Last week, the president of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, and European Council President Donald Tusk, took part in a 24-hour summit in Kiev with Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko.
What came out of the meeting is how deeply concerned Juncker and Tusk are about the rising level of corruption in the Ukraine.
Of course, corruption is not a local Ukrainian specialty, but an endemic and global phenomenon – there is no country on the planet that is immune.
In some countries, corruption levels are very low. In other countries, it’s a phenomenon that has taken on dramatic proportions.
In general, corruption is directly linked to democracy. The more corruption there is, the less democracy the citizens enjoy. Indeed, today’s illiberal and authoritarian republics and kingdoms are champions of corruption.
Paradigms generally reveal how many modern-day social ills, such as jihadism terrorism, human trafficking, slave trade and the smuggling of illegal goods, are closely related to corruption.
Turning to the Ukraine and the summit in Kiev, it is important to understand that Europe wants to help Ukraine.
Russia’s aggressiveness, on the one hand, and the citizens’ desire to be part of the European Union, on the other hand, make the Ukrainian Republic’s European path imperative.
However, the mistakes of the past should be avoided.
In December 2013, EU leaders met with the heads of Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova, Ukraine and Lithuania.
At the Eastern Partnership Summit, the European future for countries that do not meet any of the EU’s criteria was enthusiastically declared. But their political reality has assured that, for many years, if not decades, these countries would remain as far away from the EU as possible.
The euphoria expressed by EU leaders was short lived. It was quickly proven that their political desire lacked any real, fundamental basis.
In addition, Russia invaded Ukraine and annexed Crimea.
Despite the many differences that divide all the above-mentioned countries, there is a common denominator – an issue they all have in common: corruption.
Political elites, oligarchs and members of organised crime rings constitute an impenetrable skein that works against democracy.
The mistakes made in 2013 should serve as lessons today. Of the above-mentioned countries, only one or two show signs they are trying to improve their status. These countries are the Ukraine and Georgia.
But Georgia is facing a problem that will continue in the future. Part of its territory is occupied by the Russian army.
Ukraine has been facing the same problem since Crimea was annexed by Russia, but the country shares borders with the EU. In addition, its territory is always threatened by Russia.
The only way to protect Ukraine and especially Ukrainians is to deepen relations of the republic with the European Union.
We must move fast. Already some important steps have been taken.
But corruption is still powerful in the country. Oligarchs still control political parties and economic activities. The Ukrainian citizens feel the inequality strongly.
European aid and European investments must be directed to the growth of the Ukrainian economy and not the enrichment of the few. The final receiver, the direct beneficiary, must be the citizen and not the oligarchs, the politicians or the local bosses.
It is for this reason the summit in Kiev was dominated by the serious concern that corruption is rife in Ukraine. And this concern was clearly expressed by both presidents, Juncker and Tusk.