as proof that independent experts’ decisive role in the selection process is critical to ensure that decisions are merit-based and not politically-motivated,” it says.
It is also noted that he Venice Commission clearly stated that giving the international members a prevailing vote in case of a tie after a repeat vote is acceptable from the viewpoint of national sovereignty, given that final decisions remain with the appointing body.
“The current draft laws, including on the High Qualification Commission of Judges, that are now in parliament need to be aligned with the Venice Commission opinion before their second and final reading,” the U.S. Embassy and the Delegation of the European Union stated.
Concorde Capital investment company expects the Ukrainian economy to grow by 4.1% in 2021 with inflation of 8% and an average annual rate of UAH 27.60/$1, according to the company’s updated macroeconomic forecast publon Tuesday.
According to the forecast, at the end of the year the exchange rate will be about UAH 28.20/$1, the current account balance will remain positive – $0.5 billion and reserves will grow to $30.5 billion.
Concorde Capital estimates that GDP fell by 2.7% in the first quarter.
The company also said that the revaluation of the hryvnia stopped due to the increased risk of renewed military aggression, and the same risk led to a further weakening of nonresidents’ interest in the Ukrainian debt market.
Concorde Capital estimates the total need of the state budget for financing at $11.8 billion, of which $4.4 billion will be raised in the domestic market via government bonds, $1.8-4.6 billion from international financial institutions, which forces the country to look for another $5.5-2.8 billion elsewhere.
The company said that as of April 19, net attraction in the government bond market amounted to only UAH 6 billion, although last year the result was even worse – minus UAH 3 billion.
Concorde Capital expects growth to slow down to 3.5% next year, while inflation will drop to 5.5%.
Illegal possession of weapons, anonymous reports of bomb threats, threats to the life of public people are the most frequent manifestations of extremism in Ukraine, according to the results of a study conducted by the Ukrainian Politics Foundation/UP Foundation.
At a press conference at the Interfax-Ukraine agency on Friday, head of the Ukrainian Politics Foundation/UP Foundation, political experts Kostiantyn Bondarenko noted that there is no legal concept of “extremism” in Ukraine, there is no law that would provide for the fight against extremism, and some of its manifestations, such as terrorism, are prosecuted by law.
According to him, despite the fact that Ukraine does not have such a level of extremism as in the Middle East or Europe, manifestations of ethno-nationalist extremism are not isolated.
“We are talking about the need to prevent severe manifestations of extremism. In order not to be late, we believe that already now it is necessary to do a number of studies, develop a methodological and legislative basis for combating extremism, so that in the future it does not become the most important problem for Ukraine,” Bondarenko emphasized.
In turn, Lev Bondarenko, executive director of the Ukrainian Politics Foundation, UP Foundation, published the results of a study on manifestations of extremism in Ukraine. The study was conducted from December 2019 to November 2020 by monitoring media reports throughout Ukraine, based on ten key criteria that fall under the manifestation of extremism.
“As for the overall results for the year, the following picture has developed: most of all manifestations of extremism were recorded according to the criterion of ‘illegal possession, manufacture and distribution of weapons’ – 746 such cases … The second place is occupied with attempts to prepare terrorist acts, mining of buildings, all statements that we hear about mined premises … there have been 567 of them this year. The third place is taken by the threat to the lives of civil servants, politicians, journalists, public figures … someone have their cars blown up, someone is threatened by force, someone is kidnapped,” he said.
Also, according to Bondarenko, over the past year there have been 14 cases of attempts to seize power and government agencies.
In terms of the number of cases of extremism, Kyiv, Odesa and Dnipropetrovsk regions are “in the lead” in the regional scope.
“Basically in Ukraine, right-wing radical groups are associated with extremism. To a certain extent, this corresponds to reality … Despite the fact that these groups and political structures have combat experience, in our opinion (and this is confirmed by law enforcement agencies), they are not ready to introduce forceful methods of struggle,” head of projects of the Foundation Ukrainian Politics/UP Foundation Oleh Vytiahov said.
“The fight against extremism is being conducted chaotically in Ukraine … Certain crimes that carry extremist signs are attributed to the jurisdiction of various law enforcement agencies … We propose … to systematically work to create a state program to counter extremism. In addition to the right-wing radical, there is also the left-radical extremism,” he stressed.
“It is necessary to define what extremism is within the framework of the legislative field of Ukraine … Then we will be able to develop a law on countering extremism.”
An expert survey, titled “100 days of President Volodymyr Zelensky,” conducted from August 19 to August 26 by Ilko Kucheriv Democratic Initiatives Foundation Fund was presented in Kyiv on Wednesday. Some 51 experts were included in the study. They said Zelensky’s main success in the first 100 days was the dissolution of the parliament and the further success of the Servant of the People Party in early parliamentary elections, which allowed the formation of a one-party majority.
Experts also noted the president’s foreign policy efforts: first foreign trips, establishing contacts with leaders of the EU countries, Canada, a planned meeting with U.S. President Donald Trump.
Among the successes, Zelensky’s initiatives on the peace process in Donbas are also mentioned, along with activation of the Minsk process, efforts to conduct negotiations in the “Normandy format,” the issue of prisoner exchange.
To the president’s failures, experts attribute individual staff appointments and appointments to government posts on the basis of personal acquaintance and loyalty, rather than professionalism. The same applies to the inclusion of people with an ambiguous reputation in the Servant of the People Party list.
Experts also note foreign policy failures – in particular, the lack of efforts to counteract the return of Russia to Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe and the lack of initiative to tighten sanctions against Russia for not fulfilling the decision to release Ukrainian sailors and issuing passports in occupied Donbas.
Zelensky’s style of behavior during public meetings in the regions and the ineffectiveness of the ceasefire in Donbas was already regarded as a failure.
Experts believe that Zelensky’s main task is to confront Russian aggression by all diplomatic methods, including strengthening sanctions against Russia, preserving the “anti-Putin” coalition for the liberation of Donbas and Crimea, as well as Ukrainian political prisoners and captives.
For comparison, experts gave President Petro Poroshenko 6.3 points for his first 100 days, with his predecessor Viktor Yanukovych receiving 2.7 points. Yanukovych fled to Russia in early 2014.
It is unlikely that the presidential and parliamentary elections to be held this year would affect the speed of the implementation of reforms in Ukraine, according to most participants of the CFA Society Ukraine Investment Forum held in Kyiv on Friday, March 15.
According to its express poll, 58.33% of the audience backed the above opinion and 62.944% confirmed it during the repeated voting after the information panel.
However, 15.74% and 21.68% of the participants during the repeated voting said that the reforms would accelerate. Some 17.59% (11.91%) and 8.33% (4.2%) respectively expected that the reform would slow down and would be backtracked.
According to Economist of Morgan Stanley investment bank Alina Sliusarchuk, judicial reform is currently the key reform for Ukraine.
“The first question that investors usually ask me is not about the labor market or even about the war in the east of the country. It concerns the fight against corruption, judicial reform, the presence of structural changes. That is, this is the most important issue,” she said at the forum.
Chief Economist at the Dragon Capital investment group Olena Belan said that the intentions and aspirations of the new authorities would very quickly manifest themselves in the macroeconomic situation.
“Regardless of who will be elected, if the new government continues cooperating with the International Monetary Fund, adhering to the correct policy, rather than making populist decisions, there is a potential for reducing the key policy rate by 2 or 3 percentage points,” she said.
Executive Director of Blazer International Foundation Oleh Ustenko has the same opinion. He said that the success of the new government will directly depend on whether they are based on expert opinion.
“I am sure that in Ukraine the situation will really improve if each of the existing candidates who intends to lead the country will follow the instructions prepared by the experts. Of course, the person who is elected to this position is important, but society and international partners are unlikely to allow future head of state to significantly deviate from the course of reform,” he said.
About 300 financial and investment experts took part in the ninth CFA Society Ukraine Investment Forum.
The delegation of the National Democratic Institute (U.S.) and deputies of the European Parliament have prepared 51 recommendations to get ready for the 2019 elections in Ukraine, in particular, they recommended Facebook opening an office in Kyiv, regional director of programs of the Eurasian region at the National Democratic Institute Laura Jewett has said.
Facebook should open an office in Ukraine and, together with other digital platforms, unite to fight disinformation … If we are talking about fighting Kremlin interference to ensure stability in the country, then social networks and digital platforms should help Ukraine in these aspirations. All candidates must have equal access to the media. You also need to combat with the negative impact of misinformation. It is necessary to make efforts to combat manifestations of political corruption, including falsification, and to monitor the financing of parties, she said at a press conference in Kyiv on Saturday.
According to Jewett, it is also necessary to adhere to the equal gender representation of women and men.
Candidates’ campaigns should rest on constructive proposals, be aimed at unification, and the media should note that this is political advertising, not information, she explained.
In turn, MEP Dariusz Rosati noted the intensification of misinformation in Ukraine.
Our recommendations are aimed at encouraging the Ukrainian authorities to adopt key reforms in the electoral legislation and beyond, which will help ensure that the elections are fair and transparent, he explained.
MEP Rebecca Harms clarified that the need to introduce a proportional electoral system instead of a mixed one had been discussed at a meeting with Ukrainian Parliament Speaker Andriy Parubiy.
After the meeting with the CEC (Central Electoral Commission) we recommended the parliament include internally displaced persons and labor migrants in the electoral process, she added.
In addition, the delegation recommended that resources be provided to the CEC for updating technical tools to combat cyber attacks.