Making it seem achievable – UkraineApril 13, 2014
Over the past few weeks I have met with a great many Ukraine based senior diplomats passing through Odessa trying to get a feel for how stable things are and the general mood of the city – that, and my thoughts upon the local politics and mayoral elections, who owns whom, who is siding with whom and why, likely outcomes locally etc – not to mention the presidential elections and support – or not – for any candidates and what will follow.
Quite rightly too.
Whilst it has taken the Ukrainian leadership weeks to visit eastern Ukraine despite a desperate need to do so far earlier than this week, the western diplomatic corps have been doing a tour of the nation taking part in round tables, television interviews, local government meetings – and liaising with people like me in far less public arenas to empty our heads both as to the realities on the ground, and to collect, collate and evaluate information and suggestions of how to progress and promote the democratic path forward.
In short they are doing what their respective governments expect and pay them to do.
Naturally I am not going to identify the “who” and “when” or even specifically “what” has been said – some of it is rather sensitive and needless to say all of it strictly off the record.
However amongst this rather large number, I have not met anybody from the EU Delegation to Ukraine. They have all been diplomats from sovereign nations.
Now I will be the first to admit, when it comes to numbers, the combined diplomatic army of the sovereign nations in Ukraine far outstrips the number of diplomats directly on the EU payroll – but nevertheless, sovereign diplomats are not necessarily a collective army when it comes to matter Ukrainian. Common interests and goals there may be – or not – but they are working first and foremost in the interests of their sovereign employers as we would all expect.
Thus I will make this entry one that centres around a common issue I raised with them all, and one that none are individually responsible for answering – that responsibility laying with the EU Delegation to Ukraine and/or the current interim government. To my mind the responsibility resides with both.
One point (of many) I have repeatedly raised – and will continue to raise with whichever diplomat contacts me next – is that of attainment vis a vis desires.
For those that are looking westward and desire greater integration, it is surely time to show just how attainable that actually is – in practical and tangible everyday ways.
One example I gave was that of trade and Ukrainian products that already meet EU standards.
Somewhere between 20 – 30% of Ukrainian products already meet, and another 10% or so with simple changes to things like packaging, would meet, EU standards (not to mention ISOs).
Thus EU standards are not only achievable but have already been achieved by certain producers big and small across several market sectors – and yet nobody has produced a consolidated list that publicises what has already been achieved and is easily identifiable to a Ukrainian public that also buys those products.
Would it not show quite clearly that European integration is not a pipe dream, but is something not only achievable, it is actually underway in practical and tangible terms?
Is it not an easy public relations win, psychologically fortifying for the believers, irrefutable for the detractors, and also cheap to do?
Considering the tens of thousands of spam commercial comments this blog gets advertising all and sundry each and every year – why, in all the years it has been running, has there never once been a comment offering/advertising a method of attaining EU standards?
Is there a campaign or programme to help Ukrainian businesses over the compliance line? If there is I would happily write an entry about in Russian (my Ukrainian is not good enough) to raise its profile and direct Ukrainian business appropriately.
If it is policy to talk the talk in an effort to make Ukraine walk the walk – why is it that those that can be held up as examples of success with regard European integration/standardisation aren’t?
I have to say, nobody could give me an answer to that, despite all considering it a valid public relations theme.
Perhaps if I say it often enough, and if it is repeated enough by the sovereign diplomats to the EU diplomats, eventually something will be done to make the Ukrainian public aware that they are not at the very start of a long process, but actually they are already on the way – and have been for some time.