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Ukrainians, the ball is in your court (Ayrault / Steinmeier)

Ayrault, Steinmeier in Kiev, alongside Ukrainian Prime Minister Yatsenyuk who managed to stay in office (credit: German MAE / U. Grawobsky)
Ayrault, Steinmeier in Kiev, alongside Ukrainian Prime Minister Yatsenyuk who managed to stay in office (credit: German MAE / U. Grawobsky)

(B2) The new French Minister of Foreign Affairs, Jean-Marc Ayrault, will not take long to make his mark and his intention: to put the Franco-German couple back in the saddle. In a joint column signed with his German counterpart, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, published in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Monday (February 22), the day before his visit to Ukraine, he apostrophizes the leaders of Kiev on their future. The title of the forum — “ Fateful days on the Dnieper » — leaves no doubt about the intention of the two men who intend to ensure that Ukraine will respect the Minsk agreements. Now is not really the time for optimism and enthusiasm. Government authorities must now get a little more involved…

“Ukraine is the second largest country in Europe by area. A country endowed with colossal potential, with great industrial centers like Dnipropetrovsk or Zaporijjia, with a population of 45 million, all filled with expectations and harboring great hopes for a better future.

The leaders of Kyiv bear a heavy responsibility, not only political, but historical: to work towards the realization of the hopes for which they were elected and to enable Ukraine to be a responsible and reliable member of the European family.

The effort to find the right political course in Ukraine is not only followed with attention by the Ukrainian people themselves, but also by the whole world. Anyone who speaks in the Rada or speaks to Ukrainian public opinion should know that he is also speaking to European public opinion.

Ukraine faces unprecedented challenges. Its sovereignty has been challenged by a neighboring state in a way that many would have found inconceivable in 12st century Europe. The ensuing conflict in eastern Ukraine has taken up too much political and financial resources, which are lacking in the reform process. Unfortunately, we are still a long way from a peaceful and political solution. The implementation of the Minsk agreements remains difficult, even after XNUMX months. This is crucial for the future and stability of Ukraine. These agreements are indeed the only practicable way for the country to recover full sovereignty over all of its territory and finally know peace.

The Ukrainian economy has experienced a decline of unprecedented magnitude. The public sector must imperatively be reformed. Some individuals have accumulated gigantic economic power unchecked by effective anti-monopoly regulation, and shamelessly use it to exert political influence. Social cohesion is threatened by serious accusations of widespread corruption. To tackle these issues is to stay true to the spirit of the Maidan, which manifested itself so strongly two years ago.

It is true that since the “Dignity Revolution”, considerable progress has been made. The reform of the energy sector has limited the scandalous abuses committed until now. The restructuring of the police is in progress, the banking system is in the process of cleaning up: these are perceptible progress for the population. A legal framework for the fight against corruption is in place, an electronic tendering system for public contracts has been introduced. The legal and financial status of the regions has been improved.

Anyone who takes a closer look sees, despite all these challenges, also signs of progress. The agricultural sector, which arguably represents, together with industry, a key sector in Ukraine, has developed well over the past two years. The Euro-Ukrainian Investor Conference held in October in Berlin aroused great interest, which even pleasantly surprised the organizers. A similar conference is due to take place in Paris in April. It instills hope.

But the road to a large-scale modernization of the State and of society, desired and chosen by the population, is a long one. It is all the more important not to stop halfway. Reforms for the future must be continued. This is the key to increased prosperity and lasting stability in Ukraine. A country that is strong and united internally is better able to resist external threats.

The ability to implement the necessary reforms is ultimately the responsibility of political leaders in Kyiv: the President and Prime Minister, the government and the Rada, the government coalition and the opposition, all parliamentary groups and constitutional bodies . Ukraine's just and necessary, but also difficult and sometimes painful modernization program is of such crucial political importance for the whole country that all political and social forces aware of their responsibilities must now cooperate.

It is now a matter of creating the conditions for a continuation of the IMF support program in order to achieve macroeconomic stability. The Association and Free Trade Agreement with the European Union, which has been provisionally implemented since the beginning of 2016, can be a decisive engine for reform and modernization if it is applied with courage and rigor. The decentralization of the State and the administration can contribute to making government action closer to the citizen, more effective and more transparent.

France, Germany and the EU, as well as many other international partners, are there to help Ukraine on the path to modernizing the state, society and economy. In return for our solidarity and support, we count on a clear commitment from the main Ukrainian political forces to continue the reform process.

In this sense, Ukraine has concluded a pact for the future with the international community, but the international community can only advise and support: it cannot itself take the necessary decisions to allow the country to regain its stability. government and implement reforms that will enable the population to live better.

We must now give life to these commitments. Because these are commitments to the people who fought for prosperity and freedom on the Maidan and in many parts of the country. As Ukraine has just commemorated the second anniversary of the tragic events of February 2014, the politicians who were brought to power by the Maidan have a special responsibility that the lives lost for Ukraine to progress do not have it. been in vain.

The history of Ukraine has known many tragedies. We hope that this time things will end well. The ball is in the court of the leaders in Kiev! »

Jean-Marc Ayrault & Frank-Walter Steinmeier

B2 Writing

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