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The first conclave of the International Advisory Council – Ukraine

March 20, 2016

On 17th December 2015, an entry appeared relating to the creation of “and let’s be blunt it is simply “another” – reform body” called the International Advisory Group.  This new group was created to replace a previous International Reform Council President Poroshenko had created on 13th February 2015.

To be precise, the now defunct International Reform Council was born by Presidential Decree on 13th February 2015 and died by Presidential Decree on 16th December 2015.  A life span of 10 months and 3 days.

16th December 2015 also saw the birth of the International Advisory Council – the first conclave of which gathered on 19th March 2016.

As strongly inferred in the above link, of those it was claimed had been invited to join this council of the internationally reform orientated enlightened, some had no knowledge of the fact they had indeed been invited at the time that entry was written.

IRC

Judging by the well known faces in the photograph of those attending the inaugural conclave, clearly the original line-up announced is not represented (which comes as no surprise).  Nevertheless, regardless of the line up, be it this or that originally announced, the least genuinely reformed orientated person in any photograph would be the man who’s Decree gathered all together – The President of Ukraine.

So what tangible results can be expected from the latest reincarnation of what many perceive as little more than a PR exercise?

The original Presidental Decree when creating the latest “international reform body” stated that the newly created International Advisory Council is entitled to relevant and/or necessary documents and materials from central and local executive bodies, and State institutions, organisations and enterprises.  The Advisory Council may create working groups and/or expert committees – thus implying direct communication with the bodies from which it may draw (or perhaps drag) information from without specific prior consent of the President.

As stated in the aforementioned entry the perception will be that  – “It is a body to create more talking that has the power to instigate, for example an (or numerous) inter-departmental committee (or whatever), to ask for papers, to hold meetings, to propose, to discuss, to report back, to revise, to redraft – in order to hold more meetings, make more proposals, have more discussions, report back once more, revise the revisions and redraft yet again – the usual governmental stalling processes via the misuse of bureaucratic functions and obstructionism under the guise of creating a body to make whatever it takes to look to be doing something without actually doing anything – like reforming.”

This blog has the greatest respect for the vast majority of those attending the first conclave of the latest incarnation by Presidential Decree.  There are some extremely sharp minds, deft practitioners, and very experienced reformers – yet neither they, this blog, nor anybody with even a modicum of intelligence will believe that the President or his administration, nor the Cabinet of Ministers, nor the Ukrainian military, nor the Ukrainian civil service, have in any way whatsoever been deprived of the very best reform advice – both by way of policy and implementation – that the western world has to offer for the past 2 years (and will continue to offer).

In fact some of that very sage advise has come from these same people.

Yet to varying degrees that advice has largely ignored, delayed, watered down, put on hold, tinkered with beyond recognition, or when accepted has been given an official implementation date somewhere over the political horizon.  That is not to deny what has been done, but it is to highlight what could have been accomplish but simply hasn’t been for want of lack of will or because of deliberate obstruction and political subterfuge – oft by those very closely associated with President Poroshenko.

Thus these enlightened people, for the sake of Ukraine and its constituents, are hopefully wise enough not to allow themselves to be used as a tool, ad infinitum, for further delays in tackling the many prickly and painful decisions that can no longer be avoided.  In short, more reform, less talk.

There will be no uplift in political popularity for President, Cabinet, or parliament as and when the Visa-free agreement with Schengen comes into effect.  The setting aside of a few Euro in fees and the tedium of Visa applications is not going to change the opinions or voting outcomes of the Ukrainian constituency – only real, tangible, effectively implemented, on-going domestic reform will do that.   Indeed Visa-free, if it manifests in more Ukrainian tourists visiting the Schengen nations (and that remains to be seen), is likely to increase the demands for effectively implemented reform prior to any scheduled elections rather than buy any political time to prolong the current rent seeking among the political elite.

A reader may ponder perhaps what such accomplished, enlightened, experienced reform orientated policy people can advise President Poroshenko after having received several years of the best possible advice already – other than “Get on with it!”

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