Reforms Demand Ongoing Engagement with Society – Ivan Mikloš

Reforms Demand Ongoing Engagement with Society – Ivan Mikloš
12 September 2015

Reforms in Ukraine must include government leadership’s continuous engagement and communication with the public; otherwise they will not hold out against populism, a member of the National Council of the Slovak Republic, Ivan Mikloš, said at the 12th Yalta European Strategy (YES) Annual Meeting, today in Kyiv.

"Presently, there is insufficient communication. If we speak about Ukraine's current problems, including raising the tariffs and devaluation, it should be continually reinforced that this is not the price of reforms, but the cost of more than 70 years of the Communist rule and two decades of a dysfunctional state. The problems are not because of reforms but because of their absence. It is very important to explain this to the people of Ukraine," said Mikloš, who served Slovakia' finance minister in 2002-2006 and 2010-2012.

Mikloš added that society and the authorities should build trust in each other. "The worst enemy of reforms is populism and it has been on the rise. Anti-populist efforts are impossible without daily communication and daily explaining," he said.

Mikloš recalled that at least some members of the parliamentary coalition regularly say that the energy tariff reform is wrong. "What we see is some members of the coalition resisting this needed step. They are saying it every day – that tariff reform is aimed against people. Difficult times foster populism," he concluded.

A panelist joining Mikloš as Anders Åslund, a senior fellow with the Atlantic Council, who echoed the statement that populism is in the heart of efforts directed against the tariff reform. "Ihor Bakay once said that all truly rich people in Ukraine 'earned' their wealth on gas. If you see three parties which do not support the government at the moment and want the tariffs halved, this means they are okay with oligarchs – and this is populism," he said.

Ukrainian Infrastructure Minister Andriy Pyvovarsky has said that he is well aware of the need to talk to society and of the threats posed by populism. "During the second meeting of the Cabinet of Ministers in December I told the prime minister that I was in fact a suicide bomber who has put on a burning belt. There is no time. Due to populism, there will be very little time for changes until it reaches its peak. Every day is like the last day," he said. 

The 12th Yalta European Strategy Annual Meeting is streamed live at yes-ukraine.org as well as web-sites of the Media Partners in English and Ukrainian.

The official Twitter of the 12th YES Annual Meeting is @yes_ukraine, and participants and followers can include the hashtag: #YESUkraine2015.

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David Rubenstein
David Rubenstein
Co-Founder and Co-Executive Chairman, The Carlyle Group, 16th YES Annual Meeting, 2019
«If you do things that can make the country a better place, you’re more likely to achieve personal happiness than through anything else you’re likely to do in the short term.»