Growing Pains

KIEV, Ukraine -- As Ukraine prepares to celebrate Independence Day it finds itself no longer at the infancy stage but firmly in its teens, though full adulthood is still at least a few years away.


That is probably an accurate assessment of the last 15 years. Ukraine had a rocky, unsure start as it began the 1990s with two Leonids - Kravchuk followed by Kuchma - at the helm.

It sees in the start of its 16th with two Viktors - Yushchenko and Yanukovych - steering the country. At the beginning of independence many ordinary folk were confident, buoyed by the feeling that resources-rich Ukraine would do better as an independent state as the Soviet Union imploded and the referendum on independence received the unanimous support of people in December 1991.

Kravchuk experienced huge inflation and Kuchma, promising reforms, found that, like many other politicians, it is easier to promise than deliver. He brought Ukraine some stability but was too busy playing off the European Union and Russia on the foreign front and magnates and businesses on the home front.

Viktor Yushchenko fought Viktor Yanukovych for the presidency and won only for the latter to complete a remarkable return by returning as prime minister with more powers than the president. Fifteen years on, and less than two years after the Orange Revolution, people's expectations have been tempered and, unfortunately, a level of realism and sense of "stability", a word used unsparingly during the Kuchma era, have set in.

However, there is no doubt that Ukraine has made progress in many respects. Economically, much needs to be done but the mass media is now freer and the political system is moving, albeit slowly, towards greater responsibility.

There is a plethora of political forces out there, giving the voter a wide choice of ideology, even if the majority of the main players hail from the Communist era and these forces do not resemble apparent counterparts in the West.

Perhaps more importantly a responsive civil society is being formed, thanks in part to the Orange Revolution. People now feel more confident about standing up for their rights.

Many thrifty business people, working mainly in small and medium-sized companies created from scratch, are thriving. However, it has to be said that progress by entrepreneurs has largely been despite and not due to the efforts of the authorities over 15 years.

Many people have been weaned off looking to the state to provide for them from "the cradle to the grave", as was the case in Soviet times. A middle class is forming and as society becomes more stratified the danger exists that unless an adequate social security system is put into place society will be divided even more into “the haves and have nots”.

Such social protection is vital during the lengthy transition from a command economy to one based on free market lines. Though it can be said that Ukrainian society is now more meritocratic than before much still needs to be done to give people in rural areas the opportunity and means to at least compete on a level playing field.

Cosy relationships and arrangements need to be challenged. A start could be made from the very top by ensuring MPs and their relatives declare all their interests, business or otherwise.

Business and politics have still not been separated. The countryside has been neglected by all governments and parties of every political color, despite promises to invest in the infrastructure.

Many big problems still exist – ubiquitous corruption and business monopolies are just two. Excessive, pointless bureaucracy is a third. It could be argued that time and opportunities have been squandered by politicians in moving the country ahead.
However, for all that Ukraine is now firmly on the world map.

No longer is it known just because of Dynamo Kyiv, Chornobyl or the latest scandal. Now it is known in the world for successful people like Ruslana, the Klitshcko brothers and Andriy Shevchenko.

It is known for quality products like its steel, the Ruslan plane and the Kolchuga radar system. It is known for the Carpathian Mountains, Crimea and wildlife reserves like the Aakania-Nova Biosphere Reserve.

Perhaps what Ukraine needs more than anything is a new and youthful generation of politicians to move it on over the next 15 years.

Perhaps then Ukraine will be able to make a qualitative big step to fulfill the hopes and dreams of those who voted for independence back in 1991.

Source: Kyiv Post

Comments

Anonymous said…
sir

as a citizen of eu i enjoy your bloggs

but ukraine faces

one million h.i.v ...aids sufferers

with little medical assistance

2 half a million homeless children

3 children dying slowly in death camp orphanages in ukraine

if ukraine is a teenager its 13 years old...orphan
Anonymous said…
sir

as a citizen of eu i enjoy your bloggs

but ukraine faces

one million h.i.v ...aids sufferers

with little medical assistance

2 half a million homeless children

3 children dying slowly in death camp orphanages in ukraine

if ukraine is a teenager its 13 years old...orphan