Kyiv hosts world lead­ers in com­ing week; what will Ukraine get?

Kyiv Post - - Front Page - BY BRIAN BON­NER BON­[email protected]

LON­DON — This is a big week for Ukraine on the world stage. It kicked off with three con­fer­ences in as many days in Lon­don about Ukraine, plus a July 5 visit by Ukrainian Prime Min­is­ter Volodymyr Groys­man with Bri­tish Prime Min­is­ter Theresa May.

The venue shifts to Kyiv, with the July 9 ar­rival of U. S. Sec­re­tary of State Rex Tiller­son, who will brief Pres­i­dent Petro Poroshenko on the June 7 meet­ing be­tween U. S. Pres­i­dent Don­ald J. Trump and Rus­sian Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin. The Trump-Putin con­ver­sa­tion is tak­ing place at the G20 sum­mit in Ham­burg, Ger­many.

Be­sides Poroshenko, Tiller­son will meet “with young re­form­ers from govern­ment and civil so­ci­ety” in Kyiv be­fore trav­el­ing to Is­tan­bul, Turkey.

On his first of­fi­cial visit, Tiller­son “will reaf­firm Amer­ica’s com­mit­ment to Ukraine’s sovereignt­y and ter­ri­to­rial in­tegrity, while en­cour­ag­ing the govern­ment of Ukraine to con­tinue im­ple­ment­ing re­forms that will strengthen Ukraine’s eco­nomic, po­lit­i­cal and mil­i­tary re­silience.”

In an en­cour­ag­ing sig­nal that Trump will be tough on Putin, the Amer­i­can pres­i­dent in Poland on July 6 called on the Krem­lin to “cease its desta­bi­liz­ing ac­tiv­i­ties in Ukraine” and join the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity of civ­i­lized na­tions. He also again called on NATO mem­bers to spend more on de­fense so that the al­liance can pre­vail “on all bat­tle­fields” — from con­ven­tional to cy­ber-war­fare and ter­ror­ism.

Trump also said that the U.S. will ag­gres­sively ex­port nat­u­ral gas to Europe, chal­leng­ing Rus­sian state-owned Gazprom’s dom­i­nance. “Trump said that Poland will no longer be ‘hostage to one gas sup­plier,’ hint­ing at Moscow’s ag­gres­sive en­ergy poli­cies,” Svit­lana Zal­ishchuk, a Ukrainian mem­ber of par­lia­ment, wrote on Face­book, after at­tend­ing Trump’s speech in War­saw.

Stoltenber­g & NATO

Also on July 9, NATO Sec­re­tary Gen­eral Jens Stoltenber­g will ar­rive in Kyiv for two days of meet­ings to mark the 20th an­niver­sary of the NATO-Ukraine Char­ter on a Distinc­tive Part­ner­ship, which launched co­op­er­a­tion that has been in­ten­si­fy­ing since Rus­sia’s war against Ukraine in 2014.

Stoltenber­g will meet with Poroshenko, Groys­man, ad­dress the Verkhovna Rada, open an ex­hi­bi­tion at Mys­tet­skiy Arsenal and chris­ten a new head­quar­ters for the NATO Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Of­fice in Ukraine at 4L Ihor Syko­rsky Air­craft De­signer St., near the U. S. Em­bassy in Ukraine. NATO has about 50 em­ploy­ees work­ing in its Li­ai­son Of­fice, headed by Alexan­der Vin­nikov, and its NATO In­for­ma­tion and Doc­u­men­ta­tion Cen­ter, headed by Barbora Maronkova.

While Ukraine has made join­ing the 29-mem­ber al­liance one of its top goals, it will not hap­pen any­time soon. Ukraine is sim­ply seen as not ready.

For now, the best Ukraine can get is greater as­sis­tance to im­prove its de­fense ca­pa­bil­i­ties and be­come in­te­grated more closely with NATO stan­dards. The more that Ukraine im­proves its de­fenses and democ­racy, the greater the chances of even­tual mem­ber­ship, as­sum­ing the na­tion pre­vails against Rus­sia’s war.

In Lon­don, speak­ing on June 6 at a UK govern­ment-spon­sored Ukraine Re­form Con­fer­ence, NATO Deputy As­sis­tant Sec­re­tary Gen­eral James Ap­pathu­rai, cited up to $40 mil­lion in NATO trust fund money avail­able to help Ukraine in: com­mand, con­trol, com­mu­ni­ca­tions and com­put­ers; lo­gis­tics and stan­dard­iza­tion; cy­ber de­fense, med­i­cal re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion and mil­i­tary ca­reer tran­si­tion.

Ap­pathu­rai said that Ukraine needs to show im­prove­ment in tak­ing po­lit­i­cal own­er­ship of re­forms, gover­nance, over­com­ing vested in­ter­ests and in cre­at­ing an in­sti­tu­tional cul­ture that re­wards ini­tia­tive.

NATO of­fi­cials “see progress in all ar­eas,” he noted. He also said that, in meet­ings be­tween Rus­sia and NATO, Ukraine is the “first item on the agenda” be­cause Rus­sia’s war is “a ma­jor cause of ten­sion.” Ukraine’s suc­cess will pro­vide “a ma­jor con­tri­bu­tion to se­cu­rity for all of us here in Europe,” Ap­pathu­rai said.

EU-Ukraine Sum­mit

On July 12–13, the Euro­pean Union will be rep­re­sented by Don­ald Tusk, the pres­i­dent of the Euro­pean Council, and Jean Claude Juncker, the pres­i­dent of the Euro­pean Com­mis­sion in a Kyiv sum­mit. The agenda will fo­cus on: Rus­sia’s war in the Don­bas and il­le­gal an­nex­a­tion of Crimea, re­form and the in­ter­na­tional sit­u­a­tion.

Speak­ing in Lon­don on July 6, Valdis Dom­brovskis, the vice pres­i­dent of the Euro­pean Com­mis­sion, noted that the EU has pledged 12.8 bil­lion eu­ros to Ukraine through 2020, but the aid is con­di­tioned on mak­ing progress in spe­cific ar­eas of re­form.

Dom­brovskis told par­tic­i­pants of the Ukraine Re­form Con­fer­ence that Ukraine should take ad­van­tage of its rel­a­tive eco­nomic re­cov­ery to make progress on “am­bi­tious re­forms.”

He also noted a 25 per­cent in­crease in EU-Ukraine trade in the first four months of this year com­pared to the same pe­riod last year, with­out nam­ing fig­ures. But last year’s free trade to­tal be­tween the EU and Ukraine amounted to 30 bil­lion eu­ros, up from 27 bil­lion eu­ros in 2015. The trade is ex­pected to in­crease with the start of an EU-Ukraine free trade agree­ment and be­cause of Ukraine’s strate­gic shift away from Rus­sia.

The sum­mit will have a cel­e­bra­tory at­mos­phere, ac­cord­ing to EU of­fi­cials, not only be­cause of the free trade agree­ment, but also be­cause of the June 11 start of visafree travel for Ukraini­ans to most EU coun­tries.

How­ever, EU of­fi­cials are also ex­pected to press Ukraine harder to take faster and more de­ci­sive ac­tion to trans­form the na­tion, chiefly per­haps by in­sti­tut­ing rule of law and pun­ish­ing cor­rup­tion. Ukraine’s high level of cor­rup­tion and ram­pant im­punity are seen as the main im­ped­i­ments to eco­nomic growth.

The UK’s Am­bas­sador to Ukraine Ju­dith Gough, in an in­ter­view with In­ter­fax-Ukraine pub­lished on July 4, un­der­scored the point: “The United King­dom wants to con­tinue trad­ing with Ukraine. We want to build that trade re­la­tion­ship and that in­vest­ment re­la­tion­ship. And the best thing that we can do right now to sup­port that is to build strong in­sti­tu­tions, par­tic­u­larly the ju­di­ciary, and tackle cor­rup­tion, be­cause the big­gest ob­sta­cle to Bri­tish in­vestors com­ing to Ukraine or trad­ing with Ukraine is con­cerns that they will not be able to have a fair hear­ing in the ju­di­cial process, as the ju­di­ciary is not strong. I think we will only see in­vestors com­ing in if they be­lieve that it is trans­par­ent and fair, and ev­ery­body is equal be­fore the law.”

The Lon­don events in­cluded a July 5 con­fer­ence spon­sored by Chatham House as­sess­ing Ukraine’s trans­for­ma­tion since the EuroMaidan Rev­o­lu­tion that ousted Pres­i­dent Vik­tor Yanukovych, the July 6 Ukraine Re­form Con­fer­ence and a July 7 in­vestors con­fer­ence spon­sored by Dragon Cap­i­tal.

French Pres­i­dent Em­manuel Macron (R) and his Ukrainian coun­ter­part Petro Poroshenko give a joint press con­fer­ence after a meet­ing at the El­y­see Palace in Paris on June 26. (AFP)

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