The Institute for Foreign Affairs and Trade held a roundtable-discussion titled „Political and Economic Reforms in Ukraine as a window of cooperation with EU” on 20 November where Sergiy Solodkyy, the First Deputy Director of the New Europe Center, Yehor Kyian, analyst of the International Centre for Policy Studies participated alongside with Sándor Ackermann, analyst of the Institute for Foreign Affairs and Trade. The event started with the director of IFAT, Márton Ugrósdy’s welcome speech, then the two guest lecturers discussed their opinions on the cooperation between the European Union and Ukraine, while also answering Sándor Ackermann’s questions. Following the lecture, the two guest lecturers also answered questions raised by the audience.
After the welcoming speech, Sándor Ackermann shortly talked about this year’s election in Ukraine, highlighting the challenges in front of the new government. In his later questions, he specifically asked about the reform plans and the relations between the European Union and Ukraine.
Sergiy Solodkyy said that Ukraine is committed to the EU and NATO, as a possible candidate for membership. For this reason, the country has already started adopting the NATO standards in its military. But for a deeper cooperation with these international organisations, they would have to find a resolution for the Donbass situation. To handle this challenge, Ukraine, alongside Russia, France and Germany, had created the Normandy Format: this helped in temporary agreements, but they couldn’t reach a permanent one. The next meeting is planned to be held on the 9th of December in France. Solodkyy continued to talk about the problems connected to the armed conflict in Eastern Ukraine; according to him, the problem is that Ukraine had already made huge concessions, whereas Russia wasn’t willing to take steps to meet halfaway to reach a compromise. He also spoke about the reform plans of the new government and its aim to decrease corruption. He mentioned surveys about the high percentage of Ukrainians who support the possibility of both the EU and NATO membership. He also emphasized that the new Ukrainian president is popular, which is an ideal situation for the reform plans to go through.
Yehir Kyian first highlighted the importance of the relations betweeen Ukraine and Hungary, then continued that Hungary is one of the main supporters of the possible Ukrainian membership in the EU. The two neighbouring countries have a strong economic cooperation, and it could be further improved specifically in the energy sector. The economist continued with the decreasing importance of Russia in Ukraine’s trade sector in the last years and the difficulties of trade in the common market of the EU as a non-member state: to ease these difficulties, Ukraine aims to apply the EU standards. The expert furthermore analysed the effects of the Crimean situation to the economy of Ukraine. Although Eastern Ukraine was responsible for a large percentage of the GDP, the other regions did not suffered a drawback, moreover, the Ukrainian economy has shown growth in the last years. Finally, Kyian talked about the reform plans of the government, escpecially the possiblities of the privatization.
At the end of the event, the two guest speakers answered the questions of the audience. These included the impacts of the Eastern Ukrainian situation, including its effects on the relations between Ukraine and other countries. Outside of the foreign relations, there were questions aimed at the reform plans and how they would affect the country’s economy.