Alexandr Bulavin: the roads, which have chosen us
The two-day public non-political discussion in Kiev, which was dedicated to the tendencies in the Ukrainian economy in connection with the global integration, was the first but rather a successful project of the News Agency Kharkov, which together with the European Institute of Political Culture not only managed to gather at the round table the international gathering of the well-known experts, but also to suggest an unusual look at the going on economical processes. I will concentrate only on the most important points.
Mythical economical freedom
For many centuries the territories, which today belong to Ukraine with its residents, were captured by the Pechenegs, the Sarmatians, the Lithuanians, the Poles, the Austria-Hungarians… There are still people alive, who told me that they liked, for example, the subjection of the Hungarian prices. There are still a lot of desperate people in Ukraine, who say, “Good heavens, let at least someone subjected us, and may be then there would be order, everyone would work, and everything would be according to the law.” But far from many people agree with it. The latter appreciate the personal freedom, sovereignty, and the right to make individual choice of the way of life, what to produce and to build, which languages to speak, and which good to pray. The drama is in that the same as in the society, in economy there is no absolute freedom, as your freedom borders on the freedom of other people.
In addition to everything since the end of the second millennium the new era of the polarization of the world has begun. The powerful centers of force, which integrate the countries into associations, acting according to the definite rules and laws, appeared. How, for example, can one explain the fact that such countries as Syria, Palestine, Israel, Brazil, and other countries are involved into the cooperation with the European Union? As one of the speakers has courageously noted that the EU nowadays repeats the great German empire, which in the 40th constituted of 27 countries.
Upon the whole, the fact of holding such a discussion is notable. First-of all, many guests of Kiev arrived to take part in the dialog, regardless of the insecurity, about which the international news agencies informed. Secondly, that the discussion was very timely, since exactly those days the European Union once again declared about the readiness to sign the Association Agreement with Ukraine. Thirdly, neither Europe, nor Ukraine, nor Russia has worked out any grounded document, which will determine the future integration ways. That was why we in Ukraine did not choose, but supposed which way would be the best.
“Not the quality, the structure of the real sector of economy of Ukraine determines the integration choice of our country, but the quality of the Ukrainian elite,” Dmitry Polonskiy noted. The current decision-making people in Ukraine (at power and at the opposition) are the outgoing generation of the managers, the politicians, who failed, and we should not expect them to make effective radical decisions. But there are the real managers of the medium generation. And if the new integration, including political one and the ponderable opinion in the legislative governmental authorities in their surroundings will appear, then there will be no crisis of the economy. As the solution of the crucial economical problems, creation of the strategy and tactics of the foreign-economic activity of the country is based only on the state of its economy, but does not limit to it.
The document, which caused such stormy events in Ukraine, was indeed ready three years ago due to the efforts of the European officers and the representatives of the administration of Viktor Yushchenko. During the discussion the following logical question arose: why wasn’t it approved then, when the state of the Ukrainian economy was much better and the political regime was obedient to the West? Only one answer remained in the course of the discussion: only in the last year such a critical confrontation for the markets and the territories between the USA, Europe, and Russia occurred. The drastic attack of the EU of the positions of Ukraine was caused by that exactly important motive.
After that the participants revealed another nonsense. In Ukraine almost during the two last years the total propaganda of the benefits of the European Union took place in all the mass media and on the territory of the country. The European diplomats rushed to all the regions, including the settlements and villages. Moreover, in spite of the diplomatic practice and protocol they traveled throughout the whole country, without asking the owners, and carried out their activities about the European integration, without agreeing it with the local authorities. The powerful propaganda network was developed, the task of which was to spread the information about the benefits of the European countries, about the fact that the European Ukraine was being waited for in the friendly family of the European nations. The propaganda centers of Europe appeared even in the villages.
But neither of the booklet or the article about the prospects of the European integration of Ukraine contained the clear, pragmatic analytical material, calculations, which would distinctly confirm the economical benefit of joining Ukraine the EU. Vice versa the participants of the discussion of this topic provided the examples, that during at least the last year there were dozens of round tables, conferences, briefings, which vividly showed that joining of Ukraine the free trade area with the EU would cause very serious disproportions in the national economy of the country, would lead to the destruction of its whole branches, and marginalization of millions of Ukrainian citizens.
However, till the last moment Brussels did nothing, waiting for the fulfillment of the imposed conditions to Kiev and was sure that Ukraine will not dare to change anything.
The so-called opposition did not manage to do anything as well. Instead of the loud rallies, when the energy of the opposition is spent on just words, it was necessary not only to adopt the obligatory according to the conditions of the agreement laws, but also to approve in Verkhovna Rada the route map of joining of Ukraine the Western integration union. Nothing like that was done. The participants of the discussion noted that the purely economical, non-political document, which would clearly show all the benefits of joining of Ukraine to the free trade area with the EU was not created. It seems as if the opposition has the energy and personnel to do it. One of its leaders was the head of the National Bank, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the speaker of Verkhovna Rada. As the opposition declared many times it was supported by the creative class. It turned out that either they did not want to, or based on the requirements of Europe, there were no advantages at all. By the way, today when the President managed to loosen the timber-hitch on the neck of the Ukrainian economy and to get considerable money, which Europe and America were not going to provide without the tough conditions, the opposition should not shout “they will steal it anyway”, but to work out and to adopt in Verkhovna Rada the laws, which would make the stealing of the external credits impossible.
That absolutely nonsense turn in politics of the government of Kiev, when two weeks before the summit in Vilnius the government and the President informed about the decision to suspend the process of the integration of Ukraine and the EU, witnessed about the fact that the higher state persons did not hear in time the warnings of the experts, underestimated the threats coming from such a union.
Economy is still alive
Those really alarming data, facts, analysis, which were provided by the experts, witness about serious difficulties, crisis phenomenon in the key spheres of economy of Ukraine. But as the participants of the discussion noted it did not mean its final death. The zero growth of the gross national product undoubtedly set into a pessimistic mood. However, the experienced experts demonstrated that the main budget-forming branches, directions of the economy, production chains in the science intensive, key for the national economy, branches could start to work efficiently under the condition that our country would manage to get the considerable credits, investments for the launch of the economical projects.
This idea but under another angle was developed by representative of the Kharkov Tank Plant Named after Morozov Yuriy Apukhtin. In reality the ruined and dismissed scientific and technical potential did not varnish. “True,” said Apukhtin, “we produce ten times less of the production, but the work is going on. And we are making the product, which is better than the Western analogues. And it is about the fact that the result of the integration would give a serious impulse the military-industrial complex of Ukraine. Moreover, that the products of the military-industrial complex in the structure of the export, which brings foreign currency to the treasury of the country, takes the 6th place.” Plane construction, ship building, space industry, the possibilities of the machine-building companies, which produce the unique products for the energetic stations in Ukraine, as was remarked by the experienced experts, constitute the unique scientific intensive and rather expensive products, which Europe does not need, but which is badly needed for the other customers.
The foreign experts supported the ideas of Ukrainian colleagues. They stressed that having descended from the mega economical level one should more often think about the definite priority branches and fund forming enterprises. Vladimir Bondarenko stated that the economy of Belarus even under the conditions of the blockade of the West, even before the creation of the union state with Russia, managed to live, to develop and to produce the goods.
The Crimean experts showed that the potential of the autonomy was not revealed to the full extent, and under the conditions of the constitutional independence of the foreign economical activity of the Crimea could give additional opportunities to the population of the peninsula and to the economy of Ukraine as well. However, either there were no such strategic projects, or they were not yet worked out, as the situation with the construction of the large-tonnage port in the Western region of the Crimean shoreline.
Practically all the experts agreed that the collapse of a number of the key directions of the economy of Ukraine were connected with the European hysteria of some of the governmental officials, the decrease of the quality of the goods, which caused the negative reaction of Russia. The isolation policy of Kiev not only made the branches of the Russian economy create the parallel structures, duplicate the Ukrainian suppliers, but also treat the quality of Ukrainian manufacturers more captiously. Decrease of the level of the goods turnover between the two states by 20%, could not but reflect on the economical indexes of Ukraine, fullness of the of the budget, the capability of the state to fulfill its economical insurance arrangements, and lead to the shutdown of a number of companies and to the downsize of the working places.
And the speech of Dmitry Kondrashov, the well-known expert and the editor of the magazine The Baltic World, was at least like a cold shower for the Ukrainian participants of the discussion. “You need to understand,” he told, “that the definite isolation mood in relation to Ukraine, of course, in the economical sphere emerges in Russia. It was created not by the recent events; it all began earlier at the time of Yushchenko (when the ministers went for the negotiations in Moscow with the interpreter).” The constant zigzags in the tactics of the Ukrainian government, the rush of Kiev to the West made these people speak about that there was no sense in future to have a tight cooperation with such an economical partner. They said that they could cope with the urgent and difficult economical bursts themselves. During the last one year and a half the alternate companies of the Ukrainian suppliers were created. Some of the enterprises changed their orientation to other goods, not connected with the Ukrainian contacts. Kondrashov warned that Ukraine had too little time gap to renew and to develop the economical relation with Russia, only 1-1.5 year. After that it would be impossible to bring back the earlier industrial cooperation.
No matter, how paradoxical it could be, but the weighted, politically non-oriented discussion already by the beginning of the second day has naturally flowed into the plane of the opportunities of Russia in overcoming the contradictions, stagnation and modernization of economy of Ukraine. Not only the directive tone of the European integrators, causing serious losses of the economy of our country, but also absence of the steps towards and the inability of the considerable financial support in the solution of the problems of the industry, agriculture, the open reluctance of promotion of the development of the science intensive branches of the economy of Ukraine put Europe to the second place.
The participants of the discussion were not deluding themselves, speaking about the rate, and problems of the wide-scale integration with Russia. The foreign colleagues helped Ukrainian participants to clear up the challenges, crisis phenomenon, which exist and may arise in the framework of the Russian economy, as well as among the members of the Customs Union. Altogether, not in general, but touching upon the separate directions of the economical integration, the experts produced, undoubtedly, more attractive prospects of Ukrainian and Russian cooperation. And at the end of the discussion all the participants were very satisfied at the news about the results of the negotiation of Yanukovych and Putin in Moscow. Already after the end of the discussion we analyzed and talked about the prospects and consequences of these decisions.
But it turned out that people were analyzing as well. And near the hotel Kiev, where the discussion took place, the participants of the rally on the Square of Constitution burst into applause after the information about the news from Moscow. Later on passing by the Euromaidan I heard the new hysterical notes in the voice of Yatsenyk, who felt the new cause for the new mobilization. “We will stay here till we will dismiss Yanukovych and till all the demands of the opposition will be fulfilled!” This is it!