MAIDAN – The Mercantile Aspects of Globalization in Central Europe



in the previous part that we talked to two legendary economists responsible for reforms in Hungary and Slovakia now we're going to welcome guests from three other countries to the Czech Republic Poland and Belarus before we start with our topic the Maidan and Ukrainian situation is talk about your country's logic Nehemiah we talked about major reforms that had to be carried out in Hungary in the 1990s and in Slovakia after 2000 were there any key reforms that implemented in the Czech Republic at that time I think we were quite successful with the reforms after 1989 at that time the economic team around vaslov Havel prepared very comprehensive reforms and in the atmosphere of that era they managed to push them through this really helped to kick-start the economy and guide it in the right direction afterwards you had to deal with some mistakes and deficiencies connected with those reforms but I guess that generally the Czech Republic has never been in a situation in some dramatic reforms were required there were times when the right-wing government could inspired by the Slovak tax reform and implemented it in a very unfavorable way some economic mistakes were made and it became a prototype for scenario that can discourage people from reforms so in my opinion we build a good foundation in the Czech Republic in the 20th century the conditions were good in the 1990s most of our reforms were carried out in the right way there were mistakes that cost us a lot of capital both economic and social and perhaps we are now waiting for another restart in our country the economic situation it's very good well the social one is not that great it's economics Coconino so there is not such a high demand for big reforms since the global economic crisis of 2008 reforms have been seen as austerity measures which does not make their reputation good let me note that I can't remember the economic situation in the Czech Republic ever being as critical as in Slovakia Hungary on the other hand especially in Slovakia it is always a question of prestige we're now actually catching up with the Czech Republic this is mean that the Czech Republic is undergoing stagnation an old teacher thought a lot even relatively speaking what has been achieved since the beginning of reforms in Slovakia required a lot of courage for example the changeover to the euro currency and you were praised for these steps you coped well I think the Slovak economy was reinforced by reforms while we in the Czech Republic did not really fight so much with corruption and that kind of mess it's always good I probably it's a tweetable actually out there and Slovakia is doing really well these days we managed to deal with many of these issues if you look at statistics and figures for instance those provided by Eurostat Slovakia ranks better on some indicators than the Czech Republic so the development of Slovakia following the reforms is impressive what I thought of the problem was not that corruption appeared in Slovakia much earlier at that time it was ruining the economy naturally you can't really build anything having a government that is heavily corrupted so it is really interesting to see that the economy got recovered and there was something for everyone economic reforms in Poland are associated with Leszek Balcerowicz sure Leszek Balcerowicz is a father of poland's economic transformation he has helped the position of Deputy Prime Minister twice of Minister of Finance and president of the National Bank of Poland it was a turning point when he was in office most of the economic changes that we can feel today happened in result of implementation of his concept and work of his team the next governments did not significantly obstruct these activities the work of the next governments which included such prominent ministers of finance like Marek Velka Gregor scott-carr Yaroslav bolts led to a larger deficit an increase of the debt of Poland and it was continuing no doubt the experience of Poland had the fact that it joined the European Union favorable conditions for reporters could become a basis for rapid growth during the crisis of 2008 to 2012 Minister otsutsuki Minister of Finance and Donald tusks government did not make any stupid decisions so I would praise him for not making the situation worse that is why the current government which has been in power for two years already is now benefitting from what had happened however its nationalization and centralization programmes are quite dangerous when we look at Belarus there is one issue in Central Europe we paid a lot of attention to Belarus several years ago there were even initiatives in the Czech Republic and Slovakia to support Belarus journalists used to go there then the host Lukashenko would lose just evaporated we knew there was a deficit in democracy but we did not really discuss Belarusian economy we discussed it a lot at the IMF because for a while our countries even were in the same group however it did not really become a big topic what can you say about Belarus and its economy it is lagging behind I'm not sure whether this is even the right word what can you say about Belarusian economy well we can complain that in all similar discussions or TV programs everyone always discusses the reforms in their countries and we always try to explain somehow why there are no reforms in Belarus it's quite a unique country one can complain but also be proud of living in such a country specific unique country with dictatorship for a long time Belarus was called the last dictatorship in Europe but farther to the east from Belarus the dictatorship is much more powerful our dictatorship in comparison seems rather light or over Minsk process the aim of which is to resolve the situation Dumba's takes place in Belarus so we are not a dictatorship country anymore however there are still no economic reforms there is such a phrase it's unique for each country when the money ends the reforms begin all the time but a ruse was receiving money from Russia in exchange for geopolitical preferences the role of Russia's main ally political and military ledge peninsula which is incorporated into Europe Moscow paid for all of that now tuition is I said Medvedev Russian Prime Minister there is no money but you take care his legendary phrase he told that to the Russian pensioners same thing Russia is now saying to Belarus we have less and less money for you paradoxically the fact that Russia can give less and less money encouraged the talks about the possible reforms in Belarus so I come back to the phrase when the money ends the reforms begin what kind of reforms this issue can be discussed the main convictions of analytics publicists opposition politicians is that for all these years Lukashenko has been avoiding markic structural economic reforms as they can undermine his power now he is the only one the only one oligarch the only boss the appearance of other powers groups oligarchs making pressure on the current authorities is not what he wants better the economy is weak but under his control the more strong diversified with different sources of influence the economy is the more dangerous the situation for him and becomes do you think that Belarusian economy could be characterized as poor according to the official statistics the average salary in Belarus is twice as high as in democratic Ukraine about five hundred US dollars so everything is relative of course Belarus is more welfare than Moldova and also than Ukraine in terms of average salary however the level of great economy is high in Ukraine people don't show their incomes but returning back to Belarus of course in comparison with the neighboring countries with Poland first of all Belarus is not a rich country but there are no significant discrepancies in the level of income no billionaires no oligarchs the state propaganda makes Belarusian society live in the illusion that there is social justice it's the main thing Lukashenko wants to prove to the Belarusians by saying that maybe we are not rich but everything is fair seventy-five percent of the Belarusian economy is still under state control I am preparing to the discussion and such topics as free market free trade will also be raised I found an article titled Belarus is ready become a member of WTO that was the article of the year 2003 many years have passed and Belarus is still ready to become a WTO member Belarus applied for membership in WTO 25 years ago and it's the only country which hasn't received confirmation why because this organization stands for free trade it means no opportunity to provide funding from the budget to state enterprises to appoint CEOs of these enterprises by the president that's why Belarus is still not a WTO previous speakers mentioned an interesting thing that without freedom in the long run there can be no prosperity freedom is always a precondition for prosperity we have some examples like China making efforts to prove this is possible could we say that in Belarus it is the other way around when talking about Poland we have mentioned the shock therapy which was successful in Belarus we have such a term shock without therapy meaning the GDP the level of income average salary have decreased during the last five years in Belarus now the average salary in Belarus is less than it was in 2010 then before the elections Lukashenko took effort to increase it to 500 USD in 2010 now in 2018 we have 450 US dollars the level of 500 US dollars hasn't been reached eight years in waste for the economy for the prosperity Belarussians see how their neighbors live they visit different countries read a lot and get more disappointed there are more and more immigrants the majority of migrants were going to Russia now because of some economic difficulties people prefer Poland Lithuania now nobody says that everything goes ok in Belarus they have a critical attitude towards the Belarusian economy I have three guests who specialized in economics hence we will discuss it next in the 1990s after the end of communism in the Czech Republic Poland and Slovakia we had to deal with basic economic things like what kind of taxes we would have what the pension system would be like whether health care would be free or not from the same regarding the education system we passionately discussed these topics then now in 2018 I don't think there are so many similar discussions in the Czech Republic Slovakia or Poland it seems like economic topics disappeared from public discussions am I wrong in my opinion you are wrong of course it is the topic of political debates whether the healthcare should be free or not should pensions be taxed or not what should the minimum wage level be should there be a minimum wage level at all there is no doubt that these are the topics of political debates however there exists a certain vision of the economic order and of the state's participation in the economy of private sectors participation in strategic areas in my opinion the perspective has changed after all having 30 years of experience we know that there could be different solutions different ways of reform implementation you've already asked the colleague from Belarus about that there can be not only a single solution as he said reforms can be different the experience they differ greatly there are various economic models in Europe Scandinavians German French Greek in my opinion we have rich experience in any liberal model there always has to be a sort of state social and cooperative involvement we haven't forgotten about cooperatives we have American protectionism the totalitarian system in China it works for example Belarus may paradoxically benefit from this situation as it now knows that there is no single scenario Belarus has a Licata you can choose different solutions which experiences to learn from it depends on the Preferences of the society sure if the reforms begin in Belarus American libertarian model will not be applicable it should be socialism as in Scandinavia Germany probably Belarussians like Germans like order your polish colleague says that in Poland in general the public finds political debates on economy important how about the Czech Republic did was it there I am on positio just about the some of the economic topics are a subject a public debate but in my opinion they are not the most important sometimes there are too many discussions on economy but then there is not enough space for topics that are really serious for instance our values or where we are going or how wealth is distributed within society but let me return to your questions feel there is a lack of courage to raise certain important topics such as taxation there was a Czech government that we proposed a very moderate reform of the pension system and the opposition was completely against it but then we had an absurd situation our Prime Minister was claiming it was necessary to decrease b80 on beer in pubs and these are the topics that get discussed but I think we should discuss more serious topics for example values as I mentioned the direction in which our country is headed or what our place in today's world is what I have missed is the question of national interest we don't know what our interests are and instead we find ourselves discussing v80 on beer in the 1990s economic topics was something that could help win the election in Slovakia it was slightly different because we had to deal with identity issues and nationalism what wins the elections in the Czech Republic these days just like in most countries around the world is populism and promises of things that cannot even be fulfilled I mean the approach of the world is complex but don't worry it will take care of everything for you this is a general trend I would say I think that the realistic and correct description of the world shadowed by populism mastering geometry exist in Slovakia we were sort of jealous in the 1990s we were jealous because you had bat Havel as a president and vassal of Klaus as a prime minister we were thinking alright you have the dilemma between the two it was much more civilized than in Slovakia which was dealing with stories of a kidnap president and so on but now we seem to be even known a Ivanka show president arose Nozawa Jima I am it I was quite jealous of the Slovak president I mentioned the good things about reforms but on the other hand the imprint of VAT sloth Krauss's policy on the current situation is really serious the people are still the same in the Czech Republic but personalities like Vaslav Havel were able to set a certain agenda and bring some enthusiasm but nowadays something seemed unbelievable we have these topics like human rights and justice which were perfectly normal and common in that era look at the way our current president taught in the 1990s it was so much different from what he is doing these days so we ended up discussing a Vig on beer an accepting simple solution many are additional Negro second Alonso certainly having a certain a straight do you think the elites are responsible for this the elites have played their role of course which is also a matter of communication and how the spanda political system is perceived people don't trust it anymore then there are some global phenomena that nobody had been ready for social networks marginalization of traditional mass media these mechanisms are actively used by those who are allegedly in opposition to the government but they never say what their actual goal is to you what wins the election in Poland you know I will disagree with some statements made by my colleague because the rhetoric about values debate won't help to win the elections people vote based on their interests social interest work conditions and the safety of their lives the parties which promised strengthening of the role of state 1 in the recent elections they promised to act in the national interests it's a very dangerous prospect and suddenly it turns out that not everything which is global international European is good despite the fact that Poland is a great beneficiary of European Union funds of the open borders and global market it turned out that having too much of German American or European is not good however the economic agenda matters it has to do with jobs work conditions with activities of the state for example should there be public transport should there be a bus or train connection between cities and towns this is also a precondition for opening the Polish market we have over 1 million employees from Ukraine in Poland this is good we benefit from that from Belarus yes we are waiting for a million I do not know if it is good for Belarus polish card yes but this is not a good idea therefore it creates a national tension so the economic agenda economic problems the issue of work conditions capital the banking sector in which I work these are the issues which matter when it comes to the elections I observe it from the outside and it seems that in Poland the strategy is that the election can be won by dividing the society you know there is a very popular phrase Davida at imperial third it was invented a hundred years ago it means that you facilitate conflicts between social groups clashes between people I understand but how come that a proud and experienced country such as Poland allows one CAD Sinskey divide it so much you know you are exaggerating with cats in ski that's because of the conjuncture the right-wing Liberal Party has been in power for the last eight years it has become less effective excuse me the voters were bored therefore someone had to come and start this division of the society who suffers from the youth and the elderly people he's cosmopolitan Europeans the polish nation is very homogeneous this is our misfortune we have almost 100 percent of poles that's why for us diversity which the European Union is full of is something not clear that's why it happened so that the party was the most simple program received a lot of support if I am not mistaken at the times of global crisis in 2008 all the European countries from France to Germany had a decrease in GDP only Poland demonstrated positive dynamics yes it was a result of joining into European Union in 2004 the previous government left a few billion euros of reserves they often forgot about that the government occurred since key in 2005 to 2007 from the government ah Donald Tusk at the beginning of the crisis managed to keep this dynamics let me repeat Poland was fortunate that it joined the union in the right time and under the best Editions and the government of Donald Tusk at the beginning of the crisis managed to keep this dynamics let me repeat Poland was fortunate they joined the union in the right time and under the best conditions this question might sound strange if I ask what decides the election in Belarus it may sound ridiculous taking into account that Lukashenko always wins but about 80 percent or something like that so the question of what wins the election in Belarus is not appropriate so why does Lukashenko win all the time first of all there are no elections in Belarus it's not a kind of a myth made up by the opposition it is a fact the elections are not transparent not democratical what Lukashenko says such a result will be he is ashamed to put 90% but not ashamed to put 80% in his favor however that doesn't exclude that currently 30 to 35 percent maximum 45% before the elections maybe 50% of people support him why that is a rather profound question we have been trying to find an answer to it for 23 years of course if there are fair democratic elections probably he won't win I mean if there were other candidates if they have an opportunity to run their campaigns the disappearances of Belarusian opposition figures in the late 1990s it's called disappearance but we know they were killed influenced greatly the political situation everyone who is in active opposition now remembers what happened to goncharov Zakharchenko and other opposition figures all the political system has been under control of Lukashenko for all these years as well as the ideological system the only media but starting from school Institute's work maybe you have forgotten in the Soviet times there were so-called ideologists the party secretaries play the role of them in Belarus they are now called commissioners for ideological issues each plant which produces some spare parts or farm which produces some Goods has his ideologist who explains the policy of the party as it used to be but in this case the policy of Lukashenko people or in open opposition look we have opposition parties but in them there are a lot of people who don't work who are opposition figures by vocation or occupy not serious positions in the mid to late 1990s belarusian opposition was represented by a prime minister then by a minister after the next elections there was a head of the university now there are leaders of opposition parties who haven't occupied any top positions and in the people's mind haven't reached anything in life not only as a leader of the opposition party for 20 years there has been an authoritarian regime of Lukashenko and when a serious struggle between he was elected in 1994 in 1996 there was a parliament seeking to impeach him then he dissolved the Parliament and appointed new MPs since then there has been no serious political struggle how Lukashenko was perceived by the society who even can't get any sociological data independent sociology was forbidden by Lukashenko the latest research was conducted 3 to 5 years ago then he forbid it we can only guess when finding out the opinion of our friends as there is no official sociological data however according to sociological research of the time 30 35 % and closer to the election date 40 to 45 percent of people support him there is no talk about 90 percent but for security services Oman special Police Electoral Commission's that's enough of course of all people who are against him go out to the streets maybe even the police will run away probably Belarussians have a different temper maybe they got used to living under Lukashenko the youth perceive him they are 20 years old a Lukashenko has been in office for 24 they haven't seen anyone else they can only see on TV that a president somewhere is being just a quick question about our countries there always seems to be a key topic in the Czech Republic he may be leaning towards Russia because of their president Poland's division of the society in Slovakia the murder of a Slovak journalist and corrupted government are the key topics there may be several topics in Belarus there were several of them when Lukashenko came to power the main topic was integration with Russia a lot of supporters of Belarusian independence were afraid that he wants to unite with Russia people from his circle mentioned such his phrase I grew our Belarus in the late 1990s when Yeltsin was weak probably he wanted to get the cap of the mana mark in the late 1990s when Yeltsin was weak probably he wanted to get the cap of the mana mark in Kremlin that's why the integration processes and the intention to unite two countries arose after that he would be the same Russian citizen as a rest and get the opportunity to become the president he was sure that was possible he was waiting for Yeltsin to get weaker appropriate conditions for that to happen however it happened that Putin came to office instead of week-old primakov yeah the young KGB agent Putin came to power everything finished in a few years Lukashenko understood that I started to build an independent Belarusian State of course he has a specific approach you live in the countries where there are no problems with national identity people speak their native language in our country the majority of people speak Russian however according to the census 40% of the population say they speak Belarusian and 70% say the Belarusian is their native language however in the cities the majority of people speak Russian it's difficult to develop national identity when some people consider themselves Soviet people others stand for integration with Russia others for integration with Europe your societies aren't so divided your societies have consensus on many issues in our country for a long time it was 50/50 50% for integration with Russia 50% for the EU after the situation in Crimea the number of people who support Russia increased they showed the power strength that Putin is cool the image of Russia improved in Belarus currently for us it is one of the main threats after 25 years of Independence Belarus starts considering that its independence is under threat that's the main thing Lujack you wanted to add something I just wanted to say that at the beginning it looked like there were two competing economic models one based on dictatorship and the other one based on freedom but I think it's wrong we should understand correctly what happened in China China was an incredibly poor country that used its enormous opportunities and communist technocrats seemed to be delivering good results at first in comparison with the achievements of Korea or Taiwan we can say that it only was a relative success so economic reforms and the level of prosperity in a country which has a dictatorship with no freedoms no free media no analysts who can critically assess the country is not something really worth to be discussed we can't really talk of a prosperous future of a country like that perhaps unless they miraculously find gold deposits in conclusion one brief question about Ukraine being hereit's might and Square and I say today's Ukraine what comes to your mind it's an opportunity an opportunity which can be used in the right way because there is a lot of energy I mean energy of people and the great potential of this country and I think Ukraine has found the right partners the European Union at the same time it is very difficult because there is this ongoing war sponsored by Russia which is making the country weaker and we can't even imagine the extent of this weakening then there are some problems with the government of course one needs to be an insider an expert to assess this correctly but there are some limitations for the country if we look at economic figures Ukraine has improved a lot but it needs to grow more than it currently does and there's a bigger risk we should not only look at figures and economy we need to make sure that people feel they are doing something for this country they need to do something for the country and feel the country is doing something for them I believe there will be this enthusiasm that people have now and then it will not disappear hopefully it will help to make changes for the better so you say it is an opportunity I mean an opportunity for improvement for progress the Ukraine can have and this is connected as a direction towards European democracies of course this development is slow I guess the Ukrainians dreamt for better access to free market and there are some obstacles now but I do believe there is a huge potential and you as a poll what do you think of today's Ukraine I will say it is a large country both in terms of population and in terms of territory it has strong civil society that after 30 years is aware of everything that could happen and that could state is weak it cannot function well institutionally and organizationally there is a lack of state effectiveness here despite the fact that there is democracy different parties all the formal procedures and a lot of opportunities have been missed I remember back in 2004 I was the vice minister at the meeting of Central European countries when president Kwasniewski spoke there at the orange Maidan it seemed they were all determined united 14 years have passed and we are all in a completely different place Ukraine is associated with the demon of nationalism polish Ukrainian Hungarian Russia these nationalisms are destructive and lead to nothing good there is also responsibility of the EU countries NATO's which promised too much in 2014 if there was not one thing that you're missing Ukraine could join the EU but today it sounds like a joke kind of confusion it was not a part of the plan significant things were not prepared and fixed and the tragedy we have today unfortunately there are a lot of wasted opportunities and chances and if my colleague says the glass is half-full I would say that is half-empty still Ukraine has a lot of work to make the dreams which were announced here come true when I say the word Ukraine to someone from Belarus what comes to your mind maybe yes but for all Belarussians I think a lot of Belarusian see Ukraine through the prism of Russian TV channel which dominates in Belarus about 90% of TV channels a Russian this negative attitude broadcasted every day even not negative but total propaganda spread by Russian TV is taken seriously by 50 to 60% of better I would say Democratic Belarussians who support Europe look at Ukraine with hope perceive it as a neighboring country which managed to overthrow his authoritarian leader in result of my day to go out to the streets and now of course not without difficulties but is building a new country took a pro-european course but even among Democratic Belarussians there is no unanimous excitement by Ukraine and Ukraine's experience there are several reasons firstly Ukraine is the only neighbor of Belarus which according to the official statistics and just by feeling lives of worse than Belarus it's difficult when you are surrounded by someone better wealthier and here is such a pleasure someone poor appeared Ukrainians they see that they went to live in Crimea they see what the situation is like not in Kiev where it is different in general ukrainians are poorer than Belarussians when it comes to material things no need to pay for doctors lower level of corruption and international institutions recognize that so it makes Belarusians feel that we are not the worst all the problems Ukraine are facing gives opportunity to say that on the one hand there is democracy but on the other hand there is no order an order is the main thing for Belarusian in Ukraine there is chaos few Belarussians can be happy with chaos if you don't take into account democracy political system but only natural temper we are like Germans and Italians Ukrainians Italians and Belarussians German if you're putting it simply such we have the approaches to life there are political experts who say that even when Belarussians decide to overthrow Lukashenko and a new democratic leader appears a lot of power will be concentrated in his hands the society won't prefer parliamentary Republic the historical reasons Belarussians won't have an authoritarian leader even if he is democratic in the previous democratic elections won by Lukashenko the result of Pozniak a democrat who would even say nationalist was also good like opposition leaders like shushkevich showed worse results logic will have to leave soon because of his flight so this is our last question and I will ask for a brief answer it will be about your countries and let's start with Belarus when I say Belarus what is your first Association Alekseyevich a noble literature laureate we have such a person well our neighbors Lithuanians Ukrainians do not have it's a person Belarusians are proud of there is no doubt that Nobel Prize in Literature do you mean modern Belarus or in general if we take something that has to do with everyday life then it will be draniki Bramber achey our national cuisine also Belarusian nature forests by the way Belarus is in the Guinness Book of World Records for the biggest wetlands area it may sound even funny because Belarussians by their nature are not active not ardent and at the same time there are the biggest swaps in the world when it comes to national identity everyone in Belarus has a different opinion there is no consensus as in the majority of countries in terms of national leaders one will say that Kerina Belarusian first book printer the first man who published the Bible in Eastern Europe before Ukrainians and others others will say master of the leader of Belarus in Soviet times others will say Gromyko the Minister of Foreign Affairs some will even say Lukashenko some Alekseyevich different people have different opinions on what Belarus and what about Poland Poland is in a very dangerous situation today on the one hand society is quite satisfied the level of consumption the standards of living the state of infrastructure the quality of work and leisure are very high but it is true that two million poles have fled to seek happiness in Great Britain Ireland and Germany on the other hand it is a state that is slowly starting to lose these democratic institutions we have fewer and fewer fair courts the justice system is now under the control of the government we live in a country in which it is getting less and less free media we have a state which tries to take under control higher education and the autonomy of universities we have a very dangerous situation taking into account that we are a member of the European Union NATO were praised for reforms there comes a moment when oxygen is blocked and you even don't notice there is the famous case of the Frog which was put into the water and didn't even know that it was being koves we're in a situation where the European Union the European Parliament the European Commission when answered the European values in Poland on the basis of which we entered the European Union 15 years ago this is disturbing nevertheless as a person working in a banking sector I would like to repeat that the economy is in a great condition however I agree here with my colleague that the economic situation may be good as in Belarus but it doesn't automatically mean that society is also happy you have to be very careful and keep this economic social and democratic balance and finally let me ask as a Slovak about the Czech Republic when you say the Czech Republic I think most people will first think of Prague the amazing city of that swappable one of the best politicians at the turning point of the century's history some people would think of Jaromir Jagr an ice hockey player some think of it's got a cars and some think of beer so there can be various ideas and mostly the connotations are positive but I would be happy if we also came up with connotations of Europe understanding what it means to be European and to contribute to European values I don't think we are really fulfilling this but on the other hand the situation is not as bad as we sometimes tend to think and another important thing from my point of view is that the Czech Republic was really lucky we were lucky to overcome the negative legacy of the communist regime and to build the Democratic Society similarly to what you did and actually some Slovak results are even better than the Czech ones but hopefully we will also do better and the future I'd like to remind that it is easy to criticize but let's realize we find it difficult having only a little of Russian interference in our political system in media and in terms of cybercrime yet it is enough to do terrible things to our democracy even to the USA and now compare this to what happens in Ukraine what Russia does to Ukraine is worse than its interference in Western countries so we should realize that Russia's aggression towards Ukraine is much worse than we could even imagine not serve as an excuse for bad government in our countries for example the European Commission is considering 20 billion euros of the Czech Republic to sustain its development and help to catch up with Western countries the economic help provided to Ukraine is often in the form of loans and the sums are significantly smaller this makes me think we should act as if we were in a more complicated situation we've had guests from the Czech Republic Belarus and Poland thank you very much for joining us this was the fourth episode of the Maidan debate club this one was mainly focused on economy but not only that Vladimir you were listening to the discussion what impressed you most for me it was interesting to listen about the comparison of the countries of Central Europe with Ukraine for example the process of reforms and for me it's very important to see the differences because in fact like my colleague said in Slovakia in Hungary in the Czech Republic it was easier to conduct reforms because the system the socialist system collapsed and reforms were implemented from scratch in Ukraine we see that the new oligarchic capitalistic system appeared and has replaced the socialist system it's very strong it didn't disappear so reforms are taking place in conditions of a powerful oligarchy system and the Maidan didn't change that it only softened it in a way that's why the reforms are going slower and those people expect it and that's why you need to take into account this difference when laotian bockris was here he described the Hungarian situation as a dead end meaning that one could not really do anything from inside at this point when he said that I was wondering maybe you in Ukraine have a better situation than an EU and NATO member state in Ukraine it's much more dynamic because in Hungary there is one force that controls everything in Poland we also see an attempt to create one force that will create everything on the contrary in Ukraine there is pluralism we have five six seven different forces and basically the country can choose different directions and we don't know which direction our country will choose after the elections in 2019 it can choose pro-european implementing reforms quicker or maybe the reforms will just slow down or stop and some populace will come to power anti-western populist maybe even pro-russian sentiment will get stronger so in this sense Ukraine is much more interesting but the stakes are much higher here I would say it was interesting to hear from our Belarusian colleague that in Belarus many people look at the Ukraine thinking alright we're not doing as bad as the situation in Ukraine is worse would you say that the situation in Ukraine is worse than in Belarus if we talk about politics then of course no Ukraine is much more democratic we talk about the social and economic situation then yes and this is one of the big problems of the reforms that are taking place now the reforms which are successful maybe just except for the police reform happened on a macroeconomic level we have the gas sector reform but can a common citizen feel it the only see the increase in prices for gas we can talk about the procurement reform but can a common system feel it they can only see an increase in prices a dramatic increase in prices and for many people the social economic situation is worse even comparing to what it was in a times of Yanukovich so I take a critical view of reforms as they neglect the issue of society's prosperity some very good things have been done on a macroeconomic level they managed to stabilize the country but the issue of the welfare of the citizens was neglected and this is what the populist pay attention to because their argument is very simple even mokosh from slovakia who is an advisor to your prime minister he said that in the past four years has been more in Ukraine than in the previous two decades yet on the other hand he says many things have not been completed or are happening very slowly he has mentioned two things which surprised me privatisation and private ownership in land warder why are there problems in these areas I agree with Yvonne completely on the one hand in the last four years we have seen more reforms than in the previous 25 on the other hand many reforms haven't been completed the problem with private ownership in land is quite serious because on the one hand we say the farmers will have more resources if this land belongs to them when they can sell it or take a loan against it currently huge agricultural holdings which simply rent land dominate in the agricultural sector but if you go to the regions and talk to the common people you'll see to what extent people are against this reform against the market of land there are two main stereotypes the first one is as follows big foreign investors will come and buy all the land so we are kind of selling our own land and the mythology of land is very important view craniums because it is our main resource and the second one is that local landlords will come who are very powerful now among them some local businessmen and they will force farmers to sell their land and they will use violence against and that's why they are afraid of that in fact this is an issue that can cause a very serious discussion and big problems in Ukraine when it comes to privatization it's very simple one of the main corruption schemes in Ukraine is connected with state enterprises when you get state subsidies for it and still part of it so these oligarchs many of which are simply the parasites suffer from privatization and things getting more transparent and finally Lujack Niedermayer from the Czech Republic said that the idea that occured to him when I said Ukraine was an opportunity and that's full of hope Vlado mia what do you think of when I say Ukraine of course I think of these opportunities but I also think that the history of Ukraine is a history of a borderland on the one hand it's good because this means the melting pot of cultures and I have such a metaphor the Ukraine is like the Balkans but in the Balkans you see Catholic Orthodox and Muslim cultures distributed between different nations and we have it all in one nation and Ukraine is also the country that was at the border of huge empires austro-hungarian Ottoman and Russia but for Ukraine being at the border is both an opportunity and a problem because the biggest conflicts can take place at the border and the classical work on that is blood lands by Timothy Snyder he describes how a borderland a country on the border can turn into a blood line although Snyder was writing about it in the 30s and the 40s it remains relevant so on the one hand it is a country of big opportunities on the other hand of big risks and serious instability four years ago the Maidan events were taking place right at the place behind us there were fights and people were dying and after the fights were over there was hope this hope still here after four years as he gotten stronger decreased for me it still remains strong for me everything that happened afterwards showed us how serous mind and was because Russia perceived it as an event against itself and they started up to attack so even for Russia it was a serious event serious to such an extent that it's turned it into an aggressor but of course now we see that Maidan tried to change everything at once but the system has inertia so we have to think about a more long-term perspective in terms of evolution an ongoing process and here the main enemy is disappointment and frustration disappointment and frustration exists both in Ukraine and in Europe concerning Ukraine this is a feeling we need to fight thank you you

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