Ukrainians are generally convinced of the need for assistance from the EU and the US. Quite an insignificant number of citizens oppose receiving assistance from the Western governments. These are the key findings of the opinion poll results on the European Union and the United States of America actions for support of Ukraine, presented by the New Europe Center on October 24.
The speakers include Hugues Mingarelli, EU Ambassador to Ukraine, Head of the EU Delegation to Ukraine; Sergiy Solodkyy, First Deputy Director of the New Europe Center; Olha Stefanyshyna, Director of the Government Office for European and Euro-Atlantic Integration; Serhii Leshchenko, Deputy Chief of the Head Department for Foreign Policy and European Integration of the Presidential Administration; Ruslan Kermach, Political analyst, Ilko Kucheriv Democratic Initiatives Foundation.
At the beginning of the event Sergiy Solodkyy presented the key findings of the opinion poll survey.
“Most Ukrainians consider pro-European reforms necessary, even if the EU does not offer Ukraine a membership perspective,” First Deputy Director of the NEC noted.
Ruslan Kermach drew attention to the fact that an absolute majority of Ukrainians are confident in the existence of external influence on Ukraine:
“80% of Ukrainians believe that there is a foreign influence on Ukraine. Under the conditions of globalization, it is difficult to deny such an influence. The United States and the EU are considered by Ukrainians as the main actors that have an impact on Ukraine. According to Ukrainians, the International Monetary Fund and Russia also have a significant influence on Ukraine”.
“Ukrainians most positively assess the external influence on Ukraine from the EU (26,4%), most negatively – influence from Russia (66%),” analyst of Ilko Kucheriv Democratic Initiatives Foundation added.
In turn, Hugues Mingarelli stressed that the European Union is not trying to influence Ukraine, but seeks to help our country modernize the economy and society:
“Regarding to the EU, we do not try to exert any kind of influence. Ukrainian people and Ukrainian leadership over the last 15 years have consistency said very clear that they want to move closer to the European Union. Ukrainian people has paid an extremely high price to get the Association Agreement implemented. This Agreement has clear objectives to deepen the political association of Ukraine with EU and promote the gradual integration of the Ukrainian economy to the EU single market. This is what EU doing in this country. We are not try to exert any kind of influence, we are just cooperating with our Ukrainian to help them modernize the Ukrainian society and economy along the line with this Association Agreement. Exerting an influence gives a feeling that we try in not very clear and open way to influence choices for Ukrainian people to decide which kind of country they want to living”.
“We are ready to share our experience how to have an open and democratic society based on the market economy, but it is up to Ukrainian people and Ukrainian leadership to decide what they want to do within their country,” EU Ambassador to Ukraine said.
“I don’t like the word “foreign assistance” I prefer to speak about cooperation programs. There are no need to Ukrainian people to be assisted, they are not beggars. The EU has been mobilizing (for Ukraine – NEC) over the last four years between 12 and 13 billion euros and 10 billion euros (from that amount of money – NEC) comes under the form of loans. Loans is not an assistance,” Hugues Mingarelli added.
And Olha Stefanyshyna drew attention to the fact that Ukraine has already implemented a number of important reforms for rapprochement with the European Union:
“This opinion poll survey reflects public opinion, but is the tip of the iceberg. Because when we talk about US and EU assistance to Ukraine, we often forget about how much has already been done, in particular, in the context of the implementation of the Association Agreement. We will not see in the media that we have approved energy, environmental, transport strategies that are completely based on the European Union’s approaches. We do not often hear about these things in the news because they are quite boring and bureaucratic”.
According to Serhii Leshchenko, the more comprehensive communication efforts should be carried out inside Ukraine regarding what international aid is in fact for our country:
“The growth of gas prices is perceived by Ukrainians as being imposed by the International Monetary Fund and the United States. We need communication efforts to make people realize that these financial assistance is essential, not imposed”.
“The financial assistance of the European Union and the United States will not be able to cover all the needs of Ukraine, but it is a positive indicator for such international actors as the IMF,” Leshchenko noted
These are the answers to the questions offered by the New Europe Center within the framework of an opinion poll conducted by the Ilko Kucheriv Democratic Initiatives Foundation and the Kyiv International Institute of Sociology from August 16 to 28, 2018. 2,041 respondents have been interviewed (the marginal error is 2.3%).