Making Good on the Promise of the Maidan

Posted by: U.S. Ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt

Читати українською

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U.S. Ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt at the Nebesna Sotnya memorial, January 2014

Two years after the Revolution of Dignity, Ukraine’s leaders — spurred on by an active, engaged, and committed civil society — have pressed forward on difficult political and economic reforms to bring Ukraine closer to its chosen European future. They have done so in the face of a Kremlin-manufactured conflict in the East and a struggling economy inherited from the Yanukovych era, making all that has been accomplished in past two years even more inspiring.

Change has not come easily; it has come with great sacrifice. As Vice President Biden said during his visit, to honor those who have given so much – first on the Maidan and later in Donbas – each of us has an obligation to answer the call of history and to help build a united, democratic Ukraine. The most fitting memorial to the Heavenly Hundred is a Ukraine genuinely rid of corruption, cronyism, and kleptocracy. A Ukraine with deepening ties to Europe that will create new opportunity, new growth, and empower a new generation to reach its God-given potential.

In the day-to-day politics and the bureaucratic struggles of economic reform, it’s easy to get lost in the details. But at times like these, it’s important to keep our eyes on the horizon – to stay focused on the trend lines, not the headlines. To recognize that change is happening, and progress is being made, whether in the Rada, the National Bank, the police, or the reformed Naftogaz. In fact, more progress than at any time in Ukraine’s history.

In the last two years, Ukraine has held successful presidential, parliamentary, and local elections in line with international norms.  You’ve stuck to your IMF program. Your currency has stabilized and you’ve rebuilt your reserves. You’ve worked hard to regain Ukraine’s credibility with the international financial community. Across Ukraine, you have a new, clean national police force that enjoys the most valuable asset of all, the public’s trust. You’ve made progress on decentralization — empowering local communities to improve services for citizens. Economic growth is returning, and a new Free Trade Zone with the European Union has opened exciting new opportunities to leverage Ukraine’s untapped economic potential.

We all agree that more can and must be done, particularly in the area of corruption where so much damage has been done, but the progress of the last two years shows that Ukraine is changing. Two years ago on the Maidan and in the years since, you’ve shown the world that when Ukrainians stand tall together, no kleptocrat, no oligarch, and no foreign power can stop you. By building an inclusive, democratic government that presses forward on reform and truly serves the people, Ukraine’s leaders can show the world that there will be no return to the ways of the past. That’s what the thousands gathered on Maidan stood for. That’s what the Heavenly Hundred and the thousands who’ve died defending their country from a relentless Russian aggressor gave their lives for. Their sacrifice is your obligation.

In the spirit of the Maidan, Ukraine’s leaders can put the Ukrainian people first – above posturing, party politics, and personal interests. They can seize this opportunity and help Ukraine step fully into its rightful place among the free, democratic, Western nations.  That’s the future the Ukrainian people want and deserve. And it’s the best way of honoring the hopes, the dreams, and the memory of those whose blood and courage have given Ukraine a second chance for freedom.

“Don’t blink. Keep it up.”

Posted by: U.S. Ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt

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Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker, Kyiv, October 26, 2015
Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker, Kyiv, October 26, 2015

It was great to have Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker in Ukraine this week, where she announced that that United States intends to provide another $1 billion dollar loan guarantee to Ukraine in 2015.

Since her previous visit 13 months ago, Ukraine’s government and people have stood firm in the face of enormous challenges, and have made notable progress:  foreign reserves have grown from $5 billion to $12 billion, industrial production has stabilized, agricultural exports are increasing, your currency has stabilized, and experts predict a return to overall economic growth in 2016. These are the returns on the hard but important reform progress that the Rada has made in conjunction with the Prime Minister and the President.

There’s still a long road ahead for Ukraine to reach its full economic potential, and to get there, Ukraine has to stay the course and continue to make meaningful progress on reform. That’s not only the key to maintaining the support of the international community in the near-term, it’s also absolutely critical to creating a climate where U.S. and other global companies like the ones that traveled with Secretary Pritzker — businesses like Cargill, Citibank, Dupont, Honeywell, NCH Capital, and Westinghouse – have the confidence to invest.

Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker, Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk, American CEOs (Cargill, Citibank, Dupont, Honeywell, NCH Capital, and Westinghouse), U.S. Ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt, Ukrainian Ministers, October 26, 2015
Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker, Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk, American CEOs (Cargill, Citibank, Dupont, Honeywell, NCH Capital, and Westinghouse), U.S. Ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt, Ukrainian Ministers, October 26, 2015

Earlier this week, I explained to Voice of America in an interview that these companies are risk averse. “Money is a coward,” one of the CEOs traveling with Secretary Pritzker told the Prime Minister. They will want to see that reforms stick and the IMF conditions are complied with. They want to make sure that the environment is one where they’re taking a business risk, not other unknown risk. Only then will you see them bringing their resources, their technology, and their capital to the Ukrainian market.

Getting there requires that Ukraine tackle corruption, make its infrastructure more efficient and attractive for investors, reduce excessive regulations, raise the professionalism of its judiciary, better protect intellectual property, and improve its tax administration.

Of these, the number one impediment to faster investment by American companies in Ukraine is the problem of corruption. That’s why we’ve placed such an emphasis on the Prosecutor General’s Office. That’s why we’re so focused on the rapid implementation of the new framework for the anti-corruption prosecutors, the National Anti-Corruption Bureau – the NABU.  All of these are institutional measures to root out the pervasive corruption that has done so much to hold Ukraine back since its independence. It’s about creating an expectation that if you are a government official involved in stealing resources from the Ukrainian people, you will be held accountable. And it’s about changing the entire system, not just one individual or another.

United States Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker and Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, October 26, 2015
United States Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker and Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, October 26, 2015

Imagine if – instead of lining corrupt officials’ pockets – the resources being stolen from the Ukrainian people as a result of corruption were freed up and reinvested in Ukraine’s economy.  Imagine what those resources could do to fuel the development and broad-based prosperity the Ukrainian people want and deserve.

We know that these changes are hard. Not only for the Ukrainian government, but also the Ukrainian people. That’s why the proceeds of the loan guarantee Secretary Pritzker announced will be focused on helping the Ukrainian government protect those most vulnerable to the impact of the necessary economic adjustments for them to achieve the kind of reform that’s necessary.

As one of the American CEOs told the President and Prime Minister earlier this week, “Don’t blink. Keep it up.” Pressing ahead and accelerating the process of reform will benefit the people of Ukraine. And it’s an effort that the United States will continue to put all of its energy into supporting.

A New Police Force for Ukraine

Posted by: U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey R. Pyatt

Читати українською

U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey R. Pyatt and Deputy Minister of Interior Eka Zguladze
U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey R. Pyatt and Deputy Minister of Interior Eka Zguladze at the new patrol police recruitment center

Yesterday I had the opportunity to join Deputy Minister of Interior Eka Zguladze at the new patrol police recruitment center at the Teacher’s House in downtown Kyiv.  The center is at the forefront of the Ukrainian government’s efforts to stand up a new, professional cadre of first responders committed to protecting and serving the public. I was delighted to learn that nearly 4,000 Ukrainians – more than 30% of them women — have already applied to serve their country and their communities as patrol police in Kyiv.

The United States is a proud partner of the Ukrainian Ministry of Interior as it works to stand up this new police force.  Once selected, new recruits will receive training from U.S. law enforcement experts funded by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement.  And as I told the crowd that joined us yesterday, we will be sending our very best trainers to support this critical element of Ukraine’s reform effort.

We all want to see the new patrol police build the trust between law enforcement and local communities that the Ukrainian people want and deserve.  I’m grateful to Deputy Minister Zguladze and Minister Avakov for their leadership, and look forward to the patrol’s first deployment in Kyiv in June.

Interested in learning more about how to be a part of Ukraine’s new police?  Check out http://mvs.gov.ua/mvs/control/main/uk/publish/article/1314915