Administrative Reform for Ukraine.(LETTERS)(FORUM)

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), November 17, 2002 | Go to article overview
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Administrative Reform for Ukraine.(LETTERS)(FORUM)


Byline: THE WASHINGTON TIMES

Like an office-seeker trying to become known to the electorate, the nation of Ukraine is striving hard to present itself as an upright and capable member of the international community.

Because Ukraine was an integral part of the former Soviet Union, the nation's name still rolls of the tongues of many Americans as "the Ukraine." Only a decade removed from this suffocating Soviet past, in which state control and state planning decreed all aspects of life, it has been an uphill battle for the nation to find international acceptance. Even as many members of the old East Block gain entry into multilateral institutions such as NATO or the European Union, Ukraine has had a much harder time over the past 10 years getting people to take notice or acknowledge the positive internal changes that the country has undergone.

Without going into the minutiae of all the legitimate problems facing Ukraine, I think it's important to single out at least one area where the nation exhibits a glaringly insufficient sense of reform. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, when Ukraine decided to pursue its own destiny, most of the emphasis on change has focused on economic policy - primarily through the liberalization of foreign economic relations, stabilization of macroeconomic indicators and deregulation of the economy.

However, substantial progress has been made on these matters at the expense of governmental and political reform.

It almost reminds me of the old argument regarding the relative influence of the economic might of New York vs. the political power of Washington. The case of Ukraine makes it painfully obvious that further economic development in my country is impossible without first addressing the unsatisfactory state of affairs of the Ukrainian government.

The Ukrainian people and our top decisionmakers will soon have to decide whether they have the political will to begin meaningful reform of the government's institutions. Without it, Ukraine can kiss goodbye all hope of further creating favorable conditions necessary for the spread of private entrepreneurship; for it is clear that present economic reforms are suffering from inadequate government transparency and the absence of an independent judicial system.

A few years ago, administrative reform was merely considered as one of many different priorities that this new nation had to act upon. It's time to recognize that governmental reform should finally become the top priority. Without it, Ukraine will not only find it impossible to make economic strides, but it will also never improve its image internationally.

Soviet era labor legislation, still currently in force, must be rewritten and the principle of equal protection under the law must become indubitable.

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