Yalta European Strategy: NEWS


13th YES Annual Meeting: the headlines from day two

During the second day of the conference – named ‘The world, Europe and Ukraine: Storms of Change’ – attendees heard from a wide range of high-profile speakers including Ryszard Czarnecki, Vice-President of the European Parliament; Pat Cox, President of the European Parliament (2002-2004) and Member of the European Parliament (1989-2004); Mustafa Nayyem, Member of the Parliament of Ukraine; Sergii Leshchenko, Member of the Parliament of Ukraine; and Yuriy Lutsenko, Prosecutor General of Ukraine. Moderators included Richard N. Haass, President, Council on Foreign Relations; Stephen Sackur, Presenter, HARDtalk, BBC World News; and Fareed Zakaria, Host, Fareed Zakaria GPS, CNN.

Prime Minister, Volodymyr Groysman, began the meeting by sharing his view on the three key threats facing Ukraine, “I would say that populism is as big an evil as the Russian tanks and corruption. What we see now: people being killed, corruption in the Government administration system, oligarchisation, are all things caused by the fact that no-one considered how we would live tomorrow. Short-term political interests have guided policies and have made our country poor.”

Summarising the meeting, founder Victor Pinchuk asked moderators Stephen Sackur, Fareed Zakaria and Richard Hauss to list the top three risks facing the world. All three agreed on the potential danger of Donald Trump being elected President of the USA as the single most important threat facing democracy today, and added variously the situation in Syria and the Middle East, the rise of populism and the way in which current politics is fought on the basis of lies, and the threat posed by a Russia in decline.

In closing, former President of Poland, Aleksander Kwaśniewski, told the audience that our biggest global problem is not change as such but the difficulty we have dealing with change. He went on to say that in his view, the rise of populism is the last fight against globalization, opining that although some populist movements want to reverse globalization they will not be able to. He went on to say that the situation in Ukraine is a test for the world, a test of how much we will fight for the notion of democracy – and he finished up by saying, “Kiev is a strong part of Europe, and even of the European Union and may indeed be the future of the European Union.”

Some of the other headlines coming out of the day’s debates were:

  • “Ukraine has fantastic potential but we have to be realistic: it will not attract investors unless the conditions are right. Get rid of the regulations and we will put more in, I promise!"
    President and Executive Director of Vitol, Ian Taylor

  • “Ukraine is disappointed with its elite because it has not been developing. Ukraine is at war with Russia but, in my opinion, the Ukrainian elite mostly share the same values as those in Russia. They have very little in common with Europeans and Americans. They have the same mansions in Koncha-Zaspa as Russians do in Rublevka.”
    Head of the Odessa state regional administration, Mikheil Saakashvili

  • “What I would like to see is a reform like those carried out in East Germany, in Estonia and Georgia: those countries were bold and sacked all their prosecutors and judges. This enabled them to completely change their judicial systems. Ukraine has enough young, honest, good, lawyers to take the place of these people.”
    Resident senior fellow of the Atlantic Council, Anders Aslund

  • “I’m not sure you get to buy stability in the Middle East by sacrificing Ukraine.”
    Fareed Zakaria, Host, Fareed Zakaria GPS, CNN

  • “To the Ukrainian elite you are either an enemy or a slave. There is no political will for reform, but will enough to attack those who want reform.”
    Mustafa Nayyem, Ukrainian MP and Journalist

You can find out more about the discussions behind these at: http://yes-ukraine.org/en/news

The official Twitter of the 13th YES Annual Meeting is @yes_ukraine, and participants and followers can include the hashtag: #YESUkraine2016.

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Closing Remarks


Global vision: threats, innovations, economy


Changing elites in Ukraine

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