Most fighting in Ukraine now over, time to fight corruption and boost army – Poroshenko
The most dangerous part of the war is on the wane, said Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko, rolling out his reform program. While setting corruption as his main target, he said the number of regular troops needs to be boosted.
Poroshenko’s roadmap includes 60 reforms which should be fully implemented by 2020.
The priority was given to anti-corruption measures and judiciary reforms, but the project also includes most everything, such as taxes, deregulation of business, security and defense, and decentralization of powers. All the reforms are to be launched at the same time.
The program envisages the “replacement of 70 percent of civil service staff (law enforcement, judges, prosecutors, and administration).”
Under the plan, Ukraine is also to increase its defense expenditure from its current 1 percent to 5 percent of GDP by 2020. Poroshenko also wants to increase the number of professional soldiers in the armed forces to 8 percent of the overall military personnel, from the current level of 2.8 percent.
The country is also set to reduce the share of Russian gas in its overall gas imports from the current level of 60 percent to 30 percent, Poroshenko said, adding that one supplier should not be allowed to deliver more than 30 percent of the total gas purchased by Ukraine.
The ultimate goal of the reform package is to prepare Ukraine for submitting its application for EU membership in six years.
"Would I like to be remembered as a reformist president? Certainly, yes,” said Poroshenko.
No law on special status for Ukraine’s Donetsk & Lugansk regions
What is not going to happen, Poroshenko however said, is the restive regions in the East getting a special status.
“There will be no law on the special status of the Donbass region,” Poroshenko said on Thursday, speaking at a press conference in Kiev. “There is a law on a special operational mode of local government. The secession of the region is out of the question. A process of general decentralization is underway and it will start across the country.”
Poroshenko’s statement runs counter to the Minsk protocol signed on September 5 by the Kiev government and local militias, outlining what needs to be done to ensure the ceasefire in eastern Ukraine. One of the key points of the agreement was the adoption of a new law providing for a special status for the Lugansk and Donetsk regions and early elections there.
In his speech, Poroshenko added that he wants to amend the constitution to give more autonomy to all the country’s regions, and that a draft is to be submitted to MPs after the parliamentary election set for October 26.
The Ukrainian leader pointed out that he sees no need to impose martial law, however. He also said he intends to adhere to the Minsk agreement.
"I do not rule out that the Contact Group could be moved to Donetsk after it is confirmed that the ceasefire plan has been fully implemented," he added.
Poroshenko said that he has full confidence in the ceasefire protocol, adding that Kiev is doing “everything possible” to fulfill its obligations under the document.
However, the Ukrainian leader did not exclude the possibility of another wave of the popular Maidan protests named after Maidan Nezalezhnosti, or Independence Square, in Kiev.
“Maidans only brighten up a country” and can only result in positive changes, Poroshenko said, answering reporters’ questions.
The Maidan protests resulted in a coup in February, which was followed by the bloody war in eastern Ukraine.