One of IRL's leaders and the party's prime ministerial candidate Juhan Parts is currently on a three-day visit to Ukraine, where he is getting acquainted with the security situation, the pace of local reforms, and Ukraine's economic recovery.
Parts, who is accompanied by a Lithuanian ex-prime minister Andrius Kubilius and Lithuanian ex-foreign minister Audronius Ažubalis, will have high-level meetings with Ukrainian officials, including the minister of economic affairs, the head of Ukrainian president's administration and the speaker of Ukrainian parliament.
Parts said to Estonian online portal Delfi that one of the most important conclusions he has drawn, while visiting Ukraine, is that the West needs to stop using euphemisms when describing the events in eastern Ukraine.
“We need to stop using terms such as 'crisis' and 'separatists' in relation to East Ukraine. From the Ukrainian viewpoint, it is Vladimir Putin's war against the nation of Ukraine, full stop. The minimum that Estonia, the European Union, NATO and the US can do at present, is to describe the situation as it is. We are dealing with Putin's war machine in Ukraine, yet there are euphemisms in place in the West that tend to diminish the real seriousness of what goes on – a war,” Parts said.
Parts added that just like following the events during the Balkan war in the 1990s, the International Criminal Court in Hague should start instigating the proceedings against war criminals in eastern Ukraine.
Parts said that Ukrainians have realized that Russian president is not interested in solving the conflict peacefully. “The question and task for the EU and the US is how to stop Putin's war machine. We should start thinking about giving Ukraine military aid. Until now, the military aid has been largely non-existent, but it's time to change this policy,” Parts said. He added that provocations have reached other Ukrainian towns, such as Nikolajev, and even Kyiv.
According to Parts, it is crucial for Ukraine to pass reforms, which would in long term help the country on its feet again and double as a security guarantee. “There is a lot of ambition to conduct the reforms in the country, but at the moment, the problem is how to turn them into results as fast as possible.”
Parts said that because the post-Soviet Ukraine has lacked the European-style institutions, the country needs many reforms at once and Europe should be more patient. “I think that in regard to Ukraine, the EU member states should not take a 'business as usual' approach. Considering the scope of reforms that are required to change Ukraine for the better, Europe should take a different approach here. For example, the Estonian reform model, based on our experiences in the 1990s, is not comparable to what is needed in Ukraine – we need to go much deeper there,” Parts said, adding that in his opinion, the EU has not fully realized this yet.
Parts said that on a positive note, Ukraine has taken small steps toward real reforms, an example of which is the formation of a new police institution, which is also a part of the fight against corruption. “They are all successful steps which we should acknowledge more in Europe.”
Parts also proposed that as an extraordinary measure, the EU should consider setting up new guarantees for private investments to Ukraine.
“In order to kick-start the Ukrainian economy, one of the most challenging tasks is to restore trust among the Western investors. It is a difficult task because many investors are skeptical about the possibility of accomplishing European reforms in the country. In my opinion, the EU should take an unusual step and set up guarantees for private investors wishing to invest in Ukraine – guarantees would secure risks against corruption, as well as military ones,” Parts said.
As for Estonian help to Ukraine, Parts said that rather than supporting the large country on multiple fronts, Estonia should focus on a specific field. “Ukraine is a large country and Estonian resources are limited. Currently, we are helping Ukraine in digital solutions, but we also have to take into account that some of our solutions may not be transferable one-by-one to Ukraine, considering the state of their institutions – it's like trying to carry water in a strainer in that case. To distribute money on many small projects is not sustainable in long term,“ he said.
Editor: S. Tambur, M. Oll