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2 February, 2012  ▪  The Ukrainian Week,  Natalia Nemyliwska

Priority Changes

Reform is probably one of the most often used words in Ukraine. Because of its frequent, often thoughtless use, it has a hollow ring to it, having lost its essence.

Reform is probably one of the most often used words in Ukraine. Because of its frequent, often thoughtless use, it has a hollow ring to it, having lost its essence. In reality, reform refers to the changes that Ukraine needs to implement in order to rise from the economic and social abyss it has fallen into, the depth of which is demonstrated by its positions in various international ratings. This, in turn, is evidence of a lack of real reforms. The Ukrainian Week turned to the representatives of Ukraine's key partners in the international arena, as well as the National Institute for Strategic Studies, which is supposed to act as the government's think tank, with questions about the reforms that should be of top priority in Ukraine. Typically, the Institute refused to answer our questions, possibly due to the absence of such among the nation's professional strategists. The Embassy of the Russian Federation followed suit. This requires no comment, particularly in view of the “normalization” of relations between Ukraine and Russia, which have improved to the extent of the cancellation of official meetings between the two presidents.

Natalia Nemylivska, Director of NATO Information and Documentation Centre in Ukraine

Sustainable and effective reforms should be based on a holistic approach and I believe that NATO and Ukraine have a unique tool in-hand to help Ukraine move forward qualitative and far-reaching transformations in all areas of Ukrainian society. And by this I am referring to the Annual National Program (ANP), which is the key practical instrument mapping out Ukraine’s reform objectives and goals.

While the ANP is a Ukraine-driven document and responsibility for its implementation falls on Ukraine, the Allies stand ready to provide Ukraine with relevant assistance in implementing the domestic reforms outlined in the Program.

From this perspective, the ANP is truly a comprehensive reform plan and the central framework for our practical cooperation on the basis of shared values. This instrument works to bring Ukraine closer to the Euro-Atlantic family and facilitates the achievement of one of Ukraine’s main priorities — its European integration ambitions. One must remember that 21 of NATO’s 28 members are also members of the EU, and the values espoused by all members of these two institutions, and the US and Canada on the other side of the Atlantic, are shared and congruent.

This basic broad-based reform philosophy underpins Ukraine’s ANP. Military issues for example, although a priority for Ukraine and NATO relations, only account for 20% of the Program, which means 80% is focused on other key areas, namely political and economic issues, resources, security issues, and legal issues. So, I think that NATO and Ukraine have a very good framework in place to move reforms forward in all areas, answering to that holistic approach which is key to sustainable success.

I would like to say a few words about Ukraine’s ongoing reform efforts in the defence and security sectors and how NATO’s current internal defence spending and procurement review could also be useful for Ukraine. As NATO Allies are also coping with the serious effects of the economic crisis and cutbacks are inevitable, the notion of “smart defence”, which essentially means prioritising, specializing and seeking multinational solutions, coupled with better spending of defence euros and dollars through what has been dubbed “smart budgets”, are becoming more pertinent today. Thinking about how to spend smarter in order to be able to deliver real security at a lower cost could be of interest to Ukraine. Furthermore, Ukraine’s government will soon adopt the State Program on Armament Development and Military Equipment for 2012-2017, which foresees a substantial increase in Ukraine’s state procurement orders for defence. I believe Ukraine could also stand to gain from adopting such a line of thinking in its defence planning process, making its own defense spending and procurement more effective.

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