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Leading Ukrainian think tanks got together in Brussels to provide cutting edge analysis of developments in Ukraine on 5 March, 2014.


Leading Ukrainian think tanks got together in Brussels to provide cutting edge analysis of developments in Ukraine on 5 March, 2014. The seminar was also an opportunity to present the newly established Liaison Office for Ukrainian think tanks in Brussels. Centre for Political and Legal Reforms is a member of the Liaison Office. At the meeting it was represented by Head of the Board Ihor Koliushko.

The topics ranged from the inspiration of Maidan to the political future of the country, and from the questions of unity to the future economic strategies. “The Russian aggression should not prevent good planning of reforms or provide an excuse to diminish transparency and the role of civil society to monitor transformation,” Executive Director of the European Endowment for Democracy Jerzy Pomianowski stated in his opening remarks. 

Two weeks after the deadly violence on the streets of Kyiv, four days after Russian troops entered Crimea and a day before the EU’s extraordinary Summit on Ukraine, the event came at a very tense moment. A question that covered all topics of discussion was: How do we move forward with democratic reform, while our country is under aggression? Oleksandr Sushko, Scientific Director of the Institute for Euro-Atlantic Cooperation, underlined the gravity of the situation: “When you are at war, it is not easy to speak of reforms”.

Did Maidan protestors foresee such questions when they began calling for change at the end of November? Yevhen Bystrytsky, Executive Director of the Renaissance Foundation, noted the middle class as the moving force of Maidan. Driven by the ideals of “Dignity” and “Justice”, he describes a “real protest of the citizens”, underlining that only 3% were linked to political parties, which had driven the 2004 Orange Revolution. Yet despite a shared driving force, no consensus exists between all Maidan actors today.

Beyond Maidan, many underlined the importance of dialogue between the regions. Although Razumkov Centre’s survey showed that a clear majority wanted a united Ukraine (with the most in the South and East, respectively 14% and 13%, looking for separation), the upcoming referendum in Crimea naturally points to much concern. Olha Ajvazovska, Head OPORA Civic Network’s Board, also insisted on the need to ensure that the entire country participates in the upcoming elections, to ensure their legitimacy. Again the risks remain big: “We will not have peaceful calm presidential elections due to Russian interference,” she foresees.

Among the most listed priorities, decentralization of power and anti-corruption measures were brought up again and again. A call for international oversight was also reiterated on a few occasions. Ihor Koliushko, Head of the Centre for Political and Legal Reform’s Board added: “We have the expertise and the knowledge of democractic reform. But we do not have the supremacy of law”.

Although the country’s future perspectives remained very unclear, the significance of today’s developments and of the EU’s support were crystal clear: “Maybe the future of Europe is being created now in Ukraine, in the centre of Europe”, Iryna Bekeshkina, Director of the Ilko Kucheriv Democratic Initatives Foundation, stated. “And there is a lot of room for the international community and the EU to step up its support of the reforms,” Olena Prystayko, Head of the new Liaison Office of Ukrainian Think Tanks in Brussels, concluded. 

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The Liaison Office of Ukrainian think-tanks in Brussels is being set up to give the latter greater access to EU decision makers. It will also serve as a permanent information channel on Ukraine, as a contact point for those in Brussels dealing with or interested in Ukraine. Headed by Olena Prystayko, it is currently housed in the Brussels office of the European Endowment for Democracy.

The Liaison Office Member organizations:

1.      Centre for Political and Legal Reforms

2.      DiXi Group

3.      Europe without Barriers

4.      European Centre for Democracy Development

5.      Ilko Kucheriv Democratic Initiatives Foundation

6.      Institute for Euro-Atlantic Cooperation

7.      Internews – Ukraine

8.      OPORA Civic Network

9.      Ukrainian Independent Centre for Political Studies (UCIPR)

The Liaison Office Observers:

1.   Center UA

2.   Centre for Society studies

3.   Institute of World Policy

4.   International Center for Policy Studies (ICPS)

5.   Razumkov Centre

6.   Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union

7.   Ukrainian Institute for Public Policy (UIPP)

8.   Ukrainian School of Political Studies

9.   Office of Economic and Social Developments

10.  Journal Ї

11.  European Dialogue

12.  Polissya Foundation for International and Regional Studies

13.  Center of Legislative Initiatives

14.  Centre for International Security

15.  Crimea Independent Centre of Policy Researches and Journalists

16.  Kharkiv Institute of Social Researches

17.  Center for Regional Studies

18.  Odessa Civil Institute of Social Technologies

For additional information, please contact Ms.Olena Prystayko, Executive Director of Ukrainian Think Tanks Liason Office in Brussels: tеl.: +32 (0)488 292 743, Email: