Professor Gardner discusses Ukraine's rise since its 'dramatic' recession in the 90s. He interprets this particularly from the perspective of the economy while examining other factors such as football and Ukraine's relationship with Russia. Professor Gardner also looks at Ukraine's integration with Europe and possible ascension into the EU.
Professor Gardner discusses Ukraine’s rise and possible ascension into the EU. Initially, he focuses on the dreadful state of the Ukrainian economy throughout the 1990s, with 20% lost before its independence and a steady 9% annual loss in growth. Gardner identifies the turning point as 2000 where Prime Minister Yushchenko’s reform package transitions the country onto a growth path, now steadily growing at an annual 7%. However, although Gardner says the country has caught up what it has lost, it is still below the transition country average and faces both internal and external challenges. These include skyrocketing inflation, large current account deficit, depreciation of currency, and a substantial trade deficit. In addition, Ukraine’s internal political chaos has led to unreliability in the country’s policy constancy. Externally, Ukraine is caught between a reluctant EU and an aggressive Russia as Dr. Gardner puts it.
The latter half of Professor Gardner’s talk focuses primarily on Ukraine’s integration with Europe. He notes the various ratings Ukraine receives as a transition country in the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD). Overall, Ukraine received a three out four in the transition index. He explains increasing mobile phone use, bank reform, small scale business success, and price liberalization as Ukraine’s strengths on the scale. On the other hand, Ukraine’s weaknesses lie partly in its competition policy and the riskiness of the Ukrainian Stock Exchange. He also cites various key integration signals such as Ukraine’s co-hosting of the 2012 Euro Championship football tournament and its exports to Europe. Professor Gardner believes for Ukraine to make the EU list it will have to raise its EBRD score and rewrite its constitution.
Prof. Gardner also kindly took questions and further discussed a variety of issues. One notable point was that when asked what single move could substantially shift the nation forward and away from Russia, Professor Gardner identified further opening the trade relationship with Europe by reducing trade barriers as key. He also addressed internal political conflict, language issues, and referendums.
This event is sponsored jointly by the Center for Russian, East European and Eurasian Studies and the Forum on Contemporary Europe.