Many, many times in this blog I have commented critically of the current and past Ukrainian governments and their inability or unwillingness to clearly and concisely communicate to the general public what they are doing and why they are taking the decisions they are when faced with often difficult choices.
Some politicians are better than others at doing it to be fair.
Many times I have mentioned the Polish example of the Balcerowicza Plan that was extensively communicated to the Polish people prior to and at the beginning of the implementation of such a radical reform process at the time.
I read with interested a statement by Prime Minster Azarov a few days days which stated “I insist that the government, each minister, and the heads of government agencies have such systemic dialogues with the public, as by using formal reports on meetings of social councils and participating in political talk we will not build a bridge of solidarity to reform the country.
The absence of a clear explanatory position of ministers of a certain state institution will be considered a serious oversight,”
Quite right too, but that is not quite enough in a time when many reforms, be they necessary and/or unpopular, are being pulled in a seemingly ad hoc fashion from the governmental magicians hat.
Revealing one piece of a puzzle at a time with the public having very little idea as to why or how it is being revealed and how it fits together with other pieces is hardly effective engagement or enlightening. For some there will be a major disconnect between pension reform and government procurement reforms and yet like all policy matters, even if they do not seem to be connected, they are, often on many levels that are not immediately obvious.
It is quite simply not enough to say “reform x” will take Ukraine towards EU norms. Why is it the EU norm? Why did 27 nations come to a consensus of agreement that this norm was the best option? How did it work out for the EU? What are the positives and what are the negatives to complying with the EU norms as a society in the short, medium and long term?
There are very few Ukrainian politicians who speak frankly and in a way that is understandable to the general public. Irena Akimova is one, Tigipko and Yatseniuk are others. The problem is that Akimova sticks to her brief of economics, Tigpko to his and Yatseniuk, whilst extremely able at pointing out what is wrong with a particular policy often does not offer up alternatives in the public domain.
The Prime Minister’s statement is right as far as it goes but it is likely to produce numerous talking heads explaining their particular piece of the puzzle alone. Rarely do you ever here one senior government minister talking about the policy areas of another or the strategies to implement that policy.
There is then the question of what spin any media outlet puts on matters if passing information via the 4th Estate. All to often the media will word things to make certain inferences good and bad, rather than reporting straight and accurate facts and allowing the readers to think for themselves.
Here are very recent examples from The Independent relating to sovereign nations carrying out actions on foreign soil over what they see as similar threats and dealt with in a similar way:
“Russian hit squad accused of murdering Chechen dissidents in Istanbul…startling evidence reveals how agent may have been sent to take out the Kremlin-backed regime’s enemies on foreign soil”
“Yemen says al-Qa’ida linked cleric Al-Awlaki killed…Anwar al-Awlaki was killed early today in a strike on his convoy carried out by a joint operation of the CIA and the US Joint Special Operations Command. Al-Awlaki had been under observations for three weeks while they waited for the right opportunity to strike.”
One is worded to justify an action in the case of the USA and another as some form of illegitimate and nefarious action allegedly by Russia.
So blatant is this attempt at psychological manipulation that it is no surprise that the disenfranchisement with politics is mirrored by a similar distrust of the MSM globally. What civil society need is accuracy and brutal honesty in factual reporting. Far too many are far too intelligent to fall for such word-craft in efforts to support an editorial line/bias.
What is really required is somebody who will explain, warts and all, why something is being done, how it fits with all the other pieces and provide a clue as to the picture the mosaic will ultimately look like. If necessary directly from the State structure to civil society avoiding journalists and their editors if the 4th Estate cannot be relied upon to simply report facts without spin or opinion.
Won’t hold my breath though, I’ve only been saying it for almost a decade here.