Archive for November 20th, 2017

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Ministry of Foreign Affairs to undergo a reorg – And the FISU?

November 20, 2017

Some time ago President Poroshenko let it be known he would be introducing a draft Bill for submission to the Verkhovna Rada with the intent of restructuring/reorganising both structure and process, and terms and conditions, relating to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

On 20th November that draft Bill was sent to the Verkhovna Rada.

As of the time of writing however, it does not appear upon the Verkhovna Rada website.  Ergo the intricacies and nuances – and perhaps surprises – are not yet fully available in the public domain.

What is reasonably clear, is that the draft Bill seeks to “reform the diplomatic service, bringing it to modern European and world standards, increase the prestige of the diplomatic service and attract new human resources, as well as to unify with the provisions of the law of Ukraine “On Civil Service”.” – per The Bankova.

Quite right.  Legislation relating to the MFA clearly should align with the Civil Service legislation – the staffing is made up of civil servants after all.  Ergo it can be expected that there will be a good deal of legal text defining the legal status of MFA employees, the procedure for admission to, and dismissal from, the diplomatic service, the terms of service (compulsory rotation and tenure terms of any foreign posting), and also the pay scales, additional entitlements/perks if serving abroad, and a host of other contractual issues.

More broadly, it appears that the intent is to establish new legal and organisational principles relating to the structure and processes of the Ukrainian diplomatic service, the professional activity of its officials during the implementation of Ukrainian foreign policy, the protection of its national interests in the sphere of international relations, as well as the rights and the interests of citizens and legal entities of Ukraine in foreign lands.

No doubt there is a requirement to overhaul the inner structure and processes of the MFA.

What is interesting is that President Poroshenko’s draft Bill apparently designates the diplomatic service  “as a special service of the state” – whatever the means.  Perhaps it means nothing, perhaps it has very definite repurcussions, but without the text of the draft Bill to peruse at the time of writing, for now a reader can only ponder upon this phrase.

Whatever the case, the President seems assured this Bill will get sufficient votes in the Verkhovna Rada in December.  And why not?  It directly affects a relatively small number of people and doesn’t tread on, or threaten, any vested interests.  Thus it won’t be too difficult to gather the 226 votes required.

However, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is not the only Ukrainian entity with an official remit beyond Ukrainian borders.

Also requiring a significant overhaul (just like the SBU) with regard to structure and process is the ne’er spoken of Foreign Intelligence Service of Ukraine.  An institution, some of whose members will assuredly sit within the embassies of Ukraine along with the MFA staff.

If the MFA structures and processes, not to mention overhaul of employees terms and conditions, effectively modernises and invigorates the institution – which is entirely achievable considering the relatively small size and number of MFA employees – then clearly there may be questions of moral for the FISU officers if they feel slighted and/or unrecognised.

In September 2017, the FISU saw the former acting Head of the Ukrainian Mission to NATO, Yehor Bazhok made its current Chief (thus granting Mr Bazhok a place at the National Security and Defence Council table too).

(For the sake of detail, Mr Bazhok is a relatively young man, Kyiv born in 1980, who speaks Ukrainian, Russian, English and French, and who holds a Master’s Degree in International Relations and European Policy from the Brussels Free University.)

It has not taken Mr Bazhok long to start making noises about the meager FISU budget.

Naturally a meager budget does not necessarily undermine the quality of Ukrainian spookery abroad, but it may well undermine the quantity.  Considering the scale of Kremlin nefariousness across Europe (and the US) a meager budget may not provide the resources to accommodate all that is perhaps expected to be collected, collated, analysed and disseminated in any European capital.  The world of espionage and counterespionage is really rather busy.

It follows therefore that in order for the MFA to be able to deliver “protection of  national interests in the sphere of international relations” and “the interests of citizens and legal entities” it would certainly not be a hindrance if the FISU was also subject to immediate Presidential attention, with the same motivation to bring it “to modern European and world standards, increase the prestige” and “attract new human resources” per the intention of the MFA draft Bill.  After all, the MFA and FISU share the same office – in Ukrainian embassies around the world.

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