Kersti Kaljulaid: Ukrainian authorities not yet recognizing problem of corruption

  • 2023-01-02
  • BNS/TBT Staff

TALLINN – Diplomaatia, a magazine published by the International Center for Defense and Security, published a comment by Kersti Kaljulaid in the last issue of the year ended, in which the former president of Estonia writes about the problem of corruption, which the Ukrainian government is still refusing to acknowledge.

"The current Ukrainian government rather does not admit publicly or even among friends that they still have a corruption problem. And they obviously hope that human compassion will make the EU turn a blind eye, because they have died for us," Kaljulaid writes, adding that it is easy to go along with this way of thinking emotionally.

According to Kaljulaid, the task of true friends of Ukraine is to help understand that the EU accession process is, in fact, also a good opportunity to clean up the system -- it helps Ukraine to ensure both a long-term flow of international investments and rapid economic convergence.

"However, all this will not happen if the victory on the war front remains the only victory of the Ukrainian people," Kaljulaid writes. "Victory over oneself, over the patterns that have been ingrained from the grassroots up, does not come easily. From a veterinary certificate to winning a public procurement -- after all, everything has to be paid for."

By continuing the old way, there is a risk that Ukraine will again lose a clear goal and may face the fate of Georgia: voluntarily, through more or less free elections, giving up on the complex establishment of the rule of law and thereby sinking back into deepening cooperation with countries that do not mind such a way of doing business.

Kaljulaid stresses in her writing that only a constant fight against corruption and a clear path to building the rule of law will help Ukraine get closer to the countries that Ukrainians want to be among.

"In the long term, we must have the patience to participate in the reconstruction of Ukraine and its development into a rule of law with a low level of corruption," Kaljulaid writes, adding that this is likely possible.

"But for this, the continuation of reconstruction aid beyond the humanitarian disaster elimination mission must be dependent on institutional development. The countries of the world would be wise to observe how the European Commission evaluates Ukraine's progress on the scale of building the rule of law and link their support to the progress. Because one day Ukraine must join the EU -- it deserves it. It has earned this right at the front," she adds.

Kaljulaid explains in her writing that the reconstruction aid directed to Ukraine must at some point be replaced by normal investment activities. Until now, international banks -- such as the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) -- were the only foreign investors that could operate in Ukraine without problems, because no one dared to touch their investments. However, other foreign investors had to bear risks that made long-term investments impossible.

"Oligarchs, who tended to pull the wool over people's eyes. A judicial system, where the one who was more important and stronger won, not justice. The decision-makers of state institutions, who were eager to be business partners," Kaljulaid writes, listing Ukraine's problems.

However, Ukraine needs normal international cooperation at all levels, including, for example, the money and ideas of Estonian, Polish and German small and medium-sized enterprises -- an economic environment the likes of which Estonia has enjoyed for 30 years. At the same time, Kaljulaid admits that even in Estonia, work needs to be done every day to fight clientelism -- the exchange of goods and services for obtaining political support.