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Foreigners to sit in Ukrainian government?

November 29, 2014

It appears that President Poroshenko has the desire to implant – or at least have the ability to implant – foreigners within the Ukrainian civil service, within government, and indeed within the Cabinet of Ministers itself.

“My idea is to introduce amendments to laws to provide the right to involve foreigners in civil service, right up to membership in the government, or to expand the list of persons to whom the Ukrainian president may grant Ukrainian citizenship under an expedited procedure.  Decisive steps by foreigners who will be ready to give up their own nationality and accept Ukrainian nationality will be a confirmation of the decisiveness of intentions of our potential partners and candidates.”

Perhaps the logic behind that is fairly clear.  For example, why not have somebody foreign and entirely untainted by Ukrainian corruption become the head of the National Anti-Corruption Bureau after all?

What could possibly go wrong?

The fact that the President expects a foreign national to surrender their own nationality in exchange for Ukrainian nationality, for what could be no more than a 5 year job – perhaps less – is not a little “hopeful” for the official salary of a Ukrainian civil servant?

Are they are to be offered more than a Ukrainian civil servant to make changing their nationality worthwhile?

The existing practice of appointing foreigners as “advisors to whomever/whatever” no longer will suffice?

Is there is a lengthy queue of suitable foreigners with EU or US passports willing to drop their nationality and exchange it for the current limitations on Visa-free travel for Ukrainian passport holders?

How would the generous national pensions of these foreign. top notch policymakers/implementors  earned through many years of service to their nation, be effected by voluntarily revoking their own citizenship to become Ukrainian for a (officially) poorly paid civil service role that may not even last a full electoral term should those who appointed them leave office prematurely (one way or another)?

Perhaps these “foreign experts” will come from nations that are similar to Ukraine by way of pensions, strengths of passport and civil service salaries?  Georgian, Russian, Belorussian, Armenian or, Moldavian policymakers/implementors?

What to make of a senior policymaker/implementor who would agree to surrender their own nationality and assume that of Ukraine, to take up what could be a very short term job, for low civil service pay?  A spy?  A person deprived of their senses? Somebody who will accept a pittance by way of remuneration in the hope of making a nefarious fortune on the side?  An egotist that needs to be in the public eye – regardless of the nationality of that public?  Those who have fallen out with their national leadership and seek sanctuary in Ukraine?  Somebody genuinely driven to make a difference and who cares more about Ukraine than retaining their own nationality – prepared to potentially suffer political costs in their nations of birth in doing so?

It is perhaps not a question of commitment to any new office held in Ukraine – but one of underlying motivation for those that accept.

Do all positions within the civil service require the office holder to be Ukrainian?  For example, is there a need for the head of the supposedly independent National Anti-Corruption Bureau to be Ukrainian?  If so, why?  The current head of the Bank of England is a Canadian – subjectively, a far more sensitive and policy forming/government influencing role.

If the law changes, what then when the Poroshenko epoch has passed?  If those who have very different views to the current government regarding the national direction accede to power and decide to appoint half the Kremlin inner circle – or that of China – or Hungary etc, this is an acceptable outcome in the future?

What happens when the first scandal surfaces of those who didn’t really surrender their nationalities before assuming that of Ukraine – thus being in contravention to the legislation of Ukraine that bans dual citizenship?  Having been deliberately implanted within the top policymaking echelons by the Ukrainian elite, who resigns along with the guilty party?

Is dual citizenship the answer?  Would such a move be more negative than positive when it came to election day with regard to changing the national direction and voter dynamics?  How much of any Ukrainian diaspora would emerge with eastern looking views, vis a vis western voting views?  A can of worms worthy of opening simply to accommodate a handful of foreign policymakers/implementors?  Probably not.

So who and how many will be approached, and who would accept, given the requirement to become exclusively a Ukrainian citizen?  Kwaśniewski? – Doutful.  Adeishvili? – Possibly.  Who else with genuine reforming and reform implementing experience?

Rumour has it that 5 or 6 “foreigners”, if they can be called that after assuming Ukrainian citizenship, have been approached.  How accepting of the implanting of “foreigners” in positions of power will the Ukrainian constituency be?  How many potential candidates will go the distance?

On balance, a wise policy when foreigners can already act as “advisors”?

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