Last week, the third Ukraine Reform Conference was held in Toronto. Articles with quotes by famous politicians and civil society representatives proliferated in the media. Some may ask, though: what’s the point?

The first Ukraine Reform Conference was held in London in 2017 and was, according to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, designed to “unite all of our most loyal partners around supporting Ukraine.” Moreover, Mr. Klimkin already said then that this event should become regular.

That’s what happened. In 2018 the meeting was held in Copenhagen, and last week, we got together in Canada.

It is not a secret that the issue of Ukrainian reforms and progress is regularly discussed at various meetings, forums and conferences both in Ukraine and abroad.

However, it is this annual conference which is rightfully considered the key international event for our country, since it is the only three-day event focused exclusively on Ukraine, where Ukraine is the only thing discussed.

This focus provides its own special benefits. At these meetings, we can show Ukraine as a good “product” that is worth working on.

We can reiterate that we are moving in the right direction, demonstrate it to our foreign partners and feel certain of their support.

We emphasize that changes are possible, that they are happening.

The scope of the event in Toronto is genuinely impressive.

Official delegations from 31 countries, over 800 participants, including ministers of foreign affairs, representatives of international organizations and financial institutions, experts, activists, MPs, representatives of local self-government, the military and law enforcement.

The conference gathered quite a large audience and an astounding number of interesting participants who care about Ukraine getting better.

However, it is this annual conference which is rightfully considered the key international event for our country, since it is the only three-day event focused exclusively on Ukraine, where Ukraine is the only thing discussed.

 

It should be noted that the conference was attended by a big group of civil society representatives. Currently, the trust in civil society remains among the highest – it is trusted by 38% of the population. In this context, we should mention the so-called Toronto Principles, developed specifically for this conference by civil society organizations, which contain descriptions of important reforms and set the tone for Ukraine’s further development. Given that, major participation of activists is only natural.

Apart from our international friends, however, the idea of Ukraine’s achievements had to be conveyed to another recipient – perhaps, a much less obvious one.

This year’s conference was held against the backdrop of major governmental changes in Ukraine. According to surveys, the parliamentary elections will also lead to a new team getting a majority. This means that the focus areas of cooperation should be developed taking into account the plans of the new authorities.

During the presidential campaign we had the impression that the team was ready to continue the reforms, but do it in their own way. This idea was only reinforced by their active criticism of the then-incumbent president, who claimed to be behind all the reforms or attempts at reforms throughout his term.

That is why everyone in the country and beyond started fearing that everything that had been achieved during the previous five years would have to be reformatted or done over.

A month after the inauguration, the president’s team has managed to debunk this idea at least partly. The message that positive reforms should be maintained started appearing at all kinds of meetings.

At the first day of the Conference, several people highlighted the fact that Ukraine had achieved quite a lot during the last five years, so it would be best to keep the good that had been done. And to develop new things. And the impression was that the president’s inner circle has heard the message and taken t into account.

Of course, a lot of the talk a the Conference was about the problems that keep worrying the Ukrainian society. Macroeconomic stability was brought up, as was the judicial reform.

It was emphasized several times that the anti-corruption reform had to continue, and the rule of law had to be ensured. All these points were indicated as priorities.

Overall, now in Kyiv, the aftertaste is quite good. Useful discussions and some good food for thought.

What next?

We talked, and that’s great. We summed up the results of the last five years. Now, we need to get down to new achievements.

The most important thing is that we have something new to show off as our achievements at next year’s Conference.

Andrii Borovyk, specially for Ukrainska Pravda.

We talked, and that’s great. We summed up the results of the last five years. Now, we need to get down to new achievements.