If Ukraine completes the terms of its Association Agreement, the European path will be open to Kyiv, said European MP Jacek Saryusz-Wolski, addressing the Wroclaw Global Forum in Poland. However, that path is challenging as Ukraine must rebuild itself in a way that Poland did in the early 1990s. Ukraine must get rid of its “bad habits,” the oligarchic state, and corrupt capitalism. Politics must become transparent and the country must have an efficient administration. “Ukraine must begin with new parliamentary elections to kick out those members of parliament who were bought by oligarchs” and “eradicate corruption to the bone,” said Saryusz-Wolski. Changing the country from within and aligning its structure and legislation with EU standards is a process that after 10-15 years will Europeanize Ukraine. “I myself negotiated the Polish association and I am jealous—opening of the [EU] market, huge amount of money on the table—11 billion euros—I would have dreamed as a Polish negotiator to get such good conditions, plus the takeover of European law and standards,” said Saryusz-Wolski. He noted that when Poland signed its association agreement with the EU, the country did not get a membership invitation. Ukraine must follow in Poland’s footsteps by adopting tough economic reforms and consolidating the state. The country has good prospects and Ukrainian society is much more mature today than it was during the Orange Revolution era, according to Saryusz-Wolski. His advice to Ukrainians: “go to work, come as close as possible to Western-type democracy and market economy and do your homework and we the West—Americans and Europeans—will do our utmost to help you.” Former US Undersecretary of State for Global Affairs Paula Dobriansky argued that Putin’s ideological narrative, based on pseudohistorical points of a wronged but resurgent Russia that is trying to regain its rightful place, needs a counter narrative from the West. Putin has pronounced a number of hostilities against the West at large, and made it clear that the path of a Europe whole and free is not the path on which he intends to take Russia. The West, however, has not properly challenged Putin’s actions in Ukraine, believes Dobriansky, it has not mobilized as a single, strong entity by highlighting its Western values, institutions and what it stand for. Ukrainians have made a civilizational choice to be part of the West even while parts of its territory have been annexed and occupied by Russia. The West must support those aspirations and enforce a policy of nonrecognition of the Crimean annexation, said Dobriansky. At a time when there is democracy backsliding in Thailand and Turkey, when there is a failure of an attempted democratic transition in the Arab world, Ukraine’s successful transition to democracy will have impact not just in the region but also globally, believes Karl Gershman, the president of the National Endowment for Democracy. Today Russia is the most powerful proponent of authoritarian values in the world and, as such, must be contained. Gershman proposes a new policy of containment toward Russia, first of all to protect Ukraine but also to protect the world order “into which Vladimir Putin has driven a tank.” “Whereas in the past it could be said the Soviet Union sought global conquest and therefore had to be contained, today the global dimension of this is world order. If Russia is permitted to get away with what it did with Crimea, then the old rules no longer hold. We’re holding the door open for Russia, but not for Putin to walk through,” said Gershman. Ievhen Vorobyov, an analyst with the Polish Institute of International Affairs discussed the inauguration of Ukrainian President Poroshenko and the continued war in the east. Vorobyov said he was moderately optimistic about the new president, as this is the first election in which a majority of people throughout the entire country voted for one candidate. Poroshenko is a credible interlocutor for the West, and this is a hopeful sign. The country has also managed under very dire circumstances to channel more budget funds to its underfunded and decimated armed forces, which are finally having some success. Ukraine has also avoided the dangerous scenario of having gas supplies from Russia cut off. These are hopeful signs, said Vorobyov, but Ukraine needs to do more. The Ukrainian government must hold parliamentary elections, get rid of corrupt officials from past administrations, and develop a wise carrot-and-stick policy to retain the secessionist Donbas region without too huge a concession.
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