This Statement was prepared and signed by members of VoxUkraine Editorial Board, Advisory Board, and its Contributors
On November 21, 2014, exactly one year after the beginning of Euromaidan, five parties elected to Ukraine’s new parliament signed a coalition agreement. Three of the five parties in the coalition did not exist a year ago; the other two were lingering on the margins of politics.
The signing of the coalition agreement is in itself positive; the failure to form a similar pro-reform coalition in June 2006 stunted Ukraine’s political, economic and military development and put the country on the brink of survival. That failure resulted in a loss of thousands of innocent lives, annexation of major swaths of the country’s territory, and enormous hardships for millions of citizens. We are glad that history did not repeat itself, for the costs of another political failure would have been catastrophic. Ukraine now has a pro-reform coalition and, as of December 2, 2014, a new coalition government.
Nevertheless, we believe that neither the coalition agreement nor the coalition government is sufficient to lead Ukraine out of its current predicament. The coalition and its government need to regain the trust of its citizens by proving to them that they serve the broad interests of the Ukrainian people rather than those of a few powerful clans and political groups. We believe that in order to regain this trust, politicians and government officials should agree on a set of general principles that govern the reform process in the country. Without a commitment to such principles, any action plan is doomed to not be trusted by the people and, thus, fail.
We suggest the following 10 commandments that should guide the legislative, judicial, and executive branches in Ukraine.
- Serve Ukraine, not your own personal interests. Laws and appointments should be for the benefit of Ukraine, not a payment for political or financial support.
- Follow the rule of law and only the rule of law. Disputes must be settled in the courts according to an established law, and courts and government institutions will be made accountable to the public rather than to politicians.
- Commit to deregulation and decentralization. At last, give the citizens their due rights and responsibilities. They will know how to govern themselves better than any central authority ever will.
- Be responsible for your failures. Publicly commit to a few specific objectives, identify those responsible for implementing them, and set up the timeline for implementation. Be public about failures and the reasons for failure.
- Protect the checks and balances. Every branch of government should have independent powers and areas of responsibility, and should be separately held accountable to the public.
- Agree to zero tolerance of corruption. Every party of this coalition must agree to be intransigent towards corruption starting with its own members. Any law/reform passed should include specific provisions of how to tackle corruption in the area of that law/reform.
- Regain legitimacy of the Parliament and the State. Members of the coalition must participate in the Rada sessions and vote in person. Key governmental decisions must be communicated clearly and proactively, debated publicly and the interests of key stakeholders, including public at large, must be respected. There should be no murky deals behind closed doors. The commitment to transparency must be paramount.
- Protect the freedom of speech, the freedom of press, and the right of citizens to express themselves. Each coalition member must protect the freedom of expression, independence of mass media, and whistleblowers.
- Stop making excuses. The war, non-cooperative parliament, corrupt judges and such should not be used as excuses not to conduct radical reforms. They are a direct consequence of a lack of reform, not the other way around.
- Equal rights. Create a level playing field without exceptions. Everyone should be treated equally, from student to oligarch, from a person living in Crimea and Donetsk to those in Lviv, and regardless of ethnicity, race, sexual orientation, religious beliefs, and cultural values.
Members of the editorial and advisory boards of VoxUkraine.org:
- Andrei Kirilenko
- Yuriy Gorodnichenko
- Olena Bilan
- Tymofiy Mylovanov
- Dmytro Sologoub
- Tom Coupe
- Oleksandr Talavera
- Oleksandr Zholud
- Natalia Shapoval
- Ilona Sologoub
- Zoya Mylovanova
- Kateryna Dronova
- Volodymyr Bilotkach
- Dmytro Boyarchuk
Contributors to VoxUkraine.org:
- Oleh Havrylyshyn
- Mariya Sydorovych
- Olena Nizalova
- Agnieszka Piasecka
- Victor Maziarchuk
- Irina Paliashvili
- Vadym Volosovych
- Dmytro Ilin
- Anna Pechenkina
- Sergii Meleshuk
- Denys Nizalov
- Yegor Grygorenko
- Maksym Cherkasenko
- Vitaliy Vavryshchuk
- Alex Nikolsko-Rzhevskyy
- Dmytro Goriunov
- Maxym Kryshko
- Alex Sobolev