“You cannot have a successful physical reconstruction in any sustainable, durable way without having well-functioning pluralistic institutions”, says Richard Youngs in this week’s #Forum2000online Chat. Mr. Youngs, a Senior Fellow in the Democracy, Conflict, and Governance Program at Carnegie Europe and an ICDR Member, joined Martin Ehl, journalist and author working at Czech Economic daily Hospodářské noviny, to talk about the democracy-related priorities from among the large number of issues that future support to Ukraine will need to encompass.
According to Richard Youngs, you will learn that:
- It is too early to say that war is strengthening the Ukrainian path to democracy. The focus today is on fighting the war and on helping the country successfully execute it. The focus of Forum 2000 and the European democracy Hub is to put the issue of democracy at least on the agenda. This is very complicated because there are more pressing urgent short-term imperatives that have to do with the war, but it is important to remember that it is being carried out in the name of democratic values.
- It is understandable that the priority will be on physical reconstruction, but there is also an institutional dimension. The lesson from other conflict and post-conflict experiences is that it is not possible to have a successful physical reconstruction in any sustainable, durable way without having well-functioning pluralistic institutions.
- The Ukrainian civil society is playing a key role. This is one of the most impressive features of the national resistance over the last months. There is a whole of society approach that Ukraine seems to have developed and perfected. The international help for the longer term also needs to focus on building the civic capacity for the future.
- Before the war started, Ukrainian democracy was in a fragile balance. There were elements of democratic reform being implemented. There will be a difficult balance to strike between offering help as quickly as possible, as smoothly and flexibly as possible to Ukraine on the one hand, and making sure that longer-term reform issues do not get pushed off the agenda in the midst of the crisis.
- The war is being taken forward in the name of political values. There seems to be a new commitment to democratic values and a focus on the need for a high degree of democracy, governance, and transparency.
- Despite the war, the Ukrainian state is still moving forward with many reforms associated with the accession process to prepare Ukraine for getting into the EU. It is an onerous task to implement all reforms. The EU needs to be flexible on this and helping Ukraine move along that path in a steady fashion. Ukraine is moving forward on corruption and other issues as well despite fighting a war at the moment.
- A successful pursuit of the war in Ukraine could give a broader impulse and prompt to democratic reforms elsewhere in the world. It could revitalize the whole democratic project on a global basis, but it is important to remember that in many countries around the world, democracy's fate still depends on specific local factors. Despite the undoubted systemic level importance of what is going on in Ukraine, not everything is about this country and this war in other parts of the world.
The interview was recorded on December 16, 2022. For more information, you can read the paper “A Democratic Roadmap for Ukraine”. This short contribution of Forum 2000, in cooperation with European Democracy Hub at Carnegie Europe, explores a selection of democracy-related priorities from among the large number of issues that future support to Ukraine will need to encompass.