Thousands of those who came to thank at Bankova street and only 25% of those who supported him with a vote. The presidency of Petro Poroshenko can hardly be characterized as an easy one, and for sure it’s impossible to say that it was a failure. He was wrong and didn’t always admit it, but at the same time, he was winning. So Opinion will tell you about main successes and failures, victories and mistakes of so far acting head of state.
The main achievements and victories of Poroshenko’s presidency
Army and resistance to Russian aggression
The army is one of those three pillars, on which Poroshenko (or rather, his political technologists) built his election campaign. Since 2014, the number of combat units of the Armed Forces has almost doubled, and the number of servicemen has risen from 168 to 255 thousand. The average salary in the Armed Forces in 2014 amounted to 2 thousand UAH, whereas today – from 10 to 12 thousand UAH. The level of trust of Ukrainians to defenders has increased from 21% to 61%. According to assessment by international projects, last year Ukraine ranked 29th in the world ranking for military power and became 10th in the list of the most powerful armies in Europe.
Independent Ukrainian Church
Slightly more than a year ago, on April 17, Poroshenko appealed to the Ecumenical Patriarch with the request “to grant Tomos of autocephaly to the Ukrainian local Orthodox Church.” We are well aware of the saga with the receipt of Tomos, the reaction of Russia and the long waiting. The result we have now – the creation of OCU – are undeniably scored to the victories and achievements of the guarantor.
This is another ace in the hole that Poroshenko has, with it he entered the history. The perennial, long and painful negotiations with the European Union, a number of requirements and standards are all left behind. On June 11, 2017, a visa-free regime for the citizens of Ukraine started to work. Clearly, stating that this is exclusively a victory of the incumbent president is a mistake, because the preparatory work was carried out by the previous presidents. However, final and most important decisions were made precisely during the presidential term of Petro Poroshenko.
Association Agreement with the European Union
The course towards the European Union and NATO is a thesis that also guided Petro Poroshenko throughout his election campaign. The Association Agreement with the EU was signed by Poroshenko in the first month of his presidency. Is it solely his victory? Definitely not. The work on it was on-going already at the time of Viktor Yushchenko’s presidency. However, it was during the years of the work of the current head of state that the agreement became fully operational, and the implementation of its requirements has begun.
Partnership with NATO and the status of an aspirant state
A year ago, the North Atlantic Alliance officially recognized Ukraine’s aspirations to become a full-fledged member of the organization. This is another consequence of Poroshenko’s policy and his strategy as of the head of state. So in March 2018, we received the status of an aspirant country. In addition, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, while congratulating Zelensky on winning the election, said: Ukraine is a valuable partner of the Alliance, and therefore cooperation must necessarily continue after the change of power.
The inevitability of the course towards NATO and EU accession
Poroshenko has initiated amendments to the Constitution of Ukraine. The proposal of the guarantor was supported, and now in the Constitution, the following words have appeared, “and confirming the European identity of the Ukrainian people and the irreversibility of the European and Euro-Atlantic course of Ukraine”.
International coalition in support of Ukraine
During the years of Poroshenko’s rule, a truly effective international coalition has been formed around the world, the one that supports Ukraine, its territorial integrity and sovereignty. Such an association does not have official status, however, a number of countries and world organizations openly support our country in the hybrid war against Ukraine started by Russia. Thanks to it world leaders for the first time united in support of our state after the annexation of the Crimea. The formed coalition provides Ukraine with military, political, financial, humanitarian and rule-of-law support, and imposes sanctions on the aggressor.
Supporting and preserving democracy
The most recent example is the victory of Volodymyr Zelensky in this year’s presidential election. Despite thoughts wide-spread before the elections that the guarantor will use the administrative resource and that he doesn’t want to give up his post, the elections were held in a completely transparent manner. Irrespective of whom the people of Ukraine have elected as the president in the overwhelming majority, first of all, the one that has won is the democracy itself. This was recognized by all Ukrainian and international observers. Foreign media is still writing about this.
Key reforms that were undertaken during the presidency
Ukrainization. During Poroshenko’s presidency, the Verkhovna Rada managed to pass amendments to legislation and set minimum quotas for the Ukrainian language on radio and television. So after the transitional period, the quota for songs on the radio is 35%, and the broadcast in the state language is 60%. On television after a transitional period, national TV channels must comply with quotas of 75% and regional ones of 60%.
To the same section of the achievements in the field of Ukrainization during the presidency of Petro Poroshenko should be added a ban on the use of Russian social networks and a number of Internet resources of the aggressor state, as well as blocking almost all Russian TV channels.
Decentralization. This reform by many experts is perceived as perhaps the most important in the last five years. In April 2014, the Ukrainian government launched a national project “Decentralization” and approved the concept of reforming local self-government and the territorial organization of power in Ukraine.
Decommunization. This is an unconditional achievement that allowed us to bid farewell to the Soviet dictatorial past and get rid of the centers of communist ideology, which in no way was combined with the pro-European course of the country, but on the contrary, dragged the country back to the “cradle” of Russia. The package of laws on decommunization was supported by the president and the majority of deputies.
Medical reform. It is wrong to assess the transformation of health care as a rapid transition to European standards of medicine. In fact, this is a difficult and step-by-step plan of complex changes that have started not so long time ago. However, we’ve already got the first results: last year the transformation of primary medical care – institutions where therapists, family doctors, and paediatricians work – has begun. In the European countries, which we want to get closer to, it’s precisely the family doctors who work with most of the patients’ complaints.
Defeats, mistakes and miscalculations of Petro Poroshenko as of the president of Ukraine
Unsuccessful personnel policy. Poroshenko himself acknowledged mistakes in the personnel policy. However, only after the results of the first round, when the votes processed by CEC signalled the need for rapid and radical changes. At the same time, during the entire term in the office, the president was actively criticized for his appointments to important positions in the army, regional state administrations, etc.
Failed communication with society. Political experts are unanimous in their assessment: Poroshenko had to communicate more actively and carefully with the Ukrainians. He had to explain and communicate the actions of the authorities, causes, and consequences. In fact, Poroshenko as president sometimes was required to do impossible things. The problem is that part of society still does not know what belongs to the powers of the president, and for what the government or parliamentarians should be criticized. The communication strategy of the presidential administration has failed, for the part of the population, the war became a virtual issue, most of the laws – tyrannical and incomprehensible.
Weak and, mostly failed fight against corruption. To overcome corruption is one of the promises made by Poroshenko himself and a key requirement of Western partners. Ukraine has even created and launched a number of anti-corruption bodies, launched the ProZorro Electronic Trading System.
However, there are a lot of questions and complaints about the effectiveness of the work of all newly created bodies, from both Ukrainian and foreign specialists. They say that those bodies don’t work at full capacity. As an example, there is a high-profile corruption scandal in the defence sector with the participation of President’s comrade Hladkovskyi, where the inactivity of bodies that were supposed to fight corruption was manifested at its best.
Avoiding a dialogue with civic activists. After the assassination of Kateryna Handziuk, public activists have repeatedly tried to start a dialogue with the president. They wanted him at least to expel those involved in the death of the activist from the members of his party. However, all attempts by civil society representatives were in vain. Even during filing the documents for registration as a presidential candidate, Poroshenko used the black entrance to the premises, since activists were at the main entrance.
Sacralization of power. It is also often attributed to the incumbent president. This thesis was particularly acute after the bill-boards with Putin, where Poroshenko opposed himself to the Russian dictator. In addition, the guarantor was never able to make the presidential post cease being perceived as something supreme, mythological and mysterious. Although, of course, this can also be a part of communication problems. Well, Poroshenko was trying to be a leader as open as it was possible. The excessive openness (albeit illusory) of his opponent during the elections has played a sick trick on the president.
Mistakes and defeats, victories and achievements are all customary for any president of any country. The only thing is, and that’s hard to argue it, Poroshenko has entered the history. He was the president who for five years ruled the country against which the Russian Federation waged an undeclared war. Thanks to him we’ve received our own independent church, support of the international community and established a course towards NATO and the EU at the legislative level. It’s time that will give the main evaluation of the five years of his reign since so far many of us still speak with emotions. In any case, he is the president that has a lot to be reproached for, however, he is also the one that has a lot to be thanked for.
By Dmytro Zhuravel
Photo by Mykhailo Palinchak