Presidential Elections in Ukraine

Presidential Elections in Ukraine
2019-05-20 KKI

On the 2nd of May the Institute for Foreign Affairs and Trade hosted a roundtable discussion entitled ,,Presidental Elections in Ukraine”. During the event both the domestic- and foreign policy aspects of the elections were touched upon.

The panelists were Tibor Fehér Ukraine–expert, former diplomat at the Embassy of Hungary in Kyiv, Balázs Jarábik, visiting researcher at Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and Mihály Tóth, retired senior research fellow at the Ukranian National Academy of Sciences. The event was moderated by Máté Szalai, senior research fellow at IFAT.

In the first part the elections and its subsequent domestic political situation were in focus. The main conclusion was that the result of the election reflects the disappointment of the Ukranian people. This ,,general feeling of disapointment” – in Poroshenko, in the previous system, also in the development of the economy – has created a situation in which Volodymyr Zelensky could beat the traditional political elite, because he was the one, that could give the majority of social groups a feeling to believe that change is feasible. The set up of the new parliament next autumn was also mentioned, and here it was agreed that Poroshenko and the national side will remain a determining factor, and Zelensky will really need to find coalition partners.

The second part of the roundtable–discussion was driven to the field of foreign policy: the standpoints of Moscow, the V4 and the Hungarian–Ukrainian relations. It could be seen from the discussion that Moscow doesn’t really know what to do with the newly elected president, because it did not count on his victory at all, however there is also a possibility of the settlement/freezing of the East–Ukranian conflict, and that can have a very positive impact not just on the Ukrainian–Russian, but also on Ukrainian–EU relations. In the case of Hungarian–Ukrainian relations, Mihály Tóth noted that improvement can only be achieved by the strenghtening of personal connections, as traditional solutions between the two countries have never worked.

The event ended with the questions of the audience: the experts pointed out that the oligarchs won’t disappear from the political life in the country, but Zelensky is willing to agree with them, or at least this is the most probable scenario. In the field of foreign policy, Tibor Fehér, Balázs Jarábik and Mihály Tóth agreed that Donbass is still not a frozen conflict, and the Chinese have no serious interests in Ukraine.