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Representatives of foreign diplomatic, political and business circles have generally welcomed the first days of work of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine, the appointment of the new Cabinet of Ministers, and President’s legislative initiatives.
Experts close to the Office of UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson send a positive feedback to the results of the new Parliament’s first days. They note that the retention of posts by certain senior officials who were part of the previous government, as well as the appointment of several members of the new team who have “particularly warm” relations with the British side, will have a positive effect on bilateral relations.
The appointment of Vadym Prystaio Head of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine is particularly praised. According to British experts, this should maintain at at the high level further communication with Ukraine’s new leadership in all key areas.
Representatives of the political and diplomatic circles in France note that their leadership noted the considerable credit of trust in President and the new Parliament on the part of the Ukrainian public. They also expects from the government real transformations in the state and active steps in overcoming corruption. The French side also says the primary tasks of Ukraine’s new leadership should include liberalizing the economy as soon as possible, improving the investment climate, as well as eliminating the oligarchic system.
Representatives of the Hungarian expert circles positively assess the start of work of the new Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine, applaud Volodymyr Zelensky’s willingness to continue cooperation with the IMF, open the land market, carry out further privatization, and ensure equal access to natural resources.
Officials from various states have welcomed the fact that the Ukrainian Parliament voted in favor of lifting parliamentary immunity, saying it is the first major victory for the newly elected President’s reform program.
Most representatives of foreign diplomatic circles working in Ukraine have also shown understanding of presidential initiative to amend Article 106 of the Constitution to empower the president to create independent regulatory bodies, the National Anti-corruption Bureau of Ukraine (NABU), appoint and dismiss directors of NABU and the State Bureau of Investigation.
According to their estimates, despite the fact that the bill will strengthen the President’s influence on anti-corruption bodies, it will allow to more effectively combat bribery in state bodies and improve the business climate in the country.
In turn, foreign governments and international organizations are also ready to cooperate with the new government of Ukraine in political, economic, financial, and humanitarian spheres, taking into account the continued foreign political course of Kyiv toward integrating with the EU and NATO.
In particular, Head of the NATO Delegation to Ukraine, Alexander Vinnikov, believes that the appointment of Vadym Prystaiko, who until recently held the post of Ukraine’s Ambassador to NATO, a new foreign minister, was a good signal for the relations between Ukraine and the Alliance.
At the same time, the NATO Delegation to Ukraine noted that during Volodymyr Zelensky and the Servant of the People party’s campaigns, integration with NATO, unlike that with the EU, was not named as a priority.
The NATO Delegation is also closely monitoring the appointments of heads of security agencies, the SBU and intelligence oversight committee, and votes on bills that are directly or indirectly related to Law on National Security of Ukraine. In particular, it’s about the reform of the Security Service of Ukraine, as well as the withdrawal of the National Guard of Ukraine from under the supervision by the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the move to hand controls over the NGU to the President.
Of greatest concern to NATO officials is the possibility that the SBU reform may become a formality, without changing the agency’s “Soviet” features and eliminating corruption of its individual operatives.
In their view, not only is it desirable not only to make changes to the SBU’s tasks, it is also important to change the very approach to the formation of the agency service, which hasn’t changed since the times of the ChK-NKVD-KGB, being based on the principle of esprit de corps –meaning that the SBUs hires people who are believed to be “loyal”, “reliable”, often “on other operatives’ recommendations”. Although this approach helps to avoid hiring foreign intelligence agents, it also contributes to corruption, poor skills and lack of qualification among employees, closing the path for talented, promising applicants.
Experts with the NATO Delegation also raise questions about the National Guard’s subordination initiative, which requires amendments to Law on National Security of Ukraine. According to the NATO Delegation to Ukraine, any transfer of military formations from under the authority of relevant ministers is contrary to the principles of civilian control and democratic oversight of the security and defense agencies professed in the EU and NATO, as well as commitments made by Ukraine.
International organizations also voice serious concern about the possible adoption by the Verkhovna Rada of Draft Law No. 1658, “Labor Code”, which deputies of the previous convocation did not dare to put to the vote in the second reading, having faced harsh criticism from both leading international organizations, as well as numerous NGOs in Ukraine.
In particular, in April 2016, the International Labor Organization stated in its Memorandum of Technical Comments a total of 59 essential points of criticism of the said draft law. In November 2017, the International Trade Union Confederation and its Secretary General, Sharan Barrow, in their Open Address to President of Ukraine and Speaker of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine, openly called for dropping the draft law.
Today, the same draft of the Labor Code has been re-registered (No. 0955, Aug 29, 2019). It has been authored by Mykhailo Papiev (Opposition Platform – For Life).
In the context of the deadline set by President for the new Labor Code to be adopted by Jan 1, 2020, a so-called zeitnot has in fact been created. Considering that this bill remains the only prepared draft that the relevant committee of the Verkhovna Rada will have to approve as a basis and submit for voting, creates a threat of it being passed in its current form.