Combating corruption in Ukraine requires the unwavering support of the country's political leadership, Estonian President Kersti Kaljulaid said today in the Ukrainian capital, Kiev, whilst on an official visit to the country.
The President's office had already made it clear that the rule of law would tabled as an issue up for discussion even before the official visit began yesterday, Tuesday, 22 May.
Speaking after a meeting with the head of the National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine (NABU), Artem Sytnyk, Ms. Kaljulaid said that "Corruption is the primary factor holding back Ukraine's development alongside the war [in the eastern region of the country]. In order for the fight against corruption to be effective, it must have strong, visible and unconditional support from all political levels.''
She also stressed the importance of fostering a perception in society of what corruption actually is, in order to facilitate detection and counter measures.
"The barriers to reporting cases and reacting to them have to be set as low as possible," she said, emphasizing the role of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in boosting society's awareness of corruption.
Ms. Kaljulaid also pointed out that this would go equally for both public and private sectors.
"In order for a country's economy to grow, that country to develop and its public well-being to improve, a business environment is required where investors feel that their rights will be guaranteed," the President stated.
She also referenced the plight of two Estonian investors, Hillar Teder and Marcel Vichmann, who had been experiencing issues around corruption and the rule of law in Ukraine.
Hillar Teder's problems concern ownership of the Sky Mall in Kiev, a case which had been taken to the London Court of International Arbitration (LCIA) in 2016. The LCIA ruled that the part of the holding in the Mall belonging to Ukrainian businessman Andrei Adamovsky must be returned to Teder's company Arricano, something which has not been fulfilled yet.
Marcel Vichmann had planned to build a 12 km promenade in the resort town of Zatoka in Odessa province in 2015 via his Litus Maris company. The Zatoka city government had granted permission for work to commence on the promenade, only for it to run into trouble when just one kilometre had been completed, due to reported corruption and organized crime issues.
The Estonian President also pointed out in her speech today that Estonia has made a valuable contribution to the fight against corruption in Ukraine in recent years.
"We have trained experts and shared our experience. But it is also essential, aside from the investigation, for the judicial system to function properly. Tackling corruption is of little use when the cases do not reach the courts or the handing down of a judgment," she said.
Kersti Kaljulaid is on an official visit to Ukraine, where she has already met with President Petro Poroshenko, Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman, Deputy Prime Minister Ivanna Klympush-Tsintsadze and chairman of the Verkhovna Rada Andriy Parubiy.
The president will also open a business seminar in Kiev, meet with local entrepreneurs and other public figures in the country. She is also set to visit eastern Ukraine, where she will meet with the governor of the Kharkiv region and look at reconstruction work and humanitarian aid in the region as well as visiting the Joint Forces Operation Headquarters in eastern Ukraine.
She is also due to attend the Champions' League final between Real Madrid and Liverpool in Kiev on Saturday evening as the guest of the Ukrainian President.
Editor: Andrew Whyte