Peter Burian, State Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs of the Slovak Republic, and his counterparts, State Secretaries from the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland, accompanied by national experts and non-governmental sector representatives, visited Chernihiv, Ukraine, on April 20–21, 2015.
The event was held as a part of a coordinated effort by the Visegrad Group (V4) countries to support the reform and transformation processes in Ukraine, to present V4’s experiences in processes of decentralizing public administration and to identify further opportunities for cooperation in this area.
“We remain your reliable partner who is sincerely interested in assisting on your European way and reforms which Ukrainians have decided to pursue,” stated State Secretary Burian in talks between the V4 state secretaries with Natalia Galibarenko, the First Deputy Foreign Minister of Ukraine, in Chernihiv. “The goal of today’s visit is to help Ukraine, through our experience, to decentralize since it is one of the important prerequisites for a successful reform process. It fosters improvement of public affairs and administration in the state and assures bringing decision-making closer to all stakeholders. The distribution of powers between the central government and lower tier governments enhances the quality and accessibility of services and gives citizens a bigger say in how the resources they co-generate are handled. Decentralization, in that way, is one of the specific ways to bring public affairs administration closer to citizens and their needs,” added Burian.
The deliberations of the V4 state secretaries and the following wider roundtable in Chernihiv, with participation of Oksana Syroid, Chairperson of Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine, Vyacheslav Nehoda, Deputy Minister of Regional Development of Ukraine, presented space to representatives of specialized departments and the non-governmental sector to present specific experiences of the V4 countries in the processes of public administration reform and decentralization and to discuss important aspects such as the role of civil society in the process, fiscal decentralization and general strengthening of reforms in Ukraine.
Decentralization was identified as one of the specific areas to which V4’s transformation assistance to Ukraine will be focused in addition to other topics such as development of civil society and independent media, a standard business environment and energy efficiency. The Slovak presidency of the Visegrad Four initiated a series of V4 roundtables dedicated to these topics in Ukraine. The event in Chernihiv is the first of the V4 roundtables under the chief organizational auspices of the Polish Solidarity Fund. The Ukrainian partners highly appreciated holding the roundtable on decentralization in Chernihiv and the overall idea of organizing V4 round tables. This is a timely initiative and a valuable contribution to promote the reform effort in Ukraine.
State Secretary Burian, in the company of his counterparts from the V4 countries, had breakfast during his stay in Chernihiv with Ukrainian non-governmental organizations, a meeting with officials of the Chernihiv regional administration and engaged in discussions with students of the National University of Technology. In the discussions he emphasized the importance of a sound and functional non-governmental sector that plays a key role during the time of broad societal changes such as those taking place in Ukraine now.
Mr. Burian highlighted to the Ukrainian public the shift in quality that Slovakia experienced from its membership in the European Union. He underlined the importance of cooperation at the university level and the benefits of instruments such as student mobility and fellowships provided by the International Visegrad Fund. Education is one of the key aspects in building people’s capacities, which are indispensable for successful implementation of societal transformation.