Donors Conference on Ukraine – Stretching Out Hand for Miserable Pittance [entire article]


Dmitry MININ 07.05.2015 00:00

The Europe-Ukraine summit was a frustration for the Kiev’s regime. The donors’ conference that followed on April 28 ended up in total failure. Suffice it to say that the very word “donors” lost any meaning, no matter the regime had pinned great hopes on the event as it was seeking ways out of dire economic situation. Few are willing to give a new impetus to the Ukraine’s economy which is in doldrums. Those who gathered at the meeting called it a conference on Ukraine’s reforms, the changes to be supported in words with no financial obligations to follow. The participants mainly included officials of international organizations and Western states spending travel allowances, as well as Ukrainian MPs and parliamentarians. No serious creditors appeared. The Ukrainian government had assured that China, India and Saudi Arabia were willing to invest. But they ignored the event. True, Beijing really had said before that it set eyes on big investment opportunities in Ukraine but now it reacts to the recently adopted law on “decommunisation”.

Petro Poroshenko made offhand remarks at the beginning to say the risks of investments into the Ukraine’s economy should not be exaggerated. Talking about the strategy, he offered the Five Ds program prepared by his friend Mikheil Saakashvili, which includes deoligarchation (getting rid of tycoons), demonopolization, deregulation, decentralization and debureaucratisation. Arseniy Yatsenyuk said something to cause confusion among participants. Jokingly, he offered a swap. According to him, Jean Claude Juncker could become President of Ukraine in ten years with Poroshenko taking his office as President of the European Commission. Nobody thought it was really funny.

As usually the Prime Minister tried to curry favor with the West. At the same time he felt insulted by lack of reciprocity and even blackmail and dickering. He displayed enmity towards Athens. The Ukrainian Prime Minister compared the amount of international financial support to EU member Greece to the financial aid non-EU member Ukraine has received as he asked for more financial support. “Greece has already received 300 billion dollars with no war, no Russian tanks, no fight against a nuclear state,” while Ukraine has “received about 30 billion US dollars in overall financial support from the IMF, from G7 member states” despite having a population “four times higher,” Yatsenyuk said. He added Ukraine is relying on strong financial support from the bloc, saying the best way to “win the war against Russian-led aggression is to make Ukraine a success story.” Greeks had probably hesitated if they should support the anti-Russian sanctions regime but now the loutishness of Ukrainian Prime Minister makes them take a more definite stand to prevent the introduction of new restrictive measures against Russia and lift new the ones currently in force.

Yatsenyuk boastfully said Russian investors and everyone who has ties with Russia will be kept away from the privatization process. Sounds ridiculous. First, the discrimination against some group of potential investors alienates others. Whatever, no way it matches the so-called Five Ds plan. Creditors know well that there are branches of Ukrainian economy which are of no interest to anyone, but Russia because of historic ties. The ban on those “who has ties with Russia” includes international energy giants who, one way or another, take part in economic activities in Russia. And who needs Ukrainian shares?

For understanding Ukrainian leaders it is important to know who calls the tune. It’s rather peculiar! Kiev mainly asks Europe for help. But it parrots someone else’s words. It became obvious as US Vice President Joe Biden presented a video address. He often visited Kiev personally when the task was to install a government more friendly to the United States. Now, when it comes to financial support of the puppet regime, he prefers to communicate at the distance. His speech sounded like if he was not aware of what’s was going on. He only indirectly touched upon the issue of economic aid. The Vice President demonstrated that the US administration was interested in making the crisis go on and weaken the parties involved. He emphasized the need to maintain the sanctions against Russia till, as he put it, Russia fully complies with the Minsk accords. He put no demands to Ukraine. He said “that’s why we continue to provide Ukraine with security assistance, so that Ukrainians and your military can secure their territory and borders and defend themselves against Russian aggression”. This kind of partition of labor, when Europe has to pay for the geopolitical interests of the United States, gives rise to growing resentment in the old continent. According to German sources, the participants in the conference said the reforms implemented so far were not enough.

Johannes Hahn, the Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy & Enlargement Negotiations, said Kiev has just started to take the very first steps on the way of reforming the judiciary. Valdis Dombrovskis, Vice-President of the European Commission responsible for the Euro and Social Dialogue, criticized the slow pace of constitutional reform. Elisabeth Maria Ploumen, Dutch Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation, said overwhelming corruption was the main obstacle on the way to reform in Ukraine. One of EU officials told anonymously to Deutsche Welle on the sidelines of event that Kiev would never get the same amount of aid from Brussels as Greece. According to him, dozens of euros have been invested into Ukraine with no result. One of representatives of European entrepreneurs said unfavorable business conditions and the military conflict in the Donbass stand in the way of investments into the country. The need for anti-trust law was emphasized at the conference. This is a way to criticize the oligarchic system of Ukraine which scares investors away.

Summing things up, the conference did not result in “golden rain” pouring into the economy of Ukraine. This is just miserable pittance handed out to be put into a stretched hand. Actually, the sums are significant – $1, 8 euros from the European Union, 1, 4 billion euros from Germany, $2 billion from the United States. But that’s what had been promised before the conference. Besides, these sums will be delivered, as Vice President Biden noted, only in case of successful economic reform. That is something that evokes great doubt.

The sums newly announced at the conference include $35 million from Norway, $66 from Canada, $100 million from Switzerland and even $100 million from Serbia to support refuges. This is not enough to save “the founding fathers of Ukrainian democracy”.

Thanks to the Strategic Culture Foundation.