Viola von Cramon

Parliament report on conflicts of interest exposes flaws in system for managing EU funds

On 19 June Members of the European Parliament voted on the report into conflicts of interest in the case of the Czech Prime Minister, Andrej Babiš. The report draws upon a fact-finding mission to Prague in February by Members of the Budgetary Control Committee. The Commission has yet to publish the results of multiple audits into the conflicts of interest around the business dealings of Mr Babiš and EU funds. The report was adopted with an overwhelming majority of 510 votes in favour (53 abstention and 110 against).

Viola von Cramon MEP, Greens/EFA shadow rapporteur on the resolution and Member of the Budgetary Control Committee, comments:

„This report lays bare the problems across the EU in stopping conflicts of interest from existing at the highest levels of government. The case of Andrej Babiš exposes the gaps in the payment system for EU funding: The shared management system has proven that there is a lack of transparency that cannot be tackled under the current provisions. We need revised rules that ensure full transparency about who the final beneficiaries of subsidies are.

„In the case of the Czech Republic, where the Prime Minister has direct influence on all levels of public administration and still is involved in the management of Agrofert, there is no independent information system. We need the tools to address these structural problems in the EU to ensure that EU funds are not siphoned off by oligarchs and those in power.

„In the meantime, however, a very serious conflict of interest remains with the head of an EU government who will shortly be negotiating the next long-term EU budget that could benefit him personally. The Council needs to clearly set out how it intends to protect against such conflicts of interest.“

Resolution zum Schutz von Cross-Border-Arbeiter*innen

Das Europäische Parlament hat eine Resolution zum Schutz und zur Verbesserung der Arbeitsbedingungen von Cross-Border-Arbeiter*innen in Zeiten der Covid-19-Pandemie beschlossen. Diese Resolution kann uns Rückenwind geben, um besonders in Deutschland die Ausbeutung vorwiegend osteuropäischer Arbeiter*innen in der Schlachtindustrie und in anderen Branchen zu bekämpfen.

Den Wortlaut des Entschließungsantrags findet ihr hier auf den Seiten des Europäischen Parlaments.

Meine Pressemitteilung zu dieser Resolution findet ihr hier:

Eine Zusammenfassung einiger wichtiger Forderungen dieser umfangreichen Resolution findet ihr im folgenden Fact-Sheet:

Hope for Belarus

After 26 years of Lukashenko’s dictatorship, people of Belarus demand change. Many new faces with different backgrounds are trying to register as candidates for the upcoming presidential elections on August 9. Unfortunately (but not unexpectedly), Lukashenko is using all methods – from jailing to torture – to suppress the hope of change.

The European Union has a moral obligation to support the fellow Europeans – People of Belarus – in their struggle for fair and free elections. With this goal in mind, my colleagues and I at the European Parliament made a statement urging Lukashenko to follow the will of his people. We also remind him that the EU will not stand idly by while rights and freedoms of Belorussians are being trampled down.

Members of the European Parliament:

Mr Andrius KUBILIUS, Ms Anna FOTYGA, Mr Michael GAHLER, Mr Andrzej Witold HALICKI, Ms Sandra KALNIETE, Ms Miriam LEXMANN, Mr Siegfried MURESAN, Mr Radosław SIKORSKI, Ms Viola VON CRAMON-TAUBADEL

STATEMENT ON BELARUS

Events in Belarus during recent weeks have demonstrated that citizens of Belarus want change. This is confirmed also by objective polls – people want a change in government, a change in policies. With 26 years of A. Lukashenko rule in a country hit by the pandemic and economic hardships, people want a real change – this is a clear signal sent by civil society to A. Lukashenko and to friends of Belarus in Europe.

Changes in Belarus are truly needed. They should neither frighten Belarusian citizens nor Belarusian authorities. The European Union is willing to help Belarus on its path towards these imminent changes. However, only Belarus itself can assume the responsibility to turn these changes into reality.

Changes can mean a change of the ruling leadership, or they can be policy changes implemented by those in power. History of world politics gives us several examples, where long-term leaders wisely listened to peacefully expressed demands for change of their citizens, and they themselves initiated a radical shift in their policy agenda to meet those demands. Belarus is now in a situation where both alternative scenarios are possible.

In the run-up to the Presidential elections in Belarus, we witness, as never before, high participation of civil society in support of alternative Presidential candidates to A. Lukashenko. There is a clearly visible division between those who want to maintain the status quo, and those seeking a real change.  Hence, on 9 August, the Belarusian people can make a truly strategic choice: to continue as before, or to choose a path of wise changes. Both decisions of the Belarusian people would be equally legitimate and respected, on the condition that they are taken during free and fair elections.

However, the possibility for the Belarusian people to choose in such free and fair elections depends largely on the personal decision of A. Lukashenko. Will he have the wisdom to hear the demands of his fellow citizens, or will he decide to suppress the hope for any change by non-democratic administrative means or even by force.

In case A. Lukashenko will choose the first option and will put an effort to demonstrate that he hears the peoples’ demand for change, it would be enough for him to uphold several basic principles:

  1. to stop harassment and persecution of politicians, civic and opposition activists, potential Presidential candidates, including Sergei Tikhanovski and Viktor Babariko, and to release those in custody, including Pavel Severinec and others;
  2. to allow registration of candidates who collected the necessary number of supporting signatures without any deliberate administrative hindrance;
  3. to ensure equal campaigning conditions, including in media, for all candidates;
  4. to guarantee a free, fair and transparent election process;
  5. to commit publicly to accept the results of the elections whatever the outcome;
  6. finally, to promise that if he wins the Presidential elections, he will ensure free and democratic parliamentary elections.

Such position of A. Lukashenko would allow for hope, that a policy change in Belarus is possible without a change of personalities in power.

This would also create conditions for the EU to open doors for Belarus to enjoy additional benefits through EU Eastern Partnership cooperation and support, which are urgently needed for Belarus in these unprecedented times when the country suffers from the pandemic and its economic fallout.

On the other hand, if A. Lukashenko once again ignores the voice of his fellow citizens, as was the case until now, and chooses again the second option, i.e. to deny the right to a free choice by administrative manipulations or even by force, – we will do our utmost to ensure that the democratic community responds with the most robust reaction vis-a-vis A. Lukashenko personally, his political entourage and the repressive structures.

Repressions, intimidation and arrests (including of members of the democratic opposition) are no way to conduct an election, or to bring a country together, but merely cynical steps designed to hold on to power at all costs. A. Lukashenka must understand that the EU will not tolerate such acts and that they should and will have consequences, including possible targeted sanctions on groups, individuals and entities, and will have an impact on EU decisions regarding the financial assistance to Belarus, including the resilience package.

We hope that this time this will not be necessary. Every authority has to listen to the voice of society, which demands change. Those, who do not want to hear, will remain in the margins of history. Those who listen and implement the demand, prove that they have the wisdom of a statesman. Otherwise, they must pay for the consequences of their actions.

Belarus is a strong and important European state. Strong states do not fear change. Change frightens only those who are weak.

Statement of European Parliament’s Standing Rapporteurs for Kosovo and for Serbia

Brussels, 16 June 2020

 

“During the Covid-19 pandemic the EU has stood firmly by its partners in the Western Balkans, providing medical and humanitarian aid coupled with robust financial assistance and inclusion in the joint procurement schemes. We have also been engaged in constant online political discussions with our Western Balkans partners and have strongly supported the relaunch of the Belgrade-Pristina Dialogue as a matter of political priority. Too much time has been wasted and we therefore welcome EU Special Representative Miroslav Lajčák’s first visit to Kosovo to be followed by his visit to Serbia next week.

 

As EP Standing Rapporteurs for Serbia and for Kosovo, we give full support to EU MR Lajčák in his tasks and urge political leaders from both sides to engage – in good faith and constructively – with the EU Special Representative. There is no alternative to the European Union facilitated Dialogue because both Serbia and Kosovo are European countries with a clear European perspective and both Serbia and Kosovo have committed to joining the EU. Miroslav Lajčák can count on our unequivocal support and our cooperation during his talks linked to advancing the Dialogue.”

 

Vladimír Bilčík, MEP, EP Standing Rapporteur for Serbia

Viola von Cramon-Taubadel, MEP, EP Standing Rapporteur for Kosovo

Kosovo: Government Crisis & Constitutional Shortcomings – a Never Ending Story?

Viola von Cramon-Taubadel MEP cordially invites you to join the webinar

Kosovo: Government Crisis & Constitutional Shortcomings – a Never Ending Story?

The recent dismissal of the Kosovar government and the formation of a new one without previous elections have raised a number of constitutional issues, which eventually had to be resolved by a judgement of the Constitutional Court of Kosovo. In this webinar we will discuss the judgement, the ambiguities and shortcomings in the constitution that led to it, but also political events around it with high-ranking legal experts – followed by a round of Q&A.

Monday, 22 June 2020, 19:30 – 21:00

Platform: ZOOM (https://tinyurl.com/y7apmtu5)

Host & Speaker:

Viola von Cramon-Taubadel MEP

Moderator:

André De Munter – Desk Officer for Kosovo, Directorate-General for External Policies of the Union, European Parliament

Speakers:

Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. Constance Grewe – former Judge and Vice-President of the Constitutional Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina; Professor for Constitutional Law

Dr. Gjyljeta Mushkolaj – Member of the Constitutional Commission of Kosovo (2008); former Judge of the Constitutional Court of Kosovo; Associated Professor at the Faculty of Law of the University of Prishtina

Alina Svyderska – the newest lawmaker of Ukraine

To unlock Ukraine’s full potential in producing renewable energy, improving the country’s regulatory environment is vital. This requires experienced, efficient and honest lawmakers. Today, Verkhovna Rada just gained one.


Congratulations to Alina Svyderska with becoming the newest lawmaker from the „Holos“ list. Congratulations to the Verkhovna Rada too for gaining such an experienced, motivated and honest member with outstanding expertise in the renewable energy market. This aspect was unfortunately underrepresented at the Ukrainian parliament and hopefully, things will start changing now.


Looking forward seeing Alina and other progressive lawmakers bringing about the needed change for Ukraine.

More about Alina here:
https://www.kyivpost.com/special/alina-sviderska-western-educated-professional-takes-aim-overregulation-boost-investment.html

Besuch beim Betriebsrat der Peiner Träger GmbH

Am Donnerstag, den 4. Juni war ich in Peine und habe die Peiner Träger GmbH besucht. Im Gespräch mit dem Betriebsratsvorsitzenden Udo Meyer und seiner Stellvertreterin Gabriele Handke wurde deutlich, wie massiv die Stahlbranche von der Covid-19-Pandemie betroffen ist. Hier muss auf europäischer Ebene mit Zöllen entgegengesteuert werden, damit der Stahlmarkt nicht Dumpingpreisen und unfairem Wettbewerb unterliegt.

Gleichzeitig trifft die Krise den Stahlmarkt in einer Zeit, in der der Umbau zu klimaneutraler Stahlproduktion forciert wird. Um diese Transformation weiter voranzutreiben und zu unterstützen, bedarf es entsprecheneder politischer Rahmenbedingungen.

Die Pressemitteilung zu meinem Besuch findet ihr hier:

To the Caucasian House: reply to the reply of the reply

Viola von Cramon, member of the European Parliament and a leading member of DEG (Democracy Support and Election Coordination Group), replied to the second open letter received from the Caucasian House in English (annexed at the end). The first reply can be found here.

(არაოფიციალური ქართული თარგმანი იხილეთ ქვემოთ, რომელიც წაკითხულ უნდა იქნას ორიგინალთან ერთად)

Dear Caucasian House,

I received your letter.

Regrettably, the bar in the correspondence keeps lowering. I cannot allow myself to go that deep. Hence, my final reply.

In your first letter, you repeatedly and falsely accused me of declaring some politicians as “political prisoners”. To back up your libel, you quoted my tweet from February where I state that “persecution of political opponents is unacceptable and damages Georgia”. If you believe “political opponents” equate to “political prisoners”, I have to once again kindly remind you of the virtue of good reading.

In another attempted argument, you also bring up my support for the March 8 agreement. The agreement is a great achievement of Georgian democracy as it paves the way to fairer, more competitive parliamentary elections. Therefore, it is not my support for the agreement that is surprising, but your reluctance to hold your Government accountable for unkept words. Mr. Ivanishvili’s Georgian Dream has once already broken this promise and now, attempting to do it again makes it look more and more like Saakashvili’s despicable regime.

You also seem to insinuate that I should be kept accountable for the words that some members of the European Parliament might or might not have said. None of the people you mentioned are members of my party, moreover, they are my political opponents. Therefore, it is, to put it mildly, ineffective to be demanding the explanation for the words of my political opponents from me while falsely attributing the exact same words to me. If you wanted to hear the explanation on my political opponents’ words, you should have titled your letter with their names – not mine.

The main question here to ask is, why are you so persistently attacking your international ally with obvious and easy to refute lies? Why are you risking every bit of credibility of your non-governmental organization? Could it be that it is not the noble pursuit of justice you are after but instead you are pushing a badly disguised political agenda?

Your narrative in both letters demonstrates uncanny resemblance with the narrative of Georgian Dream and repeats some points made by the Government officials. A (seemingly) organized media campaign against me by you and the pro-Georgian Dream TV channel “Imedi” (also featuring people subtitled as “Political Experts”) further suggests that you are not acting alone in this endeavor.

I would advise the Caucasian House to either live up to its status as an independent civil organization or come clean about its political agenda. Because we, your allies, deserve to know who we are dealing with.

Only after that can I consider my visit to the Caucasian House to discuss “Saakashvili’s brutal regime” (that ended almost 8 years ago) but more importantly – ongoing problems like the violent crackdown on demonstrators, intransparent appointment of judges (some with very questionable education), persecution of political opponents, backsliding on democracy, Russian occupation and many other obstacles hindering Georgia to be a country its people deserve.

I hope in future you will find more constructive ways to communicate with your allies and start re-building the bridges that were, unfortunately, badly damaged by baseless and uninformed personal accusations.

Sincerely,

Viola von Cramon

_______________________________________________________________________________

ვიოლა ფონ კრამონმა, ევრიპარლამენტის წევრმა და „DEG“-ის (დემოკრატიის მხარდაჭერისა და არჩევნების კოორდინაციის ჯგუფი) წამყვანმა წევრმა, უპასუხა კავკასიური სახლის მეორე ინგლისურენოვან ღია წერილს (დართულია ქვემოთ. კავკასიური სახლის წერილის ქართულ ვერსია ხელმისაწვდომია მათ ვებგვერდზე). პასუხი პირველ წერილზე შეგიძლიათ იხილოთ აქ.

პატივცემულო ქალბატონებო და ბატონებო,

მივიღე თქვენი მონაწერი.

სამწუხაროა, რომ თამასა მიმოწერაში აგრძელებს დაბლა დაშვებას. თავს ვერ მივცემ ასე ღრმად ჩამოყოლის უფლებას. შესაბამისად, იხილეთ ჩემი უკანსაკნელი პასუხი.

თქვენს პირველ წერილში არაერთგზის და ამავდროულად მცდარად დამდეთ ბრალი ზოგიერთი პოლიტიკოსის „პოლიტპატიმრად“ შერაცხვაში. ამ ცილისწამების განსამტკიცებლად ციტატად მოიყვანეთ თებერვალში გაკეთებული ჩემი კომენტარი ტვიტერიდან სადაც ვაცხადებ, რომ „პოლიტიკური ოპონენტების დევნა დაუშვებელია და აზიანებს საქართველოს“. თუ თქვენ ფიქრობთ, რომ „პოლიტიკური ოპონენტი“ იგივეა რაც „პოლიტიკური პატიმარი“, მაშინ იძულებული ვარ კიდევ ერთხელ შეგახსენოთ კარგად კითხვის აუცილებლობის შესახებ.

არგუმენტირების კიდევ ერთი მცდელობისას, თქვენ მახსენებთ ჩემ მიერ 8 მარტის შეთანხმების მხარდაჭერას. ეს შეთანხმება, კვალავს რა გზას უფრო სამართლიანი, უფრო კონკურენტუნარიანი არჩევნებისკენ, დიდი მიღწევაა ქართული დემოკრატიისთვის. შესაბამისად, გასაკვირია არა ჩემ მიერ შეთანხმების მხარდაჭერა, არამედ თქვენი ჭოჭმანი შეახსენოთ თქვენს ხელისუფლებას მათი ანგარიშვალდებულება და მოსთხოვოთ სიტყვის შესრულება. ბატონი ივანიშვილის ქართულმა ოცნებამ ერთხელ უკვე გატეხა თავისი პირობა და ახლა იმავეს გაკეთების კიდევ ერთი მცდელობა უფრო და უფრო ამსგავსებს მას სააკაშვილის საზარელ რეჟიმს.

თქვენ თითქოს ასევე მიანიშნებთ, რომ მე უნდა ვიყო ანგარიშვალდებული იმაზე თუ რა თქვა ან არ თქვა ევროპარლამენტის ზოგიერთმა წევრმა. თქვენ მიერ ჩამოთვლილ პირთაგან არცერთი არ არის ჩემი პარტიის წევრი. უფრო მეტიც, ისინი არიან ჩემი პოლიტიკური ოპონენტები. შესაბამისად, მსუბუქად რომ ვთქვათ, ცოტა არ იყოს არაეფექტურია ჩემგან მოითხოვდეთ განმარტებას ჩემი ოპონენტების იმ სიტყვებზე, რომლებსაც თქვენ მცდარად ისევ მე მომაწერთ. თქვენ თუ ჩემი ოპონენტების სიტყვებზე განმარტების მოსმენა გსურდათ მაშინ თქვენი წერილი უნდა დაგესათაურებინათ მათი სახელებით და არა ჩემით.

მთავარი კითხვა, რომელსაც აქ პასუხი უნდა გაეცეს, არის ის, თუ რატომ უტევთ ასე გამალებით, აშკარა და მარტივად უარსაყოფი ტყუილებით თქვენს საერთაშორისო მოკავშირეს? რატომ აყენებთ თქვენი არასამთავრობო ორგანიზაციის სანდოობას კითხვის ნიშნის ქვეშ? იქნებ, სამართლიანობის პოვნის კეთილშობილური მიზანი კი არა ცუდად შენიღბული პოლიტიკური მოტივი გამოძრავებთ?

თქვენი ნარატივი ორივე წერილში აშკარა მსგავსებას ავლენს ქართული ოცნების ნარატივთან და იმეორებს რამდენიმე იმ პუნქტს, რომელსაც მთავრობის წევრები აჟღერებდნენ. თქვენსა და ქართული ოცნების მხარდამჭერი ტელეკომპანია „იმედის“ მიერ ჩემს წინააღმდეგ  წარმოებული (სავარაუდოდ) ორგანიზებული მედია კამპანია („პოლიტოლოგებად“ წოდებული პირების მონაწილეობით) ასევე მიუთითებს იმაზე, რომ თქვენს წამოწყებაში მარტო არ მოქმედებთ.

მე ვურჩევდი კავკასიურ სახლს, რომ ან იყოს დამოუკიდებელი სამოქალაქო ორგანიზაციის სტატუსის ერთგული ან ღიად განაცხადოს თავისი პოლიტიკური მოტივების შესახებ. ჩვენ, თქვენს მოკავშირეებს, გვაქვს უფლება ვიცოდეთ, ვისთან გვაქვს საქმე.

მხოლოდ ამის შემდეგ შემიძლია განვიხილო თქვენთან სტუმრობის შესაძლებლობა, რათა ვისაუბროთ „სააკაშვილის სასტიკ რეჟიმზე“ (რომელიც თითქმის 8 წლის წინ დასრულდა), მაგრამ უწინარესად მიმდინარე პრობლემებზე. ისეთ პრობლემებზე როგორებიცაა დემონსტრანტების ძალადობრივი დაშლა, მოსამართლეთა გაუმჭვირვალე დანიშნვა (ზოგიერთი მათგანი საკამათო განათლებით), პოლიტიკური ოპონენტების დევნა, დემოკრატიაზე გულის აცრუება, რუსული ოკუპაცია და სხვა მრავალი წინაღობა რომელიც აბრკოლებს საქართველოს იყოს ის ქვეყანა, რომელსაც მისი ხალხი იმსახურებს.

იმედი მაქვს, მომავალში მოახერხებთ თქვენს მოკავშირეებთან კომუნიკაციის უფრო კონსტრუქციული გზების შერჩევას და დაიწყებთ იმ ხიდების აღდგენას, რომლებიც უსაფუძვლო და არაინფორმირებულმა პირადმა ბრალდებებმა სამწუხაროდ ძლიერ დააზიანა.

პატივისცემით,

ვიოლა ფონ კრამონი

___________________________________________________________________

ANNEX: the open letter received in English from the Caucasian House and also available in Georgian here:

Dear Ms. von Cramon-Taubadel,

Thank you for your prompt response.

However, we have to say that we too are disappointed by the style of your letter, which we can easily call “less diplomatic”.

We could endlessly delve into the style of the text and the specifics of its perception, but any further discussions about its formal features cannot be serious when its content deals with such grave problems.

We have no doubt that you are pursuing a noble goal of promoting the establishment of a justice system free of political motivations in Georgia; for this, as already mentioned in our previous letter, we would like to express our sincere gratitude not only to you, but to EU and its respective institutions.

But we and a significant part of our society are left with a question: what has been the outcome of your efforts?

On February 11th in one of your Twitter messages, you mentioned “persecution of political opponents” by the Georgian government. Also, in a short note published on your website on May 13th (which we were called upon to read and which we had read already), you call on the Government of Georgia to implement the agreement of March 8.

As a result of executing this agreement two offenders with serious criminal record – described by the United National Movement and the pseudo-neutral groups affiliated with it, as well as by your colleagues: David McAllister, Anna Fotyga, Andrzej Halicki and others, as “important political prisoners”, were released; this is insulting and traumatizing the persons tortured and killed by the Saakashvili’s authoritarian regime and their families. For the parents of Buta Robakidze, a completely innocent young man shot and killed in the street back in 2004, during Irakli Okruashvili’s tenure as Georgia’s interior minister, the solemn release of this person equates the repeated murder of their son; just to bring up this one example.

And if we have addressed you and not the right-wing politicians, that’s because you have opposed Saakashvili’s bloody regime and his United National Movement, and because we share common values ​​with you representing the Green Party. However, if we have not properly acknowledged your merits, we apologize.

To sum it up – you talk about your noble intentions, which we didn’t doubt while we are talking about their actual gloomy results.

We are also grateful for reminding us of the well-known truth that the perpetrators too deserve a fair trial. It is also obvious that the justice system under the Georgian Dream deserves much criticism.  Also, the fact remains that for some internal or external reasons, participants and supporters of Saakashvili’s criminal regime are currently holding seats in Georgian parliament. Actually, fair trial also exists for them but not for the ordinary citizens.

Besides, we were surprised that you have answered the second, no less important part of our letter, rather in general terms. We are very pleased that the European Union is launching the European Green Deal, and we have already discussed this issue with the students and pupils involved in the educational program of the Caucasian House. We hope that Europe will be able to achieve the main goals of this roadmap by 2050.

But the construction of those giant hydropower plants and reservoirs, i.e. the destruction of Georgia’s unique ecosystems, has already begun, and the population of our highlands left defenseless against these developments needs help now. However, we, unfortunately, can do little against the forces backed by our former and current governments, or perhaps even by much more powerful players (e.g. by Russia, or by large corporations registered in offshore zones); Maybe you could find time and post respective comments on your website, or advise us what we should and could do.

You mentioned that you have connections with many Georgian scientists, experts and ordinary citizens. We would be pleased to welcome you at the Caucasian House so that we would be able to talk directly about the plight of the country that, for many reasons, is unable to bring justice to Saakashvili’s brutal regime; the country that is literally left alone vis-à-vis Russia and can do nothing against its creeping occupation; the country, where mass unemployment and poverty prevail, and whose living space is literally being swallowed up by water almost completely.

P.S. We are very glad to see you quoting the German-Georgian writer Giwi Margwelaschwili. During almost the quarter of a century Caucasian House has been studying, translating and publishing the works of this truly genius writer, philosopher and linguist. We hope that quoting his phrases by politicians, even if taken out of context, will at the very least encourage more thorough reading of the oeuvres of this outstanding author.

With best wishes,

Caucasian House

Naira Gelashvili, Giorgi Lobzhanidze, Levan Lortkipanidze, Thea Galdava, Ivane Abramashvili.

Statement about the election of the new government of Kosovo

On 3 June the Parliament of Kosovo has voted for a new Prime Minister of Kosovo, after the decision of the Constitutional Court. 61 members from 120 voted in favour of Mr Avdullah Hoti of the LDK party.

Mrs. Viola von Cramon-Taubadel, Member of the European Parliament, Standing Rapporteur for Kosovo has commented on the vote:

„I would like to wish a successful work for Mr. Avdullah Hoti and his government in Pristina. The government has a lot to do, these are crucial times both for domestic and international issues, I hope the new government will be able to execute reforms and work for a better Kosovo.

However, we cannot turn a blind eye on the circumstances of the election of Mr Hoti. The democratically elected members of the Parliament of Kosovo were under extremely big pressure from LDK leadership and from President Thaçi. Various sources claimed that the president visited personally those members of the Assembly, whose vote for the new government was not ensured. If these claims are true, it is a very bad signal and shows that the role of the Parliament, which is guaranteed by the Constitution is undermined. As a parliamentarian myself, I find it unacceptable to pressure the democratically elected members of the Assembly. It is the very basis of our democracies that MPs can vote according to their free will and best conscience.“

Nontransparent recruitment practices by the Minister of Health of Ukraine – Mr. Stepanov

(Будь ласка, дивіться неофіційний український переклад нижче)

Viola von Cramon, member of the European Parliament and the Vice-Chair of the EU-Ukraine Parliamentary Delegation, commented the nontransparent recruitment practices at the Ministry of Health of Ukraine:

With the number of COVID-19 patients quickly reaching 25 000 in Ukraine, who runs the National Health Service (NHSU /НСЗУ) is literally a question of life and death. In this particularly difficult time, one wishes the minister Stepanov would appoint a professional and honest head of NHSU through a transparent and independent selection process. Mr. Stepanov is yet again out there conducting job interviews but I am afraid it’s not the transparency and honesty he is aiming for.

One of the candidates for the job – Ms. Iryna Lytovchenko – disclosed the interview invitation in her facebook post. It seems like the interviews for such a crucial position will be conducted on Zoom, will start at 14:00 and will take only 30 minutes for each candidate. The candidates are invited in alphabetical order. Knowing that Ms. L-ytovchenko is booked for 18:20, through doing basic math, one would expect the interviewing of all candidates to drag till midnight. Why is the ministry running an interview-marathon at midnight when the future of such a vital institution as NHSU is on stake? 

…and NHSU is indeed extremely vital! Its budget of 86 Mrd UAH comprises more than 3% of the GDP of Ukraine. Thousands of medical institutions with over 100 000 doctors and 135 000 medical assistants conduct their activities through the services of NHSU. Management or Mismanagement of these services decides about health and life of almost 30 Mio. Ukrainians registered with NHSU.

Given the importance of this institution, one would expect the ministry to approach the task of recruiting the head of NHSU with the utmost care and transparency.

Here is the grim reality: on May 19th, the minister met with three final candidates previously selected through an open and professional recruitment procedure. Without any explanation, he unexpectedly rejected all three. Later, the Ministry hastily published a new job opening with only a few days to apply. And as for the recruitment requirement, the job posting listed for a minimum professional qualification either three years of experience in state administration or in state financial guarantees in medical care. The catch is, the new system of state financial guarantees exists for just two years. So, there can be nobody with three years of experience in managing state financial guarantees. A cunning way to exclude candidates experienced in the work of NHSU. Put differently – the Minister is trying to exclude people with professional qualifications for the job.

Mr. Stepanov seems to be in a great hurry and not shying away from taking advantage of the COVID 19 crisis. The Law of Ukraine #553, enacted for extraordinary circumstances, allows the minister to fire and hire high position officials as he pleases, even through a 30-minute zoom interviews and without asking for the highly relevant professional qualifications. 

While the quarantine restrictions are being gradually loosened all over the country, neither the Parliament nor the Government seems to be in a hurry to move back to transparent recruitment procedures.

The minister’s dubious decision to rush the recruitment process in an utterly nontransparent way risks putting long-lasting damage on NHSU and thus risks the health and life of millions of Ukrainians. I happen to vividly remember Mr. Stepanov from his time as the Governor of Odesa. Back then he had a reputation closely associated with corruption and embezzling public funds.

Now, the Minister Stepanov does not seem to be enjoying a reputation any better than the Governor Stepanov did. It took him only several days as a minister to get into another scandal. The protective gear for medical personnel was procured with twice inflated prices – suggesting deeply rooted corruption of the new management.

It seems, the ministry’s appetite for corruption was only warming up. As the leaks from the last week demonstrated, the Minister was planning yet another procurement of medical gear with the prices inflated at least three times. Due to the leaks and the public pressure, the procurement plan was scrapped for the time being.

Considering the long corruption track of Mr. Stepanov’s short time as a minister, should not it be more logical to be conducting the job interviews for replacing him in the first place?

Why is someone with such low regard of medical staff and a high association with corruption in charge of selecting the head of NHSU, administering 86 Mrd UAH, and deciding on life and health of 30 000 000 Ukrainians?

______________________________________________________________________________________________

Неофіційний переклад українською:

В той час як кількість пацієнтів із COVID-19 в Україні стрімко наближається до 25 000, питання про те, хто керує Національною службою здоров’я України (НСЗУ) буквально є питанням життя та смерті. У цей особливо важкий час хочеться, щоб міністр охорони здоров’я Степанов призначив професійного та чесного керівника НСЗУ шляхом проведення прозорого і незалежного відбору. Пан Степанов в черговий раз проводить співбесіди, але я боюся, що прозорість та чесність – це не ті критерії, якими він керується.

Одна із кандидатів на посаду, пані Ірина Литовченко, оприлюднила запрошення на співбесіду у своєму дописі у Facebook. Схоже, інтерв’ю на таку вирішальну посаду будуть проводитись у режимі Zoom-конференції, розпочнуться о 14:00 та триватимуть із кожним кандидатом лише по 30 хвилин. Кандидати будуть запрошені в алфавітному порядку. Враховуючи, що співбесіда з пані Литовченко запланована на 18:20, проста арифметика дозволяє припустити, що інтерв’ю з усіма кандидатами триватиме до опівночі. Чому Міністерство проводить цей марафон співбесід опівночі, коли майбутнє такої життєво важливої установи як НСЗУ стоїть на карті?

… а НСЗУ і справді є життєво важливим органом! Його бюджет дорівнює 86 млрд грн, що становить понад 3% ВВП України. Тисячі медичних установ із понад 100 000 лікарів та 135 000 фельдшерів здійснюють свою діяльність через служби НСЗУ. Управління, або ж невміле управління, цією службою вирішує питання здоров’я та життя майже 30 мільйонів українців, зареєстрованих у НСЗУ з квітня 2018 року.

Зважаючи на важливість цієї установи, можна було б очікувати, що Міністерство поставиться до завдання призначення голови НСЗУ з максимальною ретельністю та прозорістю.

Та ось похмура реальність: 19 травня міністр зустрівся з трьома «фінальними» кандидатами, відібраними раніше шляхом відкритого та професійного конкурсу. Без жодних пояснень він несподівано відхилив усіх трьох кандидатів. Пізніше Міністерство поспішно опублікувало нове оголошення про відкриття вакансії, надаючи лише кілька днів для подачі документів. Що ж стосується вимог до посади, то серед останніх значилася наявність мінімальної професійної кваліфікації у вигляді трирічного досвіду роботи або у сфері державного управління, або ж у сфері державних фінансових гарантій медичного обслуговування населення. Проблема в тому, що нова система державних фінансових гарантій існує лише два роки. Отже, взагалі ніхто не має трирічного досвіду управління державними фінансовими гарантіями. Досить хитрий спосіб усунути кандидатів, що мають досвід роботи у НСЗУ. Іншими словами, міністр намагається виключити з відбору на посаду людей, які мають професійну кваліфікацію якраз для такої роботи.

Пан Степанов, схоже, дуже поспішає і не упускає можливість скористатися кризою, викликаною COVID 19. Закон України № 553, прийнятий у надзвичайних обставинах, дозволяє міністру звільняти та наймати високопосадовців як йому заманеться, навіть шляхом проведення 30-хвилинних співбесід через Zoom та навіть не вимагаючи вкрай важливої професійної кваліфікації.

В той час як карантинні обмеження поступово послаблюються по всій країні, здається, що ні Парламент, ні Уряд не поспішають повертатися до прозорих процедур призначень.

Сумнівне рішення міністра прискорити конкурсний процес вкрай непрозорим способом ризикує нанести довготривалу шкоду функціонуванню НСЗУ і, тим самим, загрожує здоров’ю та життю мільйонів українців. Так склалося, що я добре пам’ятаю пана Степанова з його часів як губернатора Одеської області. Тоді він мав репутацію, тісно пов’язану з корупцією та розкраданням державних коштів.

Тепер, здається, міністр Степанов не користується репутацією кращою, ніж колись губернатор Степанов. Лише за кілька днів перебування на посаді міністра, він потрапив в черговий скандал. Зокрема, засоби захисту для медичного персоналу були закуплені за завищеними вдвічі цінами, що говорить про глибоко закоренілу корупцію нового керівництва.

Але схоже, що апетит міністерства до корупції лише розігрівався. Як свідчить витік даних, що стався минулого тижня, міністр планував ще одну закупівлю медичного обладнання за цінами, завищеними щонайменше втричі. Наразі, через витік даних та тиск громадськості, план закупівель був відмінений.

Беручи до уваги довгий корупційний шлях пана Степанова за його короткий час на посаді міністра, чи не було б логічнішим в першу чергу проводити співбесіду на заміщення його посади? Чому хтось із таким низьким рівнем ставлення до медичного персоналу та високим зв’язком з корупцією відповідає за вибір глави НСЗУ – органу, що управляє 86 мільярдами гривень та приймає рішення про життя та здоров’я 30 мільйонів українців?