Ukrainian media are actively discussing the “new Marshall Plan” that Lithuania has been busy promoting in the EU institutions, an EADaily correspondent reports. Lithuanian diplomats and politicians promise that they will secure support to the plan of assistance to Ukraine at the November summit of the EU Eastern Partnership.
Commenting on the European Union assistance plan for Ukraine presented at the Lithuanian parliament, Foreign Minister Linas Linkevičius said it would be too insufficient to speak of only financial aid to Ukraine. He believes the matter is about “systemizing current flows, controlling their efficient use, for which the plan proposed by Lithuania is designed.”
The program is meant for up to a decade starting from 2018. It envisages up to EUR 50 bn of investments into growth of the Ukrainian economy. However, Linkevičius says the focus should be not on the amount of money, because it is “a forecast figure” and “this is not what one should start with.”
“Ukraine is already receiving certain aid via national channels, from various donors and financial institutions. To be fair, one needs to admit, their ability to use the money is poor. So, they should use more effectively what they have. Truly speaking, despite the progress, Ukraine still has elements of corruption and red tape. In other words, all financial flows coming to Ukraine should be used much more effectively and transparently. And the Ukrainian institutions are to do this,” Linkevičius said.
According to the minister, all institutions whose participation is envisaged by the assistance plan (the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the European Investment Bank, the International Monetary Fund) have certain experience of working in Ukraine, providing assistance to it, controlling their usage and so on.
“But at the same time, it is all fragmentary, is not a part of a system. Our goal is to unite efforts of all nations, efforts of the donors and, which is the most important, to strengthen administrative opportunities to use this money. There is an option that Ukraine establishes an agency for managing the projects, and let international representatives take part in its work. It is needed for more trust to Ukraine in using the finances: so that the donors were not afraid to give them due to doubts of transparency of their usage,” the Lithuanian foreign minister said.
“The plan proposed by Lithuania is a multi-level and comprehensive process. So, it would be too ill-considered to speak about the money only. There is no money yet, nobody pledged to give it. Moreover, as I already mentioned, one needs to coordinate and use more effectively the flows that already exist,” he stressed.
“Everything what is going on now, is too slow; this is not enough for success. We need to be interested in support of the EU and other countries. We report on our actions to the USA and Canada, not only European countries. We need to concentrate, make the work more systematic and boost the support, because otherwise it is hard to hope for success. The time is not among our allies, it passes away, the results are insufficient. One needs to keep in mind that the war is on, and the conditions Ukraine is working in now are not favorable,” he added.
“All this is called the EU assistance plan for Ukraine. This is our task,” the minister said.
As Linkevičius believes, it is significant that the initiative was proposed by members of the Lithuanian parliament, and two former ministers participated in its development and promotion, Conservative Andrius Kubilius and Social Democrat Gediminas Kirkilas. It is known that the Lithuanian government is paying attention to the plan. Prime minister’s aide for foreign policy Deividas Matulionis recently noted that “it turns from an initiative of the parliamentary diplomacy into a foreign policy initiative of the Lithuanian government.”
“Now, our joint group is paying visits European capitals. We meet experts, will have consultations with representatives of the European Commission and hope that this will be not our idea, but become a European project,” Linas Linkevičius continued. The meetings were held in Kiev, Paris, a talk in London is expected soon. Linkevičius is sure that Lithuania’s idea can become a European project.
He also hopes to use another mechanism: the Ukraine conference in London organized by UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson. Nest year, it will be held in Copenhagen. “There is time to fill the initiative with content. The time factor makes us hurry up. Early next year, an EU-Ukraine summit will be held. Probably, we will manage to move forward on the issue,” the Lithuanian official noted.’
The European Union assistance plan for Ukraine will be presented at the Eastern Partnership summit in late November. Next week, Linkevičius is to participate in a Foreign Affairs Council meeting in Brussels, where he plans to discuss the project with EU Commissioner for European Neighborhood Policy & Enlargement Negotiations Johannes Hahn.