Stepping up for friends: Ukraine at the 2022 GLOBSEC Bratislava Forum and beyond
Ukraine and Eastern Europe Programme, GLOBSEC
The recent 2022 Bratislava Forum thematic concentration on Ukraine is fully in line with GLOBSEC’s strong commitment to supporting its citizens in their struggle for freedom, security and European choice.
As Founder and President of GLOBSEC Robert Vass acknowledged in his opening speech at the Forum, people in Ukraine “are dying and paying the highest price for values that we have taken for granted.” Fully aware that the future of the West is being decided now in the East, “GLOBSEC is trying to do whatever it can to support Ukraine.”
Ukraine Agenda: Freedom, Security and European Future
To demonstrate GLOBSEC’s commitment, the agenda of the Forum had an abundance of high-level discussions with multiple senior Ukrainians politicians led by President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, that looked to address the country’s immediate and long-term needs, as well as prospects of a better future.
President Zelensky’s vision was complemented and elevated with further interventions from a cross-section of Ukrainian decision-makers. They included speeches by Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal, Deputy Prime Minister for European and Euro-Atlantic Integration Olha Stefanishyna, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Digital Transformation Mykhailo Fedorov, Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba, Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov, Deputy Minister of Economy Taras Kachka,multiple mayors and a governor from war-torn Ukrainian cities and key members of the Ukrainian parliament.
The two most critical needs identified by every Ukrainian speaker were sufficient supplies of heavy weapons to defend the country and EU candidate status to recognize its Europeanaspirations. The speedy supply of heavy weapons is crucial for Ukraine’s resistance, given Russia’s multiple superiority in artillery, multiple launch rocket systems and military aviation.
Although Western allies have already pledged a significant portion of the weapons requested by Ukraine, their rapid delivery remains a work in progress. Their constant delay costs Ukraine numerous losses among military and civilians, as well as massive infrastructure damage. To rectify the current on the ground situation, faster decision-making and proper coordination between the supplying countries and expedited procedures of weapons provision are needed. A fact that was re-iterated by all the speakers.
At the same time, securing EU membership candidate status is no less critical for Ukraine’s victory over Russia. Attaining this status will signify an unequivocal placement of the country as a part of the European family of nations, provide a soft geopolitical security guarantee against Moscow’s neo-imperialist ambitions, and strengthen Ukraine’s position at possible peace negotiations with Russia. Recognition of Ukraine by the EU as a part of the European cultural, political and economic space will potentially force Russia, still dependent economically on the EU, to curb its aggression against a member of the EU family. Kyiv views the candidate statusas a deserved token and much-needed injection of moral support to Ukrainians, who continue todefend European values but suffer from battle exhaustion. Starting the accession process will provide a platform to streamline Ukraine’s post-war recovery and modernization processes following the EU framework in the future. Furthermore, Ukraine’s candidate status will also send a reassuring message to private investors, whose involvement in Ukraine’s reconstruction and economic revival is equally as important as donor grants and loans.
Ukrainian speakers stressed the importance of further increasing the economic pressure and punishment on Russia. They expect expansion and adoption of the Seventh EU package of sanctions as well as the establishment of a proper mechanism for monitoring compliance with them. Kyiv also seeks support for establishing the International War Tribunal to prosecute Russian war crimes and crimes against humanity. It should be noted that since Russia is not a part of the Rome Statute, there is a need for alternative mechanisms for prosecuting its war criminals.
Economy: Urgent Needs and Grand Reconstruction
Discussion of Ukraine’s economic needs drew no less attention at the Forum than security-related issues. With an estimated 600 bln USD of Ukraine’s total economic losses due to the war, the need for continued financial support to maintain a functional state and keep the economy afloat is imperative.
Specifically, Ukraine needs funding and in-kind assistance for the most pressing restoration works and humanitarian needs, such as the demining of de-occupied territories, restoring light, gas, and water provision where damaged, repairing roads and other critical infrastructure,restoring damaged houses and providing housing for thousands of people who are homeless. The scale of the humanitarian needs is also towering, which includes, but is not limited to, providing food assistance to IDPs and people in the war zone or de-occupied and highly damaged areas, enhancing medical care and rehabilitation capacities for the wounded military and civilians.
To help satisfy some of these needs, Ukraine has recently established the “United2”fundraising initiative, designed as a key channel to raise funds for Ukraine’s defence, humanitarian and recovery needs, with further plans to expand the use of this platform to other global emergencies. However, as the initiative remains in its nascent stage, it needs strong promotional support to generate a constant flow of donations.
Ukraine utilizes both regional and parametric approaches to national reconstruction. The regional approach envisages that foreign countries, cities, or international corporations pledge to help with the restoration efforts of specific Ukrainian cities or regions. It is encouraging to see that several countries have already committed to contributing. For example, Greece has offeredsupport to Odesa, Italy counts to help Mariupol, the UK focuses on Kyiv and the Kyiv region, Denmark partners with the Mykolayiv region, and Estonia is willing to help the Zhytomyr region.
The National Council leads the parametric approach for the Recovery of Ukraine, which develops the parameters of reconstruction and transformation for each sector of the economy in line with the EU standards. Further advocacy and networking could bring more fruitful partnerships and better exchange of experience and innovative ideas for regional and parametric approaches.
Another pressing economic need is international assistance in unblocking Ukrainian portsallowing for the exportation of grain as well as other commercial products. Historically recognized as “the breadbasket of Europe”” Ukraine is unable to use its main export gateway −Black Sea ports − because of the Russian naval blockade. The resumption of maritime trade would not only help Ukraine generate much-needed income but would also allow the world to avoid an impending global food crisis.
Forum participants also discussed the general principles of post-war recovery and economic assistance to Ukraine. First, Ukraine should retain reconstruction ownership. Second, trusted accountability mechanisms for the use of recovery funds should be established. Third, Ukraine should not just repair what has been destroyed but instead build a modern country based on European principles of sustainability and climate neutrality. Fourth, the world needs to contribute to Ukraine’s recovery not only with financial assets but also with new technologies and innovative ideas. Fifth, linking rebuilding and EU accession reforms would be the most effective way to advance. Sixth, the recovery plan should cover the entirety of Ukraine and be implemented foremost on the community level, benefiting from Ukraine’s decentralization reform. Seventh, funding should come mostly in the form of grants and, to a lesser extent,concessional loans with a substantial grace period allowing Ukraine to pay back when economic growth starts. Eighth, it is important to attract private capital to rebuild the country and its economic revival. For this, trust in the judicial system and the rule of law are among the main prerequisites.
GLOBSEC delivers Immediate Support to Ukraine
Having provided a platform through the Bratislava Forum to bridge stakeholders from Ukraine and the larger international community, GLOBSEC is committed to facilitating Ukraine’simmediate and long-term needs and making them more visible.
To this aim, GLOBSEC seeks to establish the Ukraine EU Accession Hub that will provideanalysis, advice and advocacy for Ukraine’s further EU integration efforts. Whatever the June European Council decision regarding Ukraine’s candidate status, GLOBSEC will continue its efforts to promote the effective use of integration and accession mechanisms for Ukraine, taking into account the best practices of the relevant experience of Slovakia and other Central European countries.
GLOBSEC will also launch the Ukraine Innovation Hub, designed around several vectors to support Ukraine’s commitment to modernize their country. These include but are not limited tocontributions to shaping Ukraine’s vision of the future by:
• organizing relevant discussions and bringing global thinkers and leaders in innovative development;
• facilitating innovation in the sphere of energy efficiency and renewable energy development in line with Ukraine’s European integration commitments and the EU Green Deal;
• organizing events on the innovative rebuilding of Ukraine with a discussion of IT and industrial parks establishment in Ukraine to meet modernisation needs and boost employment;
• advocate for and attract financial support to small and medium businesses in Ukraine, to leverage local resources and regenerate the local economy;
• facilitating partnerships between Ukrainian universities, notably those based outside of them, and their Western counterparts to support innovative thinking and prevent brain drain.
With full respect to the added value of decentralization, the promotion of municipal partnerships between Ukrainian and EU/CE cities aimed at modernization of the latter through sharing of experience in innovative development, green and community-focused rebuilding, as well as fostering joint projects will be boosted.
Advocacy efforts will be directed at keeping Ukraine’s defence, humanitarian, andreconstruction needs high on the agenda of decision-makers in the EU, the UK and the US. GLOBSEC will work to mobilize international donor support to meet Ukraine’s urgent and long-term needs. This process kicked off at the Forum and will be an ongoing initiative for everyone involved.
Recognizing the strength of civil society in rebuilding the country and countering securitythreats, GLOBSEC will also render support to developing the think-tank network aimed to secure the needs of Ukraine’s recovery and development.