Aspen Institute Romania: the sixth #UkrainianDialogue on how to defend Ukraine for the common good

Aspen Institute Kyiv together with our International Partner Aspen Institute Romania, held the sixth #UkrainianDialogue. The session was moderated by Ionut Stanimir, Director of Marketing and Communication of Banca Comerciala Romana and Aspen Fellow. Sergiu Manea, Acting President of Aspen Institute Romania, and Yuliya Tychkivska, Executive Director of Aspen Institute Kyiv made introductory speeches at the beginning of the event.The Project’s main objective is to create a dialogue platform between Ukrainians, who defend their country, and the international community, who supports Ukraine about the real situation in Ukraine and the help, which Ukraine needs.

Alona Shkrum: “We don’t want to be beggars, we want to be partners” 

Alona Shkrum is a member of Parliament of Ukraine. She spoke about the situation of the Ukrainian economy. 

—  39% — 41% of companies have stopped working. We are trying right now to recover them. We have made a big plan to move the companies to the West of Ukraine and to other countries. We are hoping that Romania will step up. The Poland have already stepped up a little and started to relocate companies.

She also said that the damages of Ukraine are estimated to be more than one trillion dollars. Also some estimate over 2 trillions dollars and the damages are still going on. 

— This is something which no Marshall plan, no Brussels plan will ever be able to get in turns of numbers. Obviously, we need investments, obviously we need partnerships. More than 12 millions people relocated. More than 5 millions relocated abroad. 90% of them are women and children. The closest neighbors are doing big work to help our refugees and we are very grateful for that. 

Alona mentioned that Ukrainians don’t want to be beggars, they want to be partners. Ukraine wants to ensure good investment opportunities. And to work for the long period of time: not just for rebuilding Ukraine, but for integrating us completely into the European market. 

Also Alona stressed that right now Ukraine is suffering something that the world hasn’t seen since World War II. And in this case Ukrainians don’t want anybody to feel it on their territories and to see the curfew and the sirens every night. This war needs to be stopped in the territory of Ukraine with the help of the world.     

Natalie Jaresko: “The international community has to come together with a much greater financial support package”

Natalie Jaresko is the Chairperson of the Aspen Institute Kyiv Supervisory Board. Natalie stressed that it is important to keep essential services for the 40 million people who remain in Ukraine enabling them to continue life. It needs a much greater financial support package.

— The Ukrainian budget is lacking approximately 5 billion dollars per month. And that’s just in keeping with the war-time budget, which a bare minimum expenditure being made to pay the military their salaries, to pay the families of the deceased military, pensions, medical care, payment for the internally displaced people so they can make their lives in the new part of the country. If you look at the amount of money that has been committed  for macro support since the war started, is about 11 billion dollars. It is important to note that only 1,4bln of them are grants. Much of it is the concessional loans and those loans are going to be very hard to repay. It means that the international community has to come together with a much greater financial support package.

Also, Natalie underlined that Ukrainian inability to export because of the suffocation of our ports and the strangulation of the economy is going to cause another economic crisis and could lead to global hunger issues. 

— Ukraine feeds 400 million people in the world. The Northern African and Middle Eastern countries that are typical buyers of Ukrainian grains, are going to be facing food shortages. It will affect the European economy even more, and you will see the whole new wave of migrants, hungry migrants, coming from that part of the continent to Europe.

Ana Catauta: “Our goal is that you and us can be stronger and go through this” 

Ana Catauta is a member of the Chamber of Deputies, Romanian Parliament and the Aspen Fellow. She says that Romanians are very determined in standing with Ukraine and supporting its European path. 

— It has been 15 years since we joined the EU. Even if things are not as we have hoped before it’s obvious that being part of the large European family has helped the Romanian economy, has helped Romania to develop and we do want it always for the Ukrainian neighbors. 

Ana stressed that Romania stands with Ukraine and understands that it’s not only our fight with the Russian Federation. In this case it’s needed to be extremely conscious that there is the need of understanding each other better and of understanding that confidence and trust is going to be gained and to be built in time. 

Also she said that it’s important to be very careful about the desinformation and fake-news. 

— Romania and other European countries are going through very difficult economic times. We have to be extremely careful about the sensitivities of the Romanian people and the people from the EU. I am convinced and I can see from what’s going in the social media that the Russians will try to create this tension between helping Ukraine and helping people that are invaluable in Romania and other countries. And we have to be very careful not to allow them to build on that tensions. Our goal is that you and us can be stronger and go through this. 

Siegfried Muresan: “Everyone understands that defending Ukraine means defending ourselves”

Siegfried Muresan is Vice-chair of the European People’s Party Group in the European Parliament. Siegfried noticed  that the invasion of the Russian armed forces into Ukraine has changed the perspective on many things at the European level. 

— Two months ago I still had colleagues in the European Parliament, who were sure that the Russian armed forces would never invade Ukraine. They simply did not correctly understand the warnings that we had received from the Russian Federation in the last years ( the annexation of Crimea, the invasion into Donetsk and Luhansk regions, Georgia, Chechnya). Now, everyone in Europe understands that we can only live in safety and security within the borders of NATO and within the borders of 27 member states of the European Union if we are surrounded by countries which are safe and stable. Everyone understands that defending Ukraine means defending ourselves.

Siegfried stressed that it is important for European partners to find the way in which after the war Ukraine can develop as much as possible by itself, and shared his idea which way it could be implemented.

— I think that Ukraine should be admitted into the European single market. Long before we will be able to accept it institutionally and politically into the European Union, we can do one thing – integrate it into the single market. That means that Ukraine can export without any limitations, without any tarifs to the European market. There will be more investments into Ukraine, higher salaries, and higher standards of living.

Also Siegfried underlined that people understand that for the safety of the EU, the Republic of Moldova is no less important than Ukraine is. This is why the EU has to offer to the Republic of Moldova exactly what it offers to Ukraine.

Aspen Institute Kyiv is grateful to the Aspen Institute Romania for their support and the opportunity to have dialogue with the Romania Community.