The world we dreamt of in Lugano and how to transform it into action

01 February 2023
The world we dreamt of in Lugano and how to transform it into action
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Text republished from Ukrayinska Pravda 

Different world 

It is a world where Russians do not erase cities and people from the face of the Earth. You start tentatively feeling how it looks right after crossing the border. Later, you find the confirmation in the eyes of Europeans busy with something very mundane, Europeans who have not heard the whining of sirens or bomb explosions even once. 

This is the world where the attitude towards Ukraine has already changed. Ukraine is no longer perceived as an underdeveloped democracy but a strong and important partner for Europe, a society that is “hundred years ahead of Switzerland” because it has Diia. 

In this world perspectives and partnerships for Ukraine are quite different. 

40 countries arrived not just to express their solidarity with our people in our fight for democratic values but to also assure that our troops will get all the support that is necessary, to propose their support in the restoration, to promise to take care of our citizens whom they sheltered, and to help with funding our restoration. 

Safe world 

Safe Europe became possible because Ukraine became its shield. Friendly neighbors call our warriors “angels” who protect from the war their people and other peoples who could be next. These other peoples are afraid of this possibility. Britain from the beginning set the highest bar in providing armaments and training for our warriors, and it forced all other countries to try to reach this bar. 

Armament supplies were not a topic of the conference but they were a default ground to talk about everything else. 

Videos and photos from the cities devastated by Russia at every corner reminded the esteemed nobility of the western world that this war is quite close and definitely real. 

Prospects to accept Ukraine as a NATO member state did not sound like something ephemeral anymore but as a conscious understanding that Europe needs Ukraine to become more combat-ready. However, there were more declarations in Lugano than actual readiness to work here and now. 

Ukraine has to get the support of Germans, Italians, French, and other European peoples, and then their leaders will be forced to act more decisively. We will get more armaments and financial support while the voters in western countries support us as people. They are the main force pushing their politicians who are making decisions. 

Today, we have an opportunity to tell people from other countries about the atrocities committed by Russia against us in real-time. 

Soft power was a decisive factor that ensured that we started getting armaments and money. 

We have many opportunities to fight Russian propaganda in other countries. We should be restless in telling the truth. It is time to relaunch our communication with people in western countries. That is the way to sustain and increase the provision of armaments. 

Just world 

Punishment for Russia for all the atrocities committed against our people should be inevitable: for torture, murders, destruction of schools and hospitals, destruction of cultural monuments and buildings, pillaging, and all other evils the enemy committed. The West is ready to help with collecting evidence and is ready to prosecute. 

Protection of the rule of law also has to become a must for every democratic country. Every state or corporation that continues to trade with the aggressor, to buy grain stolen from Ukraine by Russia while enjoying cheap gas and oil should realize that it violates the rule of law. 

Even if it may seem to European leaders now that their actions or inaction will have no effect on the processes in their bureaucratic and business structures, such actions and inaction have every chance of becoming a precedent for ignoring the rule of law that can lead to a number of negative consequences. 

Justice within a country starts with judicial reform. It is a requirement for integration into the European Union and eligibility for receiving funding for post-war reconstruction and engaging investments. 

Mentions of reforms now sound not as a whip or reproach but as something self-explanatory, something that has to be implemented in parallel with all the aid our state is receiving. 

One gets the impression that at the level of EU managers and the government of Ukraine there is already an agreement on the inevitability of the process of changes on the way to EU membership. We have to keep our eyes open, though, so that these changes are actually implemented and their quality is the highest. Because of the war, Ukraine received unprecedented unity of the EU regarding our role in a united Europe, and this is the chance that we must use to restore justice and bring the world back to balance. 

Renovated Ukraine and the new world 

“Building back better” is a message from all delegates from the western world. I was the main message in Lugano. 

Ukraine can grow out of this war as a stronger country, with stronger institutions, a more stable economy. This is not only our interest, it is our moral duty, — these are the words of Ursula Von Der Leyen, head of the European Commission. The European Commission is the platform proposed by Europe as a place to shape strategic priorities for cooperation and changes in Ukraine. Wide and proactive involvement of international stakeholders is expected. And most importantly, all reconstruction actions must be based on the needs of Ukrainians, and changes implemented on the principles of good governance. 

To get help, including funding for restoration and integration into the EU, Ukraine has to expand and deepen reforms, plan reconstruction inclusively and taking into account the real needs of Ukrainians, as well as ensure transparency and accountability of how it is spending this funding. 

All this seems simple. However, for our authorities, it is a huge challenge. They will have to make a quantum jump in building democracy and move from an electoral machine to a sustainable system where citizens do not simply delegate power through elections, but real co-creators of state policies. 

And also to find the will and strength to fight high-ranking corruption, to entrust the policy-making process to the government and governments, and not to entrust everything to the Office of the President. 

We already have a decentralized system of public government which, among other things, made us so strong in this war. It should be also the foundation we must rely on in rebuilding. 

How modern Ukrainian elites will respond to these challenges will depend on the amount of funding for our reconstruction from both the public and private sectors. In other words, the developed and rich Ukraine-2030 presented in Lugano will become a reality if all participants of its reconstruction adhere to their commitments. 

Civil society now has more work than ever. In all its forms, it must become an accomplice to changes, interact with authorities at all levels and businesses, generate and propose alternative ways of solving complex problems, monitor transparency and accountability, and persistently force the authorities to take us to a new level. 

While the Armed Forces of Ukraine are keeping the window of opportunity for us, we have no right to lose the opportunity. It is a dream that will not just get Ukraine to the next level but also pave the way for further development of the western world. To make it come true is to take the right place among the leaders of the democratic world. We have to work on this now, at the home front.