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Mogherini lauds the “incredible work” of the Ukrainian authorities

January 19, 2016

At the meeting of EU Foreign Ministers in Brussels on 18th January, the EU High Representative for Common Foreign Affairs and Security Policy (what little and dysfunctional EU common and security policy there actually is) Federica Mogherini, lauded the “incredible work” of the Ukrainian authorities – The EU “applauded the incredible work done by the Ukrainian authorities in recent months to implement and begin to carry out reforms.

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She may (or not) mean what she said too.

It has to be said that despite the ever critical and cynical eye this blog casts over too often substandard parliamentary legislation, the occasionally barbed tone when strategy is seen to be absent in certain areas, the lamenting of clearly ineffective or counterproductive policy, the decrying of woeful communication with the Ukrainian constituency when good policy is arrived at but not explained, and the all too slow progress with certain critical reforms – there have nevertheless been reforms.  Indeed there have been some very good reforms, albeit the best of reforms always seem to be adopted with a delayed implementation date.

Having squandered (perhaps deliberately) the “revolutionary” reform time frame, it is now necessary to recognise that the “evolutionary” reform time frame will be much slower and need to account for a recovering and coalescing group of vested interests that will now be much more difficult to contain, let alone reduce, in influence.

Though it be a tough task to prioritise Ukrainian reforms for 2016, they would all be structural – public administration/civil service, the PGO’s office and the judiciary are probably the top 3 – though that does not excuse all governmental ministries of reform progress of course.

Alternatively her comments may simply have the “between the lines” message of “no early Verkhovna Rada elections – you’re doing just about enough.”

However, of Ms Mogherini’s comments, it seems that at this particular meeting, the EU FMs are actually prioritising Ukrainian issues the right way around – We reaffirmed the full support of the implementation of the Minsk agreements.  But the first time we focused not only on Minsk, but on the process of reforms in Ukraine, particularly the reform of the judiciary, public administration, decentralization.  We recognized the incredible work that the Ukrainian authorities in recent months to advance the reform agenda of the very concrete steps.

Ms Mogherini going on to state that the EU recognized the need to “support the Ukrainian authorities to better coordinate with the EU and Member States to ensure the continuation of the reform agenda.  It is the time to bring results in very difficult conditions, – and it is the essence of our cooperation with Ukraine.”

The priority for Ukraine is structural institutional reform – whether the Minsk agreements are implemented or not.  Those structural institutional reforms will still be critical even if a “frozen conflict” results from a failed Minsk implementation – and does anybody truly believe that The Kremlin is about to allow anybody but its own anointed High Chamberlains be “elected” to run the occupied Donbas – or return the Ukrainian border to Ukrainian control in 2016 if they lost (or even if they won)?

The current Kremlin diplomatic push regarding the Minsk II agreement has far more to do with trying to get sanctions eased without delivering much more that a ceasefire and prisoner swaps, knowing once eased there will be no unity to reimpose them within the EU.

This however, seems somewhat alarming – “But the first time we focused not only on Minsk, but on the process of reforms in Ukraine”.  If that statement be true it is a very sad reflection upon the depth of discussion regarding Ukraine at all previous EU FM conclaves – and who sets the agenda at such conclaves if not Ms Mogherini as High Representative?

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