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US-UA Security Dialogue X
Washington, DC
February 28, 2019
UA HES Special Event:
Sobornist' at 100
Ukrainian Museum
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May 23, 2019
US-UA WG Yearly Summit VI
Washington, DC
June 13, 2019

US-UA Energy Dialogue VI
Kyiv, Ukraine
August 29, 2019 
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CUSUR 2016 - Project I
US-UA “Working Group” Initiative

The US-Ukraine “Working Group” Initiative was launched in 2007 in order to secure an array of experts in "areas of interest” for CUSUR and its various forums/proceedings; at the same time, it was hoped that the ‘experts’ might agree to write a series of ‘occasional papers’ to identify “major issues” impacting on US-Ukrainian relations.
CUSUR 2017 - Project II
Publication Efforts

Recognizing the urgent need to set up proper channels for the maximum circulation of the information/analysis CUSUR possessed or had at its disposal, the Center long focused on having ‘a publication presence’ of some form or another.
CUSUR 2018 - Project III
DC Occasional Briefings Series

CUSUR did not turn its attention to having a DC presence until summer 2012. Borrowing space when the need arose (particularly for various forum steering committees meetings) from the American Foreign Policy Council, its longest abiding partner, seemed to suffice; an Acela ride from the Center’s NY office did the rest. If there was a concern, it was to open an office in Kyiv.
RTIII—Ukrainian Weekly Report #1

D.C. conference examines Ukraine's readiness for inclusion in Euro-Atlantic community

by Andrew Nynka

WASHINGTON - The Ukrainian Congress Committee of America and a number of sponsors and organizers on October 8-9 held the third annual roundtable focusing on "Ukraine's Quest for Mature Nation Statehood" to assess Ukraine's qualifications for a place in the Euro-Atlantic community and to explore attitudes towards embracing Ukraine as a member of Euro-Atlantic organizations.

Organizers said the two-day conference, held in the heart of Washington at the JW Marriott Hotel on Pennsylvania Avenue, brought academics and foreign policy experts together to discuss Ukraine's stated aspiration to join European structures.

More than 300 people listened as officials reaffirmed Ukraine's course toward Europe. Continued allegations of presidential-level corruption and recent news of illegal military hardware sales, however, have left the country's future in an expanding union of European countries uncertain, many of the experts present said.

Panelists added that positive international steps, such as support for the fight against global terrorism and a formal request on May 24 to be considered a candidate for NATO membership, have demonstrated Ukraine's desire to join Euro-Atlantic structures.

Oleksander Chalii, state secretary for European integration at Ukraine's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said during his address on Tuesday morning that Ukraine's foreign policy is on an "irreversible course toward integration with Euro-Atlantic structures."

However, many officials from European organizations made it quite clear that, although Ukraine has plotted a course toward European integration, that goal remains only a distant reality. Along with necessary improvements in human rights conditions and the elimination of corruption, they highlighted the need to reform Soviet-era programs, improve economic conditions, strengthen civil society and develop a freer, uncensored press.

In order to join Euro-Atlantic institutions, one ambassador from the European Union said, Ukraine must not be a burden to the organization.

"The EU is not a club with quick membership. It is the most serious attempt in history to organize the political landscape, and it cannot be organized by decree," said Ambassador Guenter Berghart, head of the EU delegation in Washington. Although the alliance pledged, through the Maastricht Treaty signed in 1991, to provide aid to poorer countries, he said member-countries must also have something to contribute to the union in order to create a stronger alliance.

* * *

Below is the first of a two-part series covering the third annual roundtable, "Ukraine's Quest for Mature Nation Statehood." Coverage of the first day's topics, in this week's article, includes: the progress Ukraine has made in moving toward Euro-Atlantic structures by examining the country's market economy, military structures and democratic polity; the investment and business climate in Ukraine; and an as assessment of European Union-Ukraine relations.

Part 2 will deal with: Ukraine's relations with the United States, specifically, the development of a strategic partnership, U.S. assistance for Ukraine's effort to join the World Trade Organization (WTO), and the contributions Ukraine has made to the global war on terrorism; media freedoms from the vantage point of Ukrainian journalists; and NATO's relationship with Ukraine in terms of expansion and NATO-Ukraine cooperation.

* * *

In Tuesday morning's keynote address, Rep. Maurice Hinchey began by congratulating the UCCA's Ukrainian National Information Service for 25 years of work. The New York congressman also said Ukraine's most recent parliamentary elections in March were not as democratic as he had hoped for, calling them "marred and chaotic." He said Ukraine's political situation could lead to a fallback to semi-authoritarian rule and called that possibility "a great tragedy for Ukraine and the world."

In order to ensure that Ukraine continues on a democratic path, Rep. Hinchey said, "The U.S. must continue to mold a political, social and economic foundation."

Oleksandr Chalii, state secretary for European integration in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine, said Ukraine is beginning to do just that. He said it is critical and vital for the Verkhovna Rada to create in the Constitution of Ukraine the avenues to deal with Euro-Atlantic integration. For the first time, Mr. Chalii said, the Parliament will take up this issue in harmony with the executive. He also cited the creation of a parliamentary committee to deal specifically with Ukraine's integration into Euro-Atlantic structures.

Mr. Chalii said Ukraine could achieve its goal of integration through deeper relationships with European institutions. As an essential element in steps toward NATO, he said, Ukraine must eliminate "the current crisis of trust in the U.S.-Ukraine relationship." In acknowledging that problem, he added that Ukraine "is ready to play by the rules of the game." He added that a reaction from the EU was not yet clear, but he hoped it might come in future EU summits.

Because of the country's geography, Mr. Chalii noted, Ukraine cannot escape the fact that it links East and West. He acknowledged that Ukraine's stated direction toward Euro-Atlantic structures does not exclude work with Eurasian countries.

Toward Euro-Atlantic standards

A significant factor in Ukraine's accession to Euro-Atlantic structures, panelists agreed, is the extent to which the country has established democratic principles and institutions. Mark Kaplan, director of Moldova, Ukraine and Belarus affairs at the U.S. State Department, said that, although the current state of democracy in Ukraine is imperfect, the country is moving in the right direction.

Mr. Kaplan added that, while pronounced economic growth is a positive factor for the country, the need for a strong, free-functioning press in Ukraine needs to be further developed.

Experts have also regarded Ukraine's judiciary as an obstacle to democracy. Hryhorii Nemyria, director of the Center for European and International Studies at the Institute of International Relations of Taras Shevchenko National University in Kyiv, said strengthening the country's weak judiciary is a must and called that point "indisputable."

Mr. Nemyria said it is not enough to judge democratic reform in Ukraine on the basis of elections. "Democracy must be thought of as a process - not an event. What matters more is the behavior and culture of democracy."

He also noted the importance of moral standards and the need for non-violent conflict between civil society and political institutions, on one hand, and cooperation and synergy between them, on the other.

Mr. Nemyria added that, among the post-Soviet states, Ukraine is unique in certain regards. It is the only case where the effort to increase the control of a presidential authoritarian role by a referendum failed and the only case where, as a result of the parliamentary elections, the opposition is emerging as an institution.

The push for further democratic reform in Ukraine will depend largely on institutions within Ukraine, said Mr. Nemyria, who is also chair at the Department for European Integration at the Ukrainian Academy of Public Administration. He added that Ukraine's civil society could act as the agent of change within the country.

Because of Ukraine's negative image in the international arena, Mr. Nemyria said, it is becoming more and more difficult for change to come from outside the country.

Calling this one of the country's most historically important periods Mr. Nemyria seemed to place a large degree of hope on Ukraine's civil society. He said that, because civil society is playing many of the government's roles, it has the potential and is capable of reversing the current political stalemate. "It can become the foundation of an informed and engaged citizenry and become a source of an alternative political elite," he underscored.

Going one step further, Nadia Diuk, senior program officer for Central and Eastern Europe and the New Independent States at the National Endowment for Democracy, said Ukrainian civil society is showing a level of sophistication it had not previously shown.

Dr. Diuk noted that the March parliamentary elections were a setback for democratic reform and gave the country a negative review when talking about Ukraine's achievement of a democratic polity.

According to Dr. Diuk, the pro-presidential parliamentary bloc turned what was about an 11 percent share of the vote into control of almost 40 percent of the seats in Parliament. "Although the public came out to vote, there was no regime change," she said.

Dr. Diuk cited the decision of the Community of Democracy (an association of democratic states created in 2000 to support fledgling democracies) to downgrade Ukraine from member status to observer. "The qualification for participant status was that the country should meet the standards of an electoral democracy - Ukraine fell short," she said.

A market economy

While democratic reforms seemed to be lacking in Ukraine, many panelists emphasized Ukraine's economic progress over the last three years.

Panelists cited legislation on money laundering, intellectual property rights and Ukrainian tariffs on foreign poultry, what some called "the chicken war," as impediments to further improvement of Ukraine's market economy. Kempton Jenkins, president of the U.S.-Ukraine Business Council, said resolving those issues will enable other concerns between Ukraine and the United States to move ahead.

But Mr. Jenkins also stressed that the U.S. administration can do more to help business in Ukraine; namely, eliminating "a very unjust tragedy" - the Jackson-Vanik amendment, and using its influence to help Ukraine achieve World Trade Organization membership.

Anders Aslund, a pre-eminent economist who advised the Russian government on economic matters in 1991-1994, said of Jackson-Vanik, "It's just a shame such an absurdity can be on the books." But Dr. Aslund gave a very positive assessment of Ukraine's economic situation. Ukraine is in a market economy with free prices and free domestic and foreign trade - "it's more than the EU can brag about," Dr. Aslund added.

Ukraine must correct its problem with the rule of law and gain entrance to the WTO, Dr. Aslund continued. "Without it, Ukraine has no protection and will not reach its potential."

Yuri Yekhanurov, chair of the Verkhovna Rada Committee on Industry and Enterprise, said tax reform and property rights are priority issues. "Ukraine has moved to the market economy but has not yet learned how to use the tools of a market economy," the former vice prime minister of Ukraine said.

Richard Shriver, executive vice-president of the International Executive Service Corps, said Ukraine will know it has achieved a strong market economy when graduates of Ukrainian universities go into business rather than government, when anti-market laws are abandoned and when land truly becomes a commodity.

Military reform

In its efforts to integrate into Euro-Atlantic structures, Ukraine has done much in the military sphere. Joint international exercises and participation in NATO's KFOR peacekeeping unit in Kosovo are just a few of the areas where the Ukrainian military has begun to work with the European community.

But some panelists argued that Ukraine still had not done enough.

Maj. Gen. Oleh Sivushchenko of the armed forces of Ukraine said the country is creating a modern military force, doing so by balancing the size of military formations with the country's ability to finance them.

Maj. Gen. Sivushchenko added that the rapid reactionary forces of Ukraine will be the skeleton of an all-volunteer Ukrainian army capable of full military integration into all Euro-Atlantic structures.

According to Gen. Nicholas Krawciw (U.S. Army, retired), three things need to be done by military leaders in order to ensure professional forces in Ukraine: reforming of military education, creating an all-volunteer force with a solid non-commissioned officer corps, and redesigning the military personnel management system.

Investment and business in Ukraine

Ukraine's image as a corrupt and dangerous hinterland has done more than create political and diplomatic problems, it has also scared away foreign investment. Panelists like SUN Interbrew country manager for Ukraine Joe Strella said they understand the problem, but all panelists seemed to agree that productive and profitable business does exist in Ukraine.

Mr. Strella questioned why investment in Ukraine is so low. He called the investment climate in Ukraine very receptive and said the country harbors a potential for profit. Opportunities to attract investment through established Ukrainian banks, he said, are very good compared to similar countries. He added that the workforce is far superior to that of similar countries. Mr. Strella stressed that business in Ukraine can be done within the system, without bribes, by creating friendships and familiarity with local government officials.

Many of the lunchtime panelists said there is a misconception on investing in Ukraine. Business and investment in Ukraine comes down to a case-by-case basis when talking about investment - a matter of finding the right business partners, panelists said.

The issue of bribes is over, stated one panelist. David Sweere of Kyiv Atlantic Farms said that while conducting business in Ukraine he had never accepted a bribe or, for that matter, ever been offered a bribe.

EU-Ukraine relations

Ukraine, according to Leonid Kozhara of the Foreign Affairs Section of the Presidential Administration of Ukraine, has no other choice but Europe. Mr. Kozhara said the country has no Asian alternative and "Russia would be a return to union."

However, in response to a question on his view of the EU, Mr. Kozhara replied, "What we see in the EU now is an oligarchy, it is becoming exclusive." He added that, "the EU's main goal should be democracy and well-being for all, not for the few."

EU Ambassador Burghart said Ukraine's integration into the EU is a matter of time and political decisions. "Maybe by 2011," he said, "I don't know." Integration into the EU is somewhat more complicated than integration into other European structures, the ambassador added.

"It is the most profound transformation of the political landscape in Europe ever in our history" because, the ambassador said, membership in the EU is "a pooling of sovereignty." EU member-countries are currently writing a constitution, to be ratified by all members, that would resemble something between a union as tightly knit as the United States and the current EU. Maintaining EU standards when looking at the possibility of admitting countries like Ukraine makes entrance for former Soviet states significantly more difficult, the ambassador added.

"If we lose the momentum and the dynamism of our integration process, then the question of membership of other countries doesn't even exist anymore," the ambassador added.

Ambassador Burghart, whose mother was born in Kolomyia and his father in Ivano-Frankivsk, said "it is not a question of whether Ukraine is a European country."

"All of this is not the problem - these are non-problems - the problem is to continue the unification of Europe," which he reminded everyone has as its geographical center the town of Riakhiv in the Zakarpattia region of Ukraine.

Roman Woronowycz of The Ukrainian Weekly's Kyiv Press Bureau contributed to this article.


Past Highlight Events

RT XVII Items of Note
Highlights from Ukraine's Quest for Mature Nation Statehood RT XVII: Ukraine & Religious Freedom, held in Washington, DC on Oct. 27, 2016
UA HES SE: UA 25th B-Day
Highlights from UA HES Special Event: 'Commemorating the 25th Anniversary of the Modern Ukrainian State', held at the NY Princeton Club on Sept. 17, 2016
US-UA WG YS IV Highlights
Highlights from US-UA WG Yearly Summit IV: Providing Ukraine with an Annual Report Card, held at the University Club in Washington, DC on June 16, 2016
US-UA SD VII Items of Note
Highlights from US-Ukraine Security Dialogue VII held on February 25, 2016 in Washington DC
UA HES SE: WW2 Legacy
Highlights from the UA Historical Encounters Special Event: 'Contested Ground': The Legacy of WW2 in Eastern Europe, held in Edmonton on October 23-24, 2015
Holodomor SE Highlights
Highlights from the UA Historical Encounters Special Event: Taking Measure of the Holodomor, held at the Princeton Club of NY on November 5-6, 2013
US-UA SD III Items of Note
Highlights from US-Ukraine Security Dialogue III held on May 19, 2012 in Chicago, IL

  • Former UA Foreign Minister Volodymyr Ohryzko's keynote
UEAF Forum VI Highlights
Highlights from UEAF Forum VI, held in Ottawa, Canada on March 7-8, 2012
RT XII Items of Note
Highlights from Ukraine's Quest for Mature Nation Statehood RT XII: PL-UA & TR-UA, held in Washington, DC on Oct 19–20, 2011
US-UA ED III Items of Note
Highlights from US-Ukraine Energy Dialogue III, held in Washington DC
on April 15-16, 2008
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