“Do not use a stick, just show it…”
Representatives of international institutions expressed their attitude towards the reform and gave advice to Ukrainians at the Forum of Local Self-Government.
By Dmytro Synyak
The Forum of Local Self-Government, which is currently taking place in the capital, traditionally summarises the progress of the decentralisation reform and draws a road map of future changes. But since the forum involves the President, the Heads of Government and the Parliament, the words of the representatives of the donor and international institutions fall into the background and are often lost in the general news flow. Meanwhile, these words are very important, because, firstly, they reflect the degree of support of Ukraine by the international community, and secondly, they contain specific advice that is not veiled by one or another political stance. That is why decentralisation.gov.ua decided to collect the most important statements of foreign speakers during this year’s Forum.
Hugues Mingarelli, Head of the EU Delegation to Ukraine:
“We know and we feel this whenever we are travelling to regions that for millions of Ukrainians the decentralisation process has had already positive impact on their living conditions. And we know that you have been able to carry out this reform under the most difficult circumstances: the war and the defense of territorial integrity of your country. So once again full praise for what has been carried out over the last four years. We know as well that it would not have been possible to carry out this reform without the full commitment of the heads and deputy heads of the newly amalgamated hromadas, and I would like as well to express our deep appreciation for what you have been doing. On our side, the European Union, we are trying to share our experience when it comes to decentralisation through our U-LEAD Programme, which has been implemented now for almost four years with the support of a number of member states that I would like to mention: Denmark, Estonia, Germany, Poland and Sweden. And, in recognition of this very important effort, we have taken the decision to extend our U-LEAD with Europe Programme to ensure our support to decentralisation beyond 2019."
Pamela Tremont, Deputy Chief of Mission, U.S. Embassy in Ukraine:
“According to our research, Ukrainians generally like decentralisation and they have much trust in the new local authorities. During recent trips to Ukraine, US Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch saw in her own eyes how the life of people in amalgamated hromadas is changing for the better. For example, in the Kiptivska AH of the Chernihiv Oblast, we saw improvement in land allocation. And in the Pechenizhynska AH in the Ivano-Frankivsk Oblast, we witnessed how active participation of hromada residents in hromada life contributed to solving waste problem... The most important thing for the United States is that decentralisation is an opportunity for people to live the way they want, creating prosperity on the ground. Therefore, I thank you for your work and for building a decent life for the new generations...”.
Claudia Luciani, Director of the Human Dignity, Equality and Governance Directorate, the Council of Europe:
“For the Council of Europe, as well as for Ukraine, the issue of decentralisation is very important. This is primarily a matter of democracy. And this is why the Council of Europe adopted the Charter of Local Self-Government. We have been actively helping Ukraine, and we will further allocate considerable resources to it – primarily professional and expert ones. We believe that democracy is based on a horisontal distribution of powers, that is why we support decentralisation in Ukraine. The balance between the powers of the central authorities and local self-government bodies is very important... From time to time we measure the level of citizens’ support of decentralisation, and we see that, in general, Ukrainians support it. Therefore, this reform must be continued. The Council of Europe will be happy to share its experience, helping the heads of local self-government in Ukraine organise working visits to various European countries. Also, the Council of Europe and the Venice Commission will always assist Ukraine in providing legal support to the reforms...”.
Georg Milbradt, Special Envoy of the Government of the Federal Republic of Germany for the Ukrainian reform in the areas of governance and decentralisation:
“The success of decentralisation became possible not only due to the Ukrainian Government, but also due to the local self-government leaders. It would be fair to emphasise their role in advancing the reform. However, I also want to draw attention to the fact that a quarter of Ukraine’s population still lives within the old model of the state, being in fact deprived of quality services. Therefore, I was very pleased by the statement of the Ukrainian authorities that the local elections in Ukraine in 2020 should take place on a new territorial basis. In the past, you used only a carrot for hromadas’ amalgamation. But the German experience is as follows: it is impossible to voluntarily amalgamate the whole territory of the state. Consequently, in the legislation, the term of voluntary amalgamation of hromadas should be limited. That is, no need to use a stick, but only show it. And this should be enough for the hromadas to amalgamate themselves... We also support the process of rayons’ consolidation. New rayons with new functions and new visions are needed. However, forming them, you must pay attention to demographics: on internal migration, on the aging of the population in rural areas and on the growth of large cities. Administrative-territorial reform should become one of the answers to this process. Another point. We live in a time of great technological change. And you need to understand today what will happen to hromadas and rayons tomorrow, and how the digitalisation process, IT development will affect them. That is another challenge you have to deal with...”.
Osnat Lubrani, UN Resident Coordinator, Humanitarian Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative in Ukraine:
“Ukrainian decentralisation is a very ambitious reform, and it primarily depends on the local self-government leaders. This is well understood by the United Nations Organisation, which is ready to support Ukraine. The UN, where your country is a member, aims to eliminate inequality and poverty, and stop the deterioration of the ecological situation on the planet. It is in this direction that we work in Ukraine – at the level of the UNICEF, the United Nations Development Programme, gender programmes, etc. Due to the work of the United Nations, many workplaces have been created in Ukrainian enterprises and cooperatives. We support the growth of women representation in the local government. In general, we have a large programme, and it is difficult to describe it in a short speech. Therefore, I just want to express my admiration for Ukrainians who have so many leaders and innovators.”
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