5 steps Ukraine's new government should take
May 27th, 2014
12:22 PM ET

5 steps Ukraine's new government should take

By Jane Harman, Special to CNN

Editor’s note: Jane Harman is director, president and chief executive officer of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. She was a nine-term congresswoman from California and the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee from 2002 to 2006. The views expressed are her own.

The next stage of the Ukrainian drama is poised to unfold like a movie, with the world looking on. That was the sense I had after observing firsthand a largely peaceful and successful election there as part of the National Democratic Institute delegation. The question now is what the title could be.

The title could be “Egypt, the sequel,” in which case we can expect those who braved subzero temperatures and death-by-sniper in the Maidan to grow increasingly marginalized and disillusioned as yet another kleptocracy takes root. Or something more inspiring could unfold, as capable civil society advocates from the Maidan and others play a key role in shaping Ukraine's first decent government ever.

Based on my time in Ukraine and conversations with Ukrainian political and civic leaders, academics and international observers, there is certainly real evidence that it could be the latter. But there are five steps that brand new President-elect Petro Poroshenko should take to help turn that promise into reality.

First, Poroshenko, who won an impressive 56 percent majority in the first round of voting, needs to implement his pledge to visit the eastern, Russian-speaking region of the country to demonstrate that he truly wants to unite the country. In addition, he should invite opponents like Serhiy Tihipko (a dead ringer for Kevin Spacey, by the way) and other capable east Ukrainians to join his government.

Second, he must reach for the Maidan crowd – including impressive women like Hanna Hopko, leader of the so-called "reanimation" (reform) movement, and participants in the Open Ukraine Foundation, founded by Prime Minister, Arseniy Yatsenyuk and his wife. Not only will they excel, but they will also be the right messengers to sell new strategies.

Third, Poroshenko must empower his government to enforce the country's anti-corruption laws and impose tough sentences on present and former leaders through a fair and transparent process.

Fourth, the new president needs an A-plus economic team – possibly including technical advisors recruited outside the country – to assess what steps must be taken to qualify for IMF, EU and U.S. loans. Then, the tough part – he must level with the public about why suffering higher gas prices (when subsidies are reduced and some repayments made) is short-term pain for long-term gain. As a former politician, I know how unpopular but crucial this will be.

And fifth, Poroshenko should welcome home the Ukrainian diaspora, some of whom returned to vote in this historic election. In the United States alone, there are large Ukrainian communities in New York and the Midwest. Millions reside elsewhere, and Ukraine desperately needs their talent and resources.

Of course, Poroshenko has many other decisions to make in the coming days and weeks, including the timing and process for drafting a new constitution and parliamentary elections. Egypt rushed these things, and its example suggests that fielding an inclusive, capable and transparent government first, and giving time for challengers to learn electoral skills may be the wiser course for Ukraine.

Ultimately, Ukraine's incoming president has it in his power to ensure that the drama that has unfolded over the past few months does not have another tragic ending for Ukraine. Like most “reviewers,” I want a happy ending at last. This movie can include one.


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Topics: Ukraine

soundoff (34 Responses)
  1. Joey Isotta-Fraschini

    The first step the "new" government in Ukraine needs to take is get together with the Eastern Ukrainians and work out some kind of cease fire, then recognize and respect the two-week-old plebiscite and simply ignore both Washington and the EU. Unfortunately, that clown in Kiev will likely do none of the above but carry out orders from Washington D.C.

    May 27, 2014 at 12:37 pm |
    • Joey Isotta-Fraschini©

      @ my troll:
      Thank you for caring enough to send the very best: you made my hijacking the very first post.
      I see that I am becoming very popular.

      May 27, 2014 at 7:13 pm |
      • j. von hettlingen

        No doubt it is extremely important for Poroshenko to unite the country, while keeping Ukraine economically afloat, by negotiating with IMF and World Bank etc. He ought to figure out a strategy to deal with the Kremlin. Putin is watching the development in Ukraine like a hawk. It is important to avert any Russian aggression. There's fear that pro-Russian activists sooner or later make good on their cause – secession from Ukraine, which suits Putin fine.

        May 29, 2014 at 11:33 am |
  2. Tom Posey

    Good grief Joey. With a comment like that, you must be a fan of Sarah Palin.
    Wow, such a beautiful girl on the picture. Va va voo. I'd sure like to ##!#! # with her.

    May 27, 2014 at 1:03 pm |
  3. bobcat2u

    Ukraine announced plans to open Chernobyl, their nuclear disaster site, to tourists.

    They say it's just like Disneyland, except the 6-foot mouse is real.

    May 27, 2014 at 1:28 pm |
  4. bobcat2u

    A lawyer and a Ukrainian are sitting next to each other on a long flight. The lawyer is thinking that Ukrainians are so dumb that he could get one over on them easy ... so the lawyer asks if the Ukrainian would like to play a fun game.

    The Ukrainian is tired and just wants to take a nap, so he politely declines and tries to catch a few winks. The lawyer persists, and says that the game is a lot of fun.
    "I ask you a question, and if you don't know the answer, you pay me only $5; you ask me one, and if I don't know the answer, I will pay you $500", he says.

    This catches the Ukrainian's attention and to keep the lawyer quiet, he agrees to play the game.

    The lawyer asks the first question.

    "What's the distance from The Earth to the Moon?"

    The Ukrainian doesn't say a word, reaches in his pocket pulls out a five-dollar bill, and hands it to the lawyer.

    Now, it's the Ukrainian's turn. He asks the lawyer,

    "What goes up a hill with three legs, and comes down with four?"

    The lawyer uses his laptop and searches all references he could find on the Net. He sends e-mails to all the smart friends he knows, all to no avail. After one hour of searching he finally gives up. He wakes up the Ukrainian and hands him $500. The Ukrainian pockets the $500 and goes right back to sleep.

    The lawyer is going nuts not knowing the answer. He wakes the Ukrainian up and asks,
    "Well, so what goes up a hill with three legs and comes down with four?"

    The Ukrainian reaches in his pocket, hands the lawyer $5 and goes back to sleep.

    May 27, 2014 at 1:34 pm |
    • banasy©

      This. Well done.

      May 28, 2014 at 1:22 pm |
      • rupert

        Hi banasy.
        Did u miss me?

        May 28, 2014 at 4:35 pm |
  5. chri§§y

    Lmao @ bobcat...as always awesome!

    May 27, 2014 at 1:42 pm |
  6. John Smith

    America is the root of all terror. America has invaded sixty countries since world war 2.
    In 1953 America overthrow Iran's democratic government Mohammad Mosaddegh and installed a brutal dictator Shah. America helped Shah of Iran to establish secret police and killed thousands of Iranian people.
    During Iran-Iraq war evil America supported Suddam Hossain and killed millions of Iranian people. In 1989, America, is the only country ever, shot down Iran's civilian air plane, killing 290 people.
    In 2003,America invaded Iraq and killed 1,000,000+ innocent Iraqi people and 4,000,000+ Iraqi people were displaced.
    Now America is a failed state with huge debt. Its debt will be 22 trillion by 2015.

    May 27, 2014 at 1:54 pm |
  7. Joey Isotta-Fraschini

    Well put, John. Thank you.

    May 27, 2014 at 4:02 pm |
    • Joey Isotta-Fraschini©

      Thabk you again.

      May 27, 2014 at 7:15 pm |
      • rupert

        Thabk you? Joey, I think u are losing your touch.
        Temporary I'm sure

        May 27, 2014 at 7:28 pm |
    • John Smith

      There goes that joker at 4:02 stealing names again. He must be a fan of Sarah Palin. Nobody wants to read his mumble jumble.
      This clown has got to go!

      May 27, 2014 at 7:35 pm |
  8. John Smith

    Who stole my name? I love America, land of the free.
    God bless America.

    May 27, 2014 at 5:11 pm |
    • Joseph McCarthy

      How do expect God to bless America while we keep on butchering people overseas with those ungodly drones of ours, John? The use of those monsters is totally unchristian!

      May 27, 2014 at 11:39 pm |
      • Joseph McCarthy

        My brain. My brain. I need Paxil.

        May 28, 2014 at 8:48 am |
  9. Ferhat Balkan

    Obviously there can be no dialogue as long as those pro Russian terrorists and thugs occupy government buildings and terrorize the local populace in East Ukraine. Russia sends weapons and trained mercenaries/special forces across the border to create chaos and instability. When the Ukrainian troops show up, the local ethnic Russian populace walks out in front of them acting like they're being victimized. This in turn creates an excuse for Russia to invade or to call for their ridiculous pro Russian local elections... There are no easy answers for Ukraine. I can only hope that their territorial integrity stays intact and a peaceful solution is found, but I don't see it happening now or any time soon. BTW, that girl in the picture is truly beautiful :))

    May 27, 2014 at 7:09 pm |
    • Joseph McCarthy

      As usual Ferhat, you have it wrong. The only thugs here are those in Kiev, London and Washington!

      May 28, 2014 at 11:00 am |
  10. rupert

    Yep. Russia is playing dirty. Jerks!

    May 27, 2014 at 7:30 pm |
  11. rupert

    Hold the phone! I just found my mail order bride. She is WOW! I am partial to russian and ukranian women.
    Cnn, anyway u can help me here?

    May 27, 2014 at 7:38 pm |
  12. rupert

    Oh? A sweater fetish.
    Why do I see her in a pink bikini then?

    May 27, 2014 at 10:06 pm |
  13. Lev Havryliv

    Unfortunately Russia is continuing a dirty subversive war against Ukraine by sending armed highly trained operatives into the Donetsk and Luhansk regions to foment separatism and discord.

    As the new president has said these groups are acting like Somalian pirates and have to be treated as such.

    Ukraine needs economic reform, anti-corruption measures, foreign investment and most of all peace and stability.

    May 28, 2014 at 2:57 am |
    • Joseph McCarthy

      You forgot to mention the interference from the West , Lev. This is what Ukraine needs to be free from but won't anytime in the foreseeable foreseeable future.

      May 28, 2014 at 11:10 am |
  14. joe

    Millions reside elsewhere, and Ukraine desperately needs their talent and resources.

    nobody wants to come back to be robbed..by corrupt officials.. they aren't that stupid..

    May 28, 2014 at 3:03 am |
    • Joseph McCarthy

      We'll said, joe. With the new government in Kiev, corruption is to be expected along with foreign rule!

      May 28, 2014 at 11:04 am |
  15. George patton

    Will we get dragged into this mess, too? I'm afraid we will sooner or later.

    May 29, 2014 at 12:31 pm |
  16. «RZ»

    I don't like ice cream. It hurts my teeth.

    June 2, 2014 at 3:19 am |
  17. banasy

    I know what you mean RZ. I feel the same way.

    June 2, 2014 at 3:20 am |
  18. George Patton

    How true. Ice cream is so cold that it hurts my teeth.

    June 2, 2014 at 3:22 am |
  19. rupert

    Good grief, you three must be fans of Sarah Palin. What lingo!

    June 2, 2014 at 9:17 am |

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