Economic revival necessary for Ukraine reconstruction, says deputy minister of justice – EURACTIV

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By Yaroslava Bukhta |
25-07-2022 (updated: 25-07-2022 )
Iryna Mudra, Ukraine’s Deputy Minister of Justice focusing on confiscation of assets, accountability and reconstruction [Ministry of Justice of Ukraine]
Languages: Deutsch

The reconstruction of production facilities like oil depots or agricultural facilities to get the economy on its feet again is a top priority as this would allow Ukraine to restart its exports and have some financial inflows, Ukraine’s deputy minister of Justice told EURACTIV in an exclusive interview.
Iryna Mudra is Ukraine’s Deputy Minister of Justice, focusing on confiscating assets, accountability and reconstruction.
Even though the war is still ongoing, the reconstruction of Ukraine is already being planned. What are the priorities for this reconstruction?
It must be production facilities that were destroyed – oil depots, everything related to agriculture and the production of agricultural products. First, it is necessary to revive the economy so that the economy works. That is, for the output to work, we can further export, which also allows us to earn money. [Second, it is] housing for citizens who were left without homes. We have a lot of internally displaced people who need accommodation, and we need to get it done as soon as possible.
Further EU accession and financial aid to Ukraine are strongly connected with reforms in Ukraine. One of the critical requirements for keeping the EU candidate status for Ukraine is judicial reform introducing a set of measures to improve the Ukrainian judicial system. What are the priorities for reforms in Ukraine as of now and the possible timeline?
Our time is divided as follows: 50% we fight the war, 50% we work with reforms. The President has set very ambitious tasks for the government – to carry out reforms as soon as possible. We had neither the desire nor the ability to drag it out for years, so we started moving.
For [the Ministry of Justice], judicial reform and the reform of Justice are essential. In terms of judicial reform, one of the main goals is to restore the work of the Supreme Council of Justice [ed. – judicial authority in Ukraine whose duties include submissions to the President on the appointment of judges, releasing judges, examining the cases of infringements] to form a professional, transparent judicial personnel.
Also, by the end of 2022, we must pass a law to select judges for the Constitutional Court of Ukraine (CCU). We understand that the CCU as the highest judicial body should also be formed [and restarted] as soon as possible.
We must continue reforms of the law enforcement system, the Prosecutor General’s Office. We must – and have already begun – to implement a reform that will reduce the influence of the so-called oligarchs – people with money and other powers – to influence the economy and security of the country.
For this, we have created a register of oligarchs. We have to pass a law that will reduce the influence of oligarchs and provide an opportunity to introduce a full procedure for checking such people so that [media] are not monopolised by certain oligarchs.
Judicial reform in Ukraine and the appointment of the heads of the Specialised Anti-corruption Prosecutor’s Office (SAPO) and National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine (NABU) – these issues have been a long-term concern inside Ukraine as well as for the Western partners. What has the war changed in these processes?
We went in the direction of appointing both the head of the SAPO and the head of NABU. The war somewhat changed the plans, not only in terms of assignments.
We understand the concerns of European colleagues and colleagues from other continents, and the President has also made this a priority. These are elected bodies through a competition; the competition has been launched. It is a matter of days, maybe, weeks, for it to finish. The war has adjusted the timing in this regard, but [the process] is ending.
President Zelenskyy removed Ukraine’s security chief and top state prosecutor from executing their duties, which has caused concerns with Western supporters over the rule of law. Can you comment on this?
This information also caught us on a business trip – we learned the same from the news. But there is no deviation from the rule of law here. Because both procedures [of dismissal] must go through the Verkhovna Rada, both must receive or not the support of parliamentarians.
These officials were not dismissed by the President; they were suspended – this is a legitimate legal procedure. However, dismissal or not dismissal must go through the Verkhovna Rada, and, as far as I know, the submission to the Verkhovna Rada today will consider both procedures [as of the moment, the Ukrainian Parliament has voted for the dismissal of Iryna Venediktova as Prosecutor General and Ivan Bakanov as the security service chief].
The European Commission proposed a RebuildUkraine reconstruction platform, in which the Ukrainian government has full ownership, but Brussels asks for some reforms. How should the cooperation between the Ukrainian government and the EU Commission work in practice?
We want foreign experts to provide us with practical assistance, in addition to financial assistance. We understand the methods, tools, and mechanisms for receiving grants, but the more foreign experts participate, the more funds will be justified and transparent. Therefore, the expertise of our partners is very important.
The development of the damage assessment methodology, namely how we estimated losses, is also essential. Our Kyiv School of Economics (KSE), together with the World Bank, is developing this damage assessment methodology so that we can openly say to our partners that we need this much money and that everything is transparent.
The second step will be to make a register, where these funds will be sent as a matter of priority. Our government is doing it by consulting our financial donors. But there are almost daily communications at the government level with foreign and European partners. The Ukrainian government and our donors are interested in transparent and efficient cooperation.
How much money will Ukraine need for reconstruction?
Our government presented a reconstruction plan in Lugano, Switzerland. The vision of this plan is to restore Ukraine and to follow the path laid out for us by the European Union to meet EU standards [on the road to a future] membership. This includes restoring [or building] certain infrastructure or even roads. For that, the government previously announced the need for $750 billion [€732 billion]. However, one thing is to rebuild destroyed roads according to the standards that existed in our country; another thing is to do so according to EU standards.
I saw in the KSE report as of May that our [direct and indirect] losses reached $600 billion [€586 billion]. [Among] direct losses as of May are increasing every day – infrastructure alone reached about $100 billion [€98 billion]. Plus, we must add [the reconstruction of] residential facilities, hospitals, schools, educational institutions, and environmental damage.
Where can this money be acquired?
My main goal in the Ministry of Justice is to take away Russian assets because Russia has started the war and must pay with its assets. But we understand that this will not be enough. We have to look for other ways. These can be voluntary contributions, donations from countries, financial assistance, or loans. The government has a vision and is consulting with the World Bank, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), and other financial institutions. A recovery fund can be replenished with funds from other sources.
[Edited by Alice Taylor]
Languages: Deutsch


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