Oleksandr Klymenko Official website
Articles | 1294 | 06.04.2016

To Stitch Ukraine

The biggest tragedy of all the wars is that people, who did not start it, always pay for it. In case of Ukraine – there are four million residents of uncontrolled territories, 1.7 million IDPs and civilians on the controlled front-line areas of Donbas.

None of these millions of people signed a Decree on the carrying out “fulminant” anti-terrorist operation, which has been proceeding for more than two years.

None of these people deceived countrymen with a peacekeeping program during presidential elections and withdrawal billions of profit to offshore.

None of these people wanted war. However, they became hostages and victims of the conflict in Donbas.

All these people are waiting for simple and clear answer to the most important question for them by Ukrainian authorities: «How to stop the war»

The war will not be stopped itself. It can last for decades. There is a wide range of instances of conflicts, which last for fifty years or more.

We are threatened with the same perspective without a coherent long-term state policy. We will obtain a local epicenter of tension for years.

Sometimes it seems that current government thinks about such option. In such case, we do not have to solve this problem by ourselves. We can just pass it on to the next generations.

It is obvious and understandable that the conflict can not be resolved by military way. Use of force can destroy Donbas. However, use of force can not return Donbas.

Donbas – it is not an infrastructure or just territory. Donbas – it is people. Four million civilians on the uncontrolled territories and 1.7 million internally displaced persons. They are victims of the conflict and hostages of the situation. They are citizens and they have a right to demand effective steps of current government in order to protect their interests.

People on the uncontrolled territories are actually deprived of their rights. At the same time, they are in real danger. According to UN estimates, for each killed soldier (from either side), there are four killed civilians,

People, who were forced to leave their homes, in fact, have become second-class citizens in their own country. They can not find work and are not provided with housing. They are deprived of the right to vote. In the end, the state does not give a clear answer to the meaning of the policy concerning the so-called “internally displaced persons”: is it come about full integration into the new community or temporary shelter during the settlement of the situation in Donbas? Such uncertainty – is not better than a powerless position.

The main battle – is a fight for hearts and minds of these people. It will be won by that person, who will provide them with the things they need the most.

I never hid the fact that I have the best team related to Donbas. Within the framework of community initiative “Restoring Donbas”, we together with the best Ukrainian and international experts have developed a comprehensive program for the restoration of peace and the reintegration of the region. It relies on international experience, and to those needs and expectations of Ukrainians today

What does Donbas and Ukraine need?

First of all, peace. Ukrainian authorities are not able to stop the war for two years. Although you need one day to stop the war. People are shooting guns and machine guns. They do it because they are an order of other people. Therefore, a cease-fire is incredibly simple: we should find arguments to make heads to give other orders.

However, second and all subsequent steps –  are more difficult. It is an issue of intense intellectual research. I do not believe that this search will be carried out in public institutions.

What do we need (Donbas residents) besides a peace?

The first thing – is a hope. It comes about the vision of the future of this region. People should know that not everyone wants to consider their native land to be a field of battle or the scene, where political and financial capitals are earned behind this scene.

People want to believe in peaceful and successful future of their region and country. It is necessary make other people also believe in it in order to work out new projects, build transitional procedures and attract investment.

Only returning of constructive and creative source in Donbas can restore hope of people. It is extremely important to bring this constructive from Kiev for successful resolving of the conflict.

Here is the most important second phase: definition of the status of the region and beginning of reintegration. If Donbas obtains a certain autonomy in political and humanitarian fields, such model can be considered as suitable one. In its turn, Kiev receives a signal about restoration of broken relationships and potential of the whole industrial region that immediately strengthens the economy.  After that, broken chains will be restored, railway, roads and communications will be repaired. We will look for consumers of goods both in the country and abroad. Creating new rules of coexistence – is long and complicated process. Its success will determine the first step. This step must be correct.

There is one more important issue, namely, safety. In fact, it come about those steps, which are fixed in the Minsk Agreement: a total demilitarization from both sides. Weapons should be passed off by everyone, except the police. Those, who refuse to do it, are illegal. There will be held a global work on demining of dangerous areas and search for caches.  Cities and villages will have normal life again. However, there is still a lot of important issues that should be solved in order to restore a peaceful life. In general, our initiative “Restoring Donbas” is dealing with mine clearance and mine safety issues in communities of the region.

I would like to emphasize again: people, but not the territories are reintegrating in Ukraine. New power will fight for their minds and hearts. Therefore, this stage (information and humanitarian phase of stabilization) will last for years. It comes about bringing disjoined informational policy of Donbas and Kiev to a single denominator, which called peace. It is necessary to overcome the causes that led to emergence of the crisis itself. In order to do this, we will have to look for public consensus. Securing cultural and social features of Donbas can be such compromise. At the same time, restoration of horizontal connections with other regions on a professional basis (students, doctors, teachers, scientists) and the role of the intelligence has always been a determining factor in the humanization of society.  In the short term, return of Ukrainian editorial channels, newspapers, magazines and online media in their place of work should take place.

Of course, it is impossible to manage without “eternal mantra” of modern Ukrainian politics.  Fight against corruption is necessary. However, it should be conducted by real, rather than simulated anti-corruption bureau and committees. They should be truly independent from the centers of influence. They have to obtain broad powers in order to come with inspections to these centers themselves.

We can have a long conversation concerning reform in taxation. Not only Donbas, but the whole country needs a complete overhaul of the institutional framework of fiscal services. In particular, it should be carried out for the benefit of small and medium-sized business, which is dying under the burden of taxes today. Simplified taxation system should be returned. There is should be a control over transfer pricing of large business as a way to prevent withdrawal of capital in offshores.

There is another important aspect for many IDPs, who have transferred business out of Donbas. Its return will be related to expenses. Plethora od them will have to restore their business from scratch. Therefore, business will need not only tax benefits, but also cheap loans as well as maximum protection from local authorities.

When the region understands that hostilities stopped, it will be possible to take the next step – modernization of the economy. The main discussion will take place around the issue – to restore old entities or to build new one? Market itself and owners of industrial assets as well as investors, who will be invited to participate in restoring of the region, will give an answer. Guarantees of security and stable operation for large property owners will help to intensify the process of restoring industrial centers. International assistance and audit will make production become environmentally friendly and “green”.

Plethora of such subject, specific, clear solutions will form the whole design of new Donbas.  It comes about peaceful Donbas, which has learned the lesson from the tragedy, which is ready to live and work hard in order to prevent this nightmare in future.

Nowadays, unfortunately, political and institutional crisis in Kiev removes prospects for settlement this conflict. There is a strong necessity to reboot the power, which is devaluating.  Who (out of current parliament) is ready for reconciliation? Is this collective of soldiers, pseudo patriotic activists and oppositionist without teeth ready to come to terms? Will political will be enough to implement the Minsk agreements as a whole?

People, who are living in war, can not bring peace. When the aim of the parliamentary leaders switched from progress to banal disassembly for scarce financial flows, it became clear: either there is a complete reboot of the system, or “Ukraine” project can be closed, due to the fact that it will be officially referred to a failed state category.

… The darkest hour of the night – is an hour before dawn. However, the dawn is still coming. Nowadays, it is extremely important to combine the energy of volunteers, creative possibilities of professionals, potential of former and future leaders and to send all creative energy to the end of pointless war and restoring Donbas. Ukraine can not be successful without it.

Link to source: Oleksandr Klymenko Official Website

Photo: oleksandr-klymenko.com/en