Archive for April 8th, 2011

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Human Rights & Democracy – UK FCO 2010 Report

April 8, 2011

Well dear readers, if you have a few hours to spare, here is an interesting read.  The UK Foreign & Commonwealth  Office Report 2010 relating to human rights and democracy.

Having not given it the due time it deserves (yet), there seem to be only a few mentions of Ukraine.  Pages 11, 13 and 108 specifically, unless I missed any, and I am sure you will let me know if I have.

For anything within you disagree with, please remember I am not the author.  Drop William Hague an email yourselves if you wish to contest any of the contents.

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The President’s speech

April 8, 2011

Well as I said yesterday, I would have a look through the Presidential speech delivered by President Yanukovych to the RADA and Ukraine yesterday.

It was long…….much longer than I anticipated.  40 minutes!

Whoever wrote that speech will have spent hours writing it as anybody who has ever written a speech will know.  Every word carefully selected and crafted into sentences full of power, energy and direction, without any possible ambiguity (unless desired for some reason).

It was somewhere between a Vision/Mission Statement and a critique of the last year.  Short on strategy but then that is not the purpose of such a speech.  Such speeches are always about where we were, where we are now and where we need to go.

Strategic speeches on how it will be achieved can require at least some technical knowledge in any receiving audience to be understood, so there is little point in going into the technicalities of domestic and international agreement wordings with 46 million people, most of whom do not even pretend to know the background rules and regulations any strategy is working against/towards or with.  All they care about are the benefits it has for them in the direction they are being taken – Vision/Mission.

When it comes to explaining strategy to the nation, that is the role of government ministers and indeed something where this government, like all those before them, could greatly improve.   More so this government as they actually seem to have a plan and reforms they want to carry out rather than just drift with the tide like those before…….and changes need to be explained.

40 minutes too long?  Probably.  In a ten minute speech you would expect any engaged audience to remember at most 2 things a week later.  With the aid of the press, you can expect some of the public to remember 8 – 10 key points from this speech next week…..possibly.

The first will undoubtedly be that Ukraine and Ukrainians should stop feeling sorry for themselves and project some form of pride/positive image about themselves and their nation despite the faults it may have.  – Quite right!  There is a place for patriotism in every national identity and it is an intangible driver to the health of a nation…..unless it becomes nationalism when it becomes a cancerous growth.

The second was an admission that the current government has done OK but has achieved nothing like what was expected even allowing for external influences.  One of those “could do better if they applied themselves” school reports we all received at some point. – Also quite true, however more haste and less speed when dealing with fundamental reforms would prevent having to go back to recently passed legislation such as the Tax Code and Electoral Code with amendments.

It maybe the existing Codes didn’t even provide a platform to reform, so the speed was necessary and the amendments will be made in haste.  If that is so, then say so.

The EU DCFTA and AA remain priorities for this year.  The speech was a defacto refusal of the Russian led Customs Union (despite the $8 billion sweetener on offer from Gazprom per year over gas pricing).  Instead a 3+1 solution was proposed, effectively meaning a FTA with the Customs Union as well – but not full membership of it.

Fourthly, in line with PACE, domestic priorities are rule of law, democracy and elections reform, education, health care and the usual European priorities regardless of how developed a nation is. – Hardly something that can be ignored when you assume the presidency of PACE next month.

Non-aligned status was reaffirmed as the foundation of both domestic and foreign policy.

Agricultural land reforms a must, is the sixth on the list, although it would be a very optimistic person who expects that to happen until 2012/13 at the earliest.  Quite possible in the president’s first term of office though.

Possibly the most controversial statement, although in keeping with the non-alignment of Ukraine, was the welcoming of dialogue between Russia and NATO over a joint missile shield for Europe and Ukraine’s willingness to be involved if both sides come to an agreement.

The recognition of the potential of Ukraine’s youth and level of education was a welcome inclusion although how it will be channeled into areas that will drive Ukraine forward in the future remains to be seen.  A little strategy, no matter how broad, would have been welcomed here I think.

To be fair there were other less obvious points within his 40 minute speech but they will already be forgotten by tomorrow.  There are issues within the speech that we can expect tangible results to be seen before his next annual address and there are others which are certainly a fair way down the road.

As a Vision statement and critique speech, it was generally OK……if not delivered with the intensity and passion Ms Tymoshenko has when speaking, it was at least delivered in a manner that suggested all those boring words like routine, method, logic, inevitability and stability.

Do I think he is personally committed to what he said? – Yes I think so.

Do I think he can make it all happen, let alone in a way that he considers timely? – No….at least not all of it.

What will be interesting is what and how much of it he can make happen, as some of those things, tangible and intangible, are dependent upon external factors both East and West.

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