Kyiv is assuring Brussels that there is no backsliding on reform implementation in Ukraine.
A non-paper drafted by the Ukrainian side, titled "Strengthening EU Support to Ukraine in Implementing Reforms and Countering Russian Aggression", is being circulated in Brussels ahead of the upcoming EU Foreign Affairs Council scheduled for March 19, where EU foreign ministers intend to discuss the Ukraine issue in two aspects: implementation of reforms and fulfillment of Minsk agreements. Also ahead of the meeting, a joint non-paper drafted by 13 EU member states has been presented, where officials touch upon the reform process in Ukraine.
The non-paper prepared by the Ukrainian side, which is at UNIAN disposal, notes that Kyiv has "taken note of the joint non-paper 'Keeping Ukraine on the Reform Path', presented by 13 EU Member States in the context of preparation for discussion on the situation in Ukraine at the forthcoming EU Foreign Affairs Council on 19 March and the Ukraine Reform Conference in Copenhagen on 27 June".
"We appreciate the positive assessment of the efforts of the Ukrainian leadership to implement comprehensive and large-scale reform agenda to strengthen democratic institutions and restore economic growth in Ukraine based on the best European and international standards," the non-paper reads, adding that, in fact, it is well acknowledged that over the last 4 years after the Revolution of Dignity Ukraine implemented more reforms by their scale and depth than in the course of its entire independence.
Read alsoBrussels says Ukraine "not fully delivering" on EU, IMF benchmarks - journalistThe Ukrainian side states that a large number of these reforms were integrally linked with the implementation of IMF programs and Ukraine-EU Association Agreement, achieving very demanding criteria for a visa-free regime with the EU.
"Concrete progress on all these tracks demonstrates clearly the success of Ukrainian government on the reform agenda. Ukraine is a unique country in the world. Ukraine keeps delivering on such immense reform track in parallel with countering the ongoing Russian aggression, which has already resulted in loss of more than 10 thousand human lives, about 2 million IDPs, huge drop in national GDP, loss of significant part of production capacities and resources in the temporarily occupied regions of the Donbas and Crimea," the non-paper reads.
Besides, the Ukrainian side recalls that last year "we adopted and launched a number of long-awaited systemic reforms", including that of the judiciary, education (which symbolized the transition of the education system in Ukraine to the next generation best European and international standards), as well as decentralization and cleaning the banking sector.
"Approval of the new legislation on credit registry in line with EU standards is expected to strengthen stability and security of the financial system for years to come," Kyiv believes.
Ukraine has settled the long-existing problem of the VAT refund, continued the dynamic process of deregulation, launched the long-awaited comprehensive health care reform, and in the framework of the land reform developed the Concept of National land market model in cooperation with the World Bank.
Read alsoSmolii tapped to head National Bank of Ukraine"It is only brief and non-exhaustive list of the reforms, which have been launched and implemented since 2017. Most of them require more than a year or two to be implemented and felt by ordinary citizens. Moreover, the government is committed to going further on the reform track in 2018: a new law on the national security based on the EU and NATO models; a new law on diplomatic service; a new law on currency based on the principle “allowed is everything which is not prohibited”; establishing the National Bureau of Financial Security as the only center for detecting economic crimes," the Ukrainian side says.
It is underlined that this year is "crucial in our cooperation as the current IMF program expires at the beginning of the next year".
"A lot has been achieved, Ukraine has demonstrated impressive performance, in particular on pension reform and privatization. In line with IMF program, we have initiated very difficult, highly sensitive and very unpopular pension reform, which introduced an accumulation pension system and drastically increased the pension insurance record," the non-paper says.
Read alsoMogherini: No Ukraine fatigue in EUHowever, Ukraine acknowledges that several issues for the upcoming fourth review are yet to be done, including the establishment of the high anticorruption court and adjusting the gas tariffs.
"We expect that these issues will be settled in the near future. There is no time for any pause in reforms and no justified grounds to say about any so-called backsliding. We fully share the call of 13 EU member states for increased efforts of the international community to counter the false narrative that nothing has changed or the reforms are backsliding," the Ukrainian side assures.
It is noted that such narrative "clearly contributes to the society’s fatigue and disappointment with 'everlasting transformations', thus undermining the trust in the pro-European government".
"It also plays well in the Russian narrative of the fiasco of European integration idea," the non-paper says.