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Migration: what challenges for Ukraine?
   
 
 
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Migration: what challenges for Ukraine?

 
Tuesday, 23 September 2014 13:50
 
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by Bohdan Ferens
EPOS Notepad

 

War in the East

Military operations in Eastern Ukraine have been going on for several months. There are the devastations of infrastructure and huge casualties. Officials on both sides underreport their casualties. Nobody is interested in the disclosure of the actual war losses. Lack of resources and provisioning for Ukrainian security forces to take active actions are evident. Most of the population of Lugansk and Donetsk region left their permanent place of residence. Russia’s open aggression which can expand its presence further in the South of Ukraine is the biggest threat now.

Political races

President Poroshenko dissolved the parliament and calls early parliamentary elections on October 26. Maidan’s set demand to update the authorities can’t be satisfied fully. Conditions for a qualitative change in the political situation failed to be provided. Far from all the political parties are interested in early elections. Only UDAR (V. Klitschko), radical Liashko, as well as local businessmen and politicians who were let to the team of the President to participate in the elections and to the formation of the pro-presidential coalition in the new parliament, expect to receive a majority of votes. The will of the East of Ukraine arises a question. Populism once again determines the course of the reduced (2 months) electoral campaign.

Economic and energy crisis

Hurricane crisis in the currency market (devaluation since the beginning of 2014 - 75%, inflation - 12% and it is not the limit). Prices and tariffs for housing and communal services are rapidly growing. Unemployment rate increases in the critical progression. The government can not cope with the current problems, and instead of implementing reforms, fighting corruption and removing most of the shadow economy, initiate mass layoffs and total privatization. Investors are not willing to risk their assets in the current environment. Huge cost of military operations. The majority of enterprises, which were aimed at Russia, stopped and not only. Energy dependence requires finding compromises between Ukraine, EU and Russia, even in such extreme conditions. There are fears that Russia will continue to use the energy leverage to press on Ukraine and discredit it as a supplier country for the EU. Reverse gas supplies to Ukraine does not cover the need. Expected problems with heat supply in winter gear up social tensions.

The role of the oligarchs

Oligarchs continue to set the agenda of the country and conduct wars with each other for spheres of influence and to define a new paradigm of relations with the authorities. They plan to set again their lobbyists in the new Parliament. Almost all the media are controlled by the major oligarchs (Kolomoisky, Firtash, Akhmetov, Pinchuk). The presence of private armies (volunteer battalions, which are financed by oligarchs) provides a strong tool to influence government and promote their interests, up to the usurpation of power in individual regions (for example Dnipropetrovsk and Odessa region are under control of Kolomoiskiy). Representatives of the oligarchic class have established a world-uncontrolled accumulation of equity and will continue to prevent the formation of a middle class in Ukraine and the separation of government from business.

Social neurosis

Ukrainian society for many months has been in a state of total shock. High expectations, which were at the time of the Maidan, are not justified. This in turn provokes a new mood of protest. The public is at the peak of activity, but has not developed quality instruments of influence on power and its control. Total militarization of society, on the one hand, helps to mobilize to help the army, and on the other - creates a dangerous precedent for the future to build up its capacity at the expense of social programs.

Radicalism and polarization of opinions replaces the need for objective perception to look for compromise solutions. Panic is reinforced by constant reports from the front, mobilization, unemployment, galloping prices and other economic and social problems. The paradigm has changed in the perception of the construction of the "we've always all peacefully" in - "now the war is knocking at every door." The serious vulnerability of citizens during information operations and wars can be traced. Failure to ensure their personal safety and to stabilize the situation requires a revision of values established in the society.

Forecast

Regarding the war in the East, in the context of mass militarization and asymmetric military draft of the population (mainly from the Western and Central regions of the country), the conflict has a better chance to grow either in the civil war in the East-West dimension, or in a military coup d’etat done by forces of radical "owners the army. "

Electoral moods of Ukrainians are still under the control of the administrative resource that allows us to predict a significant result of the UDAR and Lutsenko Block.

Forced reorientation of Ukraine for energy saving in the optimistic scenario will give impetus to a new spiral of the economy, in the worst case - a complete shutdown of production and trade (modelled in 1991-93).

The most dangerous thing in the social dimension will be the ethnic / inter-regional hostility.In the foreseeable future oligarchy will persist, as the last presidential election demonstrated.

It should be noted that Ukraine is not any distant country, but borders four EU member states, Poland, Slovakia, Hungary and Romania, and is within driving distance, meaning that it takes less than 14 hours or so to reach many others such as Germany.

1. One scenario would be that the current conflict with Russia will be resolved soon, that there is a flow of western aid, and that governance and economics improve, that people become confident with the development of Ukraine, that migration aspirations decrease, and even that Ukrainians who are currently abroad might consider returning. This, however, seems the most optimistic and least realistic scenario.

2. Another scenario could be that Ukraine experiences a prolonged economic crisis, further deepened by an austerity policy as the likely condition for IMF and EU loans. In this case, large parts of the population would be thrown into relative or absolute poverty, and migration aspirations would be likely to increase significantly. This could mean that maybe three quarters of the working age population would want to migrate to work abroad.

3. In the case that a pro-Russian regime is reinstalled in Kiev, we might also see those who lead or sympathise with the revolution leaving for the EU, either as migrants or indeed as refugees. Notably the young and well-educated revolutionaries will leave, just as they did after 2004/2010; the majority won’t have this option, however, as they lack the preconditions and would rather stay albeit alienated from the regime.

4. Separate population of concern is the 250,000-300,000 ethnic Tatars on Crimea. They were deported and partly extinguished under the Tsars and Stalin and therefore reject coming under Russian ruling again. They already face racial discrimination and threats and might be forced to leave their homelands once again.

5. Finally, Russia is already giving out Russian passports to ethnic Russian Ukrainians, first in Crimea and then in southern and eastern Ukraine, although dual citizenship is not permitted under Ukrainian law. On the one hand, this undermines ethnic Russians’ loyalty to Ukraine; on the other, it could facilitate travel and migration to Russia, while excluding ethnic Ukrainians.

In the years to come, migration pressure from Ukraine is more likely to increase than not, resulting in migration, irregular migration and in the worst case even refugee flows. The EU and its member states might soon find themselves in a position where they need to deal with increased migration or even refugee flows from Ukraine. Also Poland, a historical ally of Ukraine, already implements a liberal entry system: of the one million Schengen visa issued annually to Ukrainians two thirds are issued by Poland.

If the EU wishes to go beyond cheque book diplomacy and support Ukraine and its economy, society and people in a more comprehensive manner, then it would need to also consider further liberalising current visa requirements, employment restrictions, and a migration and development strategy.

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DISCLAIMER: The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect EPOS WorldView’s editorial policy


Last modified on Tuesday, 23 September 2014 14:13
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