This is the first selection we have made during a full-scale war. Thanks to the Defence Forces, this became possible, and we managed to add to the USPS Community another group of caring and active leaders who have achieved success in various fields and, most importantly, have the desire to apply their experience in the development and post-war reconstruction of Ukraine.
We continue to work for qualitative changes in the state and direct all efforts to unite people around shared values and valuable ideas. And we cannot be stopped on this path.
At the opening of the seminar, the executive director of the Agency for Legislative Initiatives, the director of the USPS, Svitlana Matviienko, welcomed the new members of the Community and emphasised that the First Session of the School is always about confronting the challenges of Ukrainian reality, checking value orientations and sincere discussions about the present and future of Ukraine, about that of finding the right ways to interact — with each other and with the state.
The European future of Ukraine: the path we have to take
The Deputy Prime Minister for European and Euro-Atlantic Integration of Ukraine, Olha Stefanishyna, together with the editor-in-chief of the online publication “Ukrainska Pravda” Sevgil Musayeva, spoke to the group about the most crucial trajectory of the development of the Ukrainian state — Ukraine’s path to the EU.
During the conversation with the participants, Olha talked about communication with European partners during the first days of the full-scale russian invasion, about the fact that at that time, not everyone understood the scale of Ukraine’s needs in the war, which was unfolding on more than a thousand kilometres of the front line. We also discussed the path of European integration from February 24, 2022, to today and the “homework” that we must complete in order to obtain the status of an EU member state.
War and Crimea: How a full-scale invasion is changing the peninsula
The nearness of the de-occupation of the Crimean Peninsula is a genuine prospect that should be thought about now, working out strategies for economic recovery, security measures, and approaches to ensuring responsibility at various levels. Yes, on certain issues regarding reintegration, discussions are still ongoing, but the state bodies are unanimous on the key point: after de-occupation, Crimea must be included in absolutely all Ukrainian processes in order to avoid past mistakes and gaps.
The participants spoke candidly about the future of the Crimean Peninsula with Tamila Tasheva, the Permanent Representative of the President of Ukraine to the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and a 2021 USPS alumna. Maria Tomak, head of the Crimean Platform Service, moderated the discussion panel.
The future of the Ukrainian court
Even in conditions of constant and meticulous attention from the mass media and civil society, Ukrainians have accumulated many questions about the judiciary. So, what is the court system? What is it now, and what can it become? Can judicial discretion be eliminated?
The details of the changes in the judicial system of Ukraine were discussed with Ivan Mishchenko, the head of the Competition Commission, for the selection of candidates for the positions of members of the Supreme Court, a judge of the Commercial Court of Cassation as part of the Supreme Court. In particular, the speaker talked about the positive consequences of greater openness of the judicial system to the public and its norms and procedures.
Demographic shifts in Ukraine due to the full-scale russian invasion
Demographic forecasts are the foundation of all post-war development predictions – economic, security, social, environmental, etc. But forecasts should be based on data, which is currently extremely scarce – the last population census in independent Ukraine was conducted in 2001.
How to plan recovery after the war, whether Ukraine is threatened with a demographic catastrophe, what should be the migration policy in the war and post-war period and whether there will be someone to rebuild Ukraine after the victory, the participants of USPS discussed together with Ella Libanova, a scientist in the fields of socio-economics, demography and labour economics, Director of the Ptoukha Institute for Demography and Social Studies of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine.
Conversation with the First Lady of Ukraine
This year, the First Lady of Ukraine, Olena Zelenska, visited the USPS. After the beginning of the full-scale invasion, she assumed the responsible role of the ambassador of the Ukrainian people on the international stage. Olena Zelenska appears in front of presidents, speakers of parliaments and other high-ranking officials to communicate on an equal footing. Using soft power and cultural diplomacy, she convinces the world to support Ukraine by all means.
Participants of USPS spoke with the First Lady about the reconstruction of cities according to the barrier-free philosophy, restoration of human capital, preservation of mental health of the nation, change of the social paradigm in matters of education and upbringing of children, emotional stability and experience of war.
War, peace, and the health care system
Pavlo Kovtoniuk, co-founder of the Ukrainian Healthcare Center (UHC) and 2021 USPS alumnus, spoke and discussed with the group one of the fundamental human rights – the right to medical care. Throughout independence, there have been many attempts to change the medical system, but they have always been met with resistance. After all, during its long existence, it grew into a system with its “feudal lords” and the practice of turning deficits into “trade access” to receiving aid.
With Pavlo, the participants discussed the peculiarities of the functioning of the medical sphere, which remained from Soviet times, assessed the impact of the health care reform in martial law conditions, and also talked about the future effects of the reform.
Russia's responsibility: justice
The group spoke about lawfare, i.e. war with the enemy in the legal field, with Anton Korynevych, Ambassador-at-large at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine, Doctor of Law, associate professor, and honoured lawyer of Ukraine. With him, the participants had time to discuss the decision of the International Criminal Court, the formation of a coalition for creating a Special Tribunal regarding the crime of russian aggression against Ukraine, and future mechanisms for reparations.
Among the important interim results, the speaker noted that we already have a relatively strong coalition of 33 states that are engaged in solving the issue of creating a Special Tribunal. However, this is only the beginning of the way to the approval of this plan by the international community: in order to implement total justice, Ukraine needs to achieve the creation of an entirely new mechanism to hold the entire state accountable for the start of the war.
Ukraine today and the day after tomorrow
When we talk about the modern Ukrainian context, pressing questions immediately arise: what are we taking from our past, and what are we losing on the path of transformation? How do we cross the chasm with a few jumps? How not to repeat past mistakes and finally find your place? The participants talked about challenges for Ukrainian society with Yulia Mostova, journalist, co-founder, and editor-in-chief of ZN.UA (“Dzerkalo Tyzhnia”).
The ability to pose large-scale questions and challenges should become our need, and mental modernisation should be one of the main tasks. Now it is necessary to make every effort so that the moment of “Ukrainian global hype, respect and surprise” works to attract advanced processes, technologies, and professionals. And to do everything possible to eliminate all the defects that hindered the development of Ukraine.
Processing manufacturing as the key idea of economic recovery
Dmytro Kysylevskyi, Member of Parliament (MP), Deputy Chairman of the Verkhovna Rada Committee on Economic Development and a 2017 USPS alumnus, answered questions about the most beneficial policies for the further economic development of the country.
One of the possible options for the recovery of the Ukrainian economy is prioritising the processing industry to reduce dependence on imports, create new jobs, increase exports and increase the competitiveness of Ukrainian goods on the world market. And Ukraine has this potential, so Dmytro discussed with the USPS group tools and mechanisms that can contribute to increasing the number of sources and volumes of the processing industry.
Technologies, war, and geopolitics
Cybersecurity in today’s world concerns each of us because as much as the state is protected in cyberspace, so is each of its citizens. In this aspect, at the beginning of the full-scale invasion, an important precedent of public-private partnership took place: the creation of the Ukrainian cyber army. Specialists from all over the country united to confront the enemy.
The experience of 2022 shows that mass cyberattacks are usually carried out in parallel with important events for Ukraine, and almost 40% of all attacks are directed at state and local self-government bodies. Therefore, it is necessary to realise that cyber security is an ongoing process and to work on it comprehensively and systematically at different levels. Yehor Aushev — CEO of Cyber Unit Technologies, an expert in cyber security and a 2016 USPS alumnus, told our participants about this industry’s nuances.
Competent assistance to the Armed Forces: civil society vs state
The consolidation of the Ukrainian people around the support of the Armed Forces of Ukraine is unprecedented. Even after a year of a full-scale war, aid rates are high because every day, Ukrainian citizens in the rear ask themselves how they can help their country during the war. Emotions and individual situations can cause the actions that are the answers to this question, so Taras Chmut, Head of Charitable Foundation Come Back Alive, Chairman of the Board at the NGO Ukrainian Military Center, talked about the systematic nature of volunteering with the participants.
Would the state be able to cope without the support of specialised funds? How to maintain this level? How can citizens help the army in the future? What is the essence of the competent assistance of the military? What should we do as a country to achieve the desired victory? All issues of the discussion platform led to a lively discussion and frank conversation about the processes in the army and the importance of the army’s assistance from the side of civil society.
To say that freedom does not exist is treacherous and dangerous. Firstly, because of the large space for manipulation by authoritarian and totalitarian movements or leaders. At the same time, awareness of one’s freedom separates the “pursuit of happiness” into a full-fledged need. And it forces us to direct specific efforts to realise this need, both on a personal and global level, when we talk about achieving certain public goods.
The participants discussed the phenomenon of freedom, particularly its political aspect, with Vakhtang Kebuladze, a philosopher, writer, translator and professor of the Department of Theoretical and Practical Philosophy of the Philosophical Faculty at the Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv.
The days of the first seminar passed at such a dynamic and full pace. So, having collected reflections, questions and opinions, all of us — both participants and the team — are already preparing for the Second Session of USPS 2023!