CSE and CIS
Reform is on the agenda in Kiev. After over twenty years deformed by corruption and incomplete reforms, the demand for “European standards” – an umbrella term for values such as greater transparency and rule-of-law – is stronger than ever. But with Ukraine facing a dramatic recession and a drawn-out conflict in the country’s east, many fear the government will again fail to seize the opportunity to take the painful steps needed to modernise.
Belarus’s economy remains one of the least reformed in the region – largely because it has been able to rely on help from Russia to avoid a politically risky restructuring which could endanger the authoritarian rule of President Alexander Lukashenko.
While the rest of the CEE was either rapidly moving towards a democratic capitalist model, or languishing in post-communist malaise, but a least with new political and economic freedom, much of the Western Balkans plunged into war in which 140,000 people died and economies were devastated.
The path taken by Romania and Bulgaria over the past 25 years differs from that of both Central Europe, which embraced free-market capitalism more enthusiastically, and the Western Balkans, much of which was set back by internecine war. Today, both are EU member states, but both struggle to shake off the legacy of communism and a troubled transition.
Ukrainian authorities are considering how to rebuild Donbass, destroyed by Russian mercenaries. Unless the West takes part in the procedure, decisions are likely to depend on under which variant the most money can be transferred to the pockets of oligarchs associated with the governing team rather than on economic effectiveness.
The Russian embargo on the Polish food imports will result in excess supply arising on the domestic food market. The lower demand in Russia will not be compensated by consumption in Poland. The goods exported to Russia belong to the group of goods the real consumption of which has been dropping in Poland in recent years.
Two events have called into question the advancing integration of Ukraine with the European Union. President Petro Poroshenko has acknowledged there is no chance of the Ukrainian government winning the war in eastern Ukraine as Russia will not allow that, and so he has pledged a series of major concessions.
Romania attracts little interest now on the international scene, although it is still undergoing a turbulent transition. I do not really know how to deal with this country. The recent resumption of growth does not necessarily mean the end of its problems.
Bulgaria’s admission into the EU was somewhat conditional – Bulgaria had not met all the requirements, but the Union’s officials hoped that the admission to the community will provide an impulse to quickly fix the situation. Today, Bulgaria fares better economically than before 2007, but the biggest issues remain unresolved.