Auditing foreign policy: successes and failures of Ukraine through eyes of experts

Author : eurointegration .com

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For foreigners corruption and delaying reforms – is the problem №1, while among Ukrainian respondents only one gave this answer. Answers of experts have shown that Ukraine - is the case when in order to change the world, we must start with ourselves.
10:30, 29 December 2016

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World Policy Institute made a survey among 102 experts in international affairs from 30 countries (including Ukraine) about their vision of foreign policy of our country.

It was interesting not only to gather expert opinions, but also to compare how foreign policy of Ukraine looks from inside of the country and abroad. We asked five open questions:

1. What do you think is the main problem of Ukraine's foreign policy?

2. What are the main achievements of Ukraine's foreign policy (if any)?

3. What global trends will have the greatest impact on Ukraine in the near future?

4. Where Ukraine could make the greatest contribution to the global / regional challenges?

5. Foreign policy of many countries is based on a particular doctrine. What could be the vision of Ukraine's foreign policy?

So what are the expert opinions on these questions?

Main problems

The opinion of foreign and Ukrainian experts coincides in the fact that lack of strategy and aggression of Russia against Ukraine are the main foreign policy issues. And for the same time foreigners mentioned that exactly the internal problems, delaying of reforms and corruption in the country remain the major challenges for foreign policy. Ukrainians consider the top problems of Ukraine’s foreign policy weakness of diplomatic corps and lack of ambassadors in key countries.

Major achievements

Both Ukrainian and foreign experts believe the main achievements of the state solidarity of the West in supporting Ukraine, the recognition of the annexation of Crimea by Russia and Association Agreement with the EU. Foreigners also noted as success the clear course towards European integration, and Ukrainians - maintaining sanctions against Russia.

Trends that will affect Ukraine

There is also a consensus. The main trends are - the election results in the US, the weakening of consolidation within the EU and the spreading of euroscepticism.

The largest contribution to the global / regional challenges

According to this point we have the biggest difference in the results of a survey in answers of foreign and Ukrainian experts.

For foreigners, the added value - is Ukraine itself as a model of positive transformations. In other words an example of implementing reforms and fighting corruption. Ukrainians are mostly inclined to think that the main benefit of Ukraine to the world - in deterring aggression of Russia, including at the global level.

The main problems of Ukraine's foreign policy

According to foreign experts, the top 3 main problems of Ukraine's foreign policy are:

1. Domestic policy, namely carrying out reforms and fighting corruption (so consider 42% of foreign experts);

2. Conflict with Russia (30%);

3. The lack of foreign policy strategy, the constant ambiguity in relations with the EU and NATO (18%).

Also among the problems they named Ukraine’s negative image (15%) and lack of effective communication and public diplomacy (13%).

The survey revealed that even some experts believe the Russian propaganda myths about Ukraine.

For example, some seriously considers the problem growing popularity of right-wing forces in Ukraine. Moreover, according to experts surveyed, Ukrainian diplomats not always clearly present their position on the annexation of Crimea and eastern Ukraine conflict.

Among other weaknesses of Ukraine's foreign policy experts named a dependency on the support of the West; inability to convince Western leaders / lack of lobbying of their interests; fatigue from Ukraine; the necessity of establishing bilateral relations with its neighbors and partners; lack of qualified personnel; the need to counter Russian propaganda; deadlock in the Minsk negotiation process.

Ukrainian experts believe that things are fundamentally different. The main problems of Ukraine's foreign policy, according to them, are:

  1. Lack of systems, strategies and priorities.

    This opinion was shared by half of the experts surveyed. In addition, one in ten mentioned reactivity instead of pro-activity, and 7% think that Ukraine lacks of subjectivity in international relations.
  2. Weak diplomatic corps and especially the lack of ambassadors in key countries (43%, other 7% - lack of professionalism in general).
  3. The aggression of Russia against Ukraine and security issues (23%).

And only regarding the last question Ukrainian idea is partly concurring with the position of foreign respondents.

And fundamentally different are the visions of the link between internal reforms and successes in foreign policy.

For foreigners corruption and delaying reforms – is the problem №1, while among Ukrainian respondents only one gave this answer. Approximately every tenth named one of the following problems: the divergence of interests of state leaders, political elite and civil society; financial problems of the diplomatic service; lack of strategic communication (both with domestic and international audience), inability to communicate their position and the inability to combine their interests and the interests of others / take into account the development of the world and the region.

Incomplete ratification of the Association Agreement with the EU and the slow implementation as well, according to experts, negatively affect Ukraine's foreign policy. Some noted among the problems institutional weakness.

Major achievements of Ukraine's foreign policy

On this issue, the experts were not unanimous.

Foreign experts attribute the greatest achievements in the foreign policy of Ukraine with cooperation with the West. All of this – are the events of last three years:

  1. Solidarity among European countries / West to support Ukraine and recognize the annexation of Crimea (35%);

    2. Signing of the Association Agreement with the EU (18%);

    3. Clear focus on European integration (11%).

Contrary to many experts who see the conflict with Russia as the main problem, they also believe that Ukraine has shown some progress in this area. In particular, 10% of respondents consider as achievement sanctions against Russia, 10% - Normandy / Minsk talks, 8% - saving state, 7% - stop of Russian aggression. Only 4% of respondents believe that our achievement is clear orientation towards integration into NATO, another 6% - good relations with the organization.

Some respondents called achievements relations with partners: Germany, Poland, Romania, Baltic countries, USA and preservation interest of West to Ukraine, in particular, to the war in Donbas (6-7% of the experts), and relations with the World Trade Organization. Some also called achievements support from Japan, Canada and Sweden.

It is significant that some experts have noted as achieving recognition of independence of Ukraine from the international community (including rooting of this idea in mental maps of citizens of other countries).

Indeed, 25 years ago Ukraine's independence was not so obvious.

Also Ukrainian experts almost completely agree with the foreign in the vision of the main achievements of Ukraine on the international arena.

  1. International support and solidarity in countering Russian aggression (43%, for comparison - among foreign respondents it is 35%).
  2. Sanctions against Russia (27% of Ukrainians, about 10% of foreigners).
  3. The signing of the Association Agreement (17% of Ukrainians and almost the same per cent of foreigners).

Some respondents appreciate the support and cooperation with NATO (13%), the strengthening of European integration, and increased military cooperation with its neighbors (particularly in the Baltic-Black Sea region), presence in the international arena, participating in international organizations). One in ten named among the achievements a certain level of Ukraine’s subjectivity, particularly in Norman and the Minsk negotiations, relations with the EU and NATO.

Global trends with the largest impact on Ukraine

Foreign experts identified the following trends that will have the greatest impact on Ukraine. Key trends related to EU, US and Russia.

       1. Elections in USA / president elect Donald Trump (one third of surveyed).

       2. The disintegration of the EU / Brexit (same number).

       3. The unpredictability or regime change in Russia.

A quarter of respondents believe that Ukraine would be affected by the spreading of populism (which is also associated with Brexit and electing Trump).

The conflict in the Middle East, and the associated reduction of attention to Ukraine also are the part of top 5 major trends that will affect the state (so says nearly one of five). 7% said that the crisis of refugees will affect Ukraine, and another 7% mentioned terrorism.

13% called among the trends rising popularity of nationalist, far-right parties and the Putin-understanders. 8% indicated in the list effect of changes in prices for oil and gas.

However, few respondents said that elections in France and Germany, a potential rapprochement of the West and Russia, the economic problems in the EU and strengthening the position of China will significantly influence Ukraine.

Now compare the estimates of Ukrainian experts. They identified the most influential trends as follows:

1. Elections in the United States, Donald Trump as president;

2. Euroscepticism and weakening of consolidation in the European Union.

Every second Ukrainian respondent supported the points 1-2, in which they agree with foreign experts.

Only 13% of Ukrainian experts believe that changes in Russia will affect Ukraine.

Development of Ukraine, according to respondents, will be linked with regional security transformation, conflicts between the East and West, the change of the ruling elites in key EU countries. Among the purely economic reasons – are the instability of global markets of raw materials (steel, agriculture, etc.).

The conflicts in other countries, the instability in the Middle East and Asia as a whole can divert attention from the Ukrainian question - so says tenth of the respondents. Also, one in five shared the view that migration crisis will affect Ukraine.

Ukrainian experts more than foreign, tend to consider the development of China and the East Asian region as well as the economic project of China (these trends named about 20% of respondents).

The largest contribution to the global / regional challenges

According to foreign experts, the best thing that Ukraine could do for the world - is to solve internal problem, that is to carry out reforms (38% of respondents). Answers of experts have shown that Ukraine - is the case when in order to change the world, we must start with ourselves.

Successful Ukraine can have the greatest impact in the region, particularly in the field of security (20% of respondents), will become an example for Russia (10%) and in the Black Sea region (13%), will help to stabilize the situation in the former Soviet space (7%), will affect to strengthen the EU and Europe as a whole (15%) and to strengthen ties between the countries of the Eastern partnership (3%).

Every tenth respondent believes that Ukraine’s added value is in confronting Russia, 7% - to participate in the Minsk process and establishing relations with Russia, and 5% - in opposition to propaganda.

Some experts believe that Ukraine can affect the resolution of conflicts in other states, Transnistria (7-8% of respondents). 7% of the experts believe that the state can contribute to reconciliation of East and West, stabilization of relations between Russia and the EU.

But the views on this question of Ukrainian and foreign experts differ most.

Ukrainians believe that Ukraine’s mission – is a containment of Russia, in particular, from expansion in Europe. One in ten also believes that Russia opposes Ukraine at the global level.

The fifth part is convinced that Ukraine can contribute to strengthening regional stability and security.

Also, unlike foreigners, almost every fifth Ukrainian respondents shared the view that Ukraine could help solve the global food crisis.

One tenth of respondents are inclined to believe that Ukraine contributes to strengthening security in Europe and the world, affects the new architecture of security and the fight against terrorism and in peacekeeping.

Slightly fewer of those polled experts believe that Ukraine can be a model for other post-Soviet countries, have a positive impact on the population of Russia. As foreign experts, Ukrainians emphasize the positive role of the state in peacekeeping operations.

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