Regular readers will have noticed that yesterday there was no entry.
The reason for this was a meeting with some members of the western diplomatic community regarding the state of affairs in Ukraine (and Odessa) – particularly the present, and the immediate future.
Being a Chatham House Member, naturally the Chatham House Rule applies – Further, only the generalities of some of the subjects discussed will be retold. This blog holds dear the relationships it has with both the domestic and foreign political and diplomatic establishment, and thus nothing that will jeopardise such relationships will ever be disclosed.
Disclaimers made, on to a few issues pondered.
The fact that most of the Ukrainian constituency, aside from awareness of the Hryvnia/US$ rate, seem somewhat unaware of the dire economic situation Ukraine finds itself in was agreed.
The fractious composition of the new coalition was also noted. That almost one month after the RADA elections neither the newly elected deputies, nor an end to politicking within the new coalition, have started work cannot be ignored. The clock is ticking and little is being done of note in the public realm. That is not to mention what appears to be an already antagonistic relationship between some within the Presidential Administration and proposed government.
That President Poroshenko is clearly overstepping his constitutional parameters and meddling in the constitutionally defined playground of the RADA/Cabinet of Ministers is clear. Whether he will step back when the new RADA eventually swears its oath and begins work remains to be seen.
Concerns about the hollowing out of civil society and the media as the better known enter the RADA as MPs were muted.
Locally, the fact the current Odessa Governor Igor Palitsia, and Chairman of the Regional Council Alexiy Goncharenko (both Block Poroshenko) become MPs when the new RADA sits, leaving an organised criminal for a Mayor, and a possible replacement for Goncharenko, his current council Deputy Chairman, a bought and paid for Andriy Klyuyev drone, are a concern – the new Chair of the Regional Council, an issue to be resolved this afternoon. Whomever the new Governor will be, will need to spend a significant amount of political energy trying to keep any reform agenda and implementation alive against the willing obstructionism that the Mayor, and possibly the new Regional Council Chairman, will surely robustly present. All rather grim when adding to that mix, many of the infamous returned single mandate seat MPs for Odessa, such as Sergei Kivalov, Anton Cisse etc. A toxic concoction.
The fact that Odessa has almost 30 consulates – both “eastern” and “western” nations – be the fully-fledged consulates (most are) or honorary consuls (Germany, Austria etc), and none engage with the media, civil society or the public regularly if at all, also raised. A large local diplomatic presence – no local diplomatic interaction outside consular premises.
So far, so patently obvious to those who follow these things even remotely closely – whether that be nationally or locally to Odessa. So far, also, a clear statement that the foreign diplomatic corps “get it” regarding Ukraine – even if their capitals don’t, choose not to, or fail to heed the detailed reports that continuously flow, that they are provided.
In short, the consensus was the first 90 days of any new RADA and Cabinet of Ministers needs to deliver reform legislation and its robust and uncompromising implementation. Whilst recognising that some reforms can be felt by society immediately, such as tax reforms, others simply do take time to work through the system. The latter, of course, are likely to be those that meander, stray, lose momentum, and eventually result in no change. Needless to say, the ability to effectively implement any reforms was of more concern than that of the ability to draft and pass the legislation creating the reforms. It brought about a discussion of benchmarks, measurement, transparency and all those policy issues where Ukraine consistently fails.
The ability to actually implement reforms effectively will have a direct repercussions on inward investment. And inward investment for Ukraine there will be. Of that the discussion left little room for doubt – if Ukraine is seen to begin systematically delivering and implementing reform.
As such, one of the very first public and international tests Ukraine will face will be the national G3 tender and licensing, due to take place in January 2015.
Quite simply – Ukraine has to get it right!
Whether Ukraine is aware of it or not – there is a lot of corporate and private FDI watching the G3 tender very closely indeed. In fact, it cannot be typed in bold or underlined heavily enough. There can be no cock-ups with the G3 tender and licensing by Ukraine.
If it gets it wrong, or it is thought to be even slightly “smelly”, it is one of the (early) indicators that will have a notable impact on corporate/private inward investment. It will certainly be a significant nail – although not the final nail – in the inward investment coffin for Ukraine.
If it goes as it should, however, from the discussion, there is quite clearly some solid and significant interest in Ukraine – despite the current situation in the east.
Naturally, not only the international/foreign national corporations/private investors are looking closely at the G3 tender – or it would not have been agreed as a significant event amongst those present from the various nations during the discussion with this blog. The western political and diplomatic classes are also looking for clear signs of a perfect execution of this tender and licensing too.
Ergo, dear readers, keep a very watchful eye upon the events surrounding the G3 tender and licensing – for it has far greater implications for Ukraine than any communications (and security) issue.
As for the shameless plug mentioned in the title?
At the end of August a request to write a short essay for inclusion in the annual publication that is the “Eastern Europe, Russia & Central Asia (2015 Edition)” – Routledge, was received and duly submitted in double quick time – and thus subsequently forgotten about, until yesterday, when an email arrived stating it had gone to print. Blimey!
Proof that this blog is capable of more than mere poorly assembled ramblings, and can turn out academic prose when necessary perhaps.
Anyway, as Christmas is coming and with all readers being erudite and enlightened, thus wanting to purchase something worthy of a read over the festive season and beyond, do try find yourself a copy – though it be a rather pricey tome. Alternatively, for website members, the same essay can be found at the Europa World, imaginatively titled, “The Separatists Movements In Eastern Ukraine And Their Association With Russian State Structures” – and that association is far more interesting than it may seem.
End of shameless plug.