In November 2013, Ukraine’s civil society demonstrated its willingness to take a step towards the European integration at the very heart of Kyiv Maidan Nezalezhnosti (Independence Square). Continuous protests lasted several months and led to a resignation of the former President Viktor Yanukovych in late February 2014. A newly elected President Petro Poroshenko was at the forefront of the early presidential elections scheduled for May 25, 2014. Symbolically, national elections in Ukraine coincided with the elections of the European Parliament. On that day, the country declared a new strategic turn towards European integration.
The pro-European course of the newly elected government was affirmed by the signing the economic part of the Ukraine-European Union Association Agreement which was claimed as the “most decisive step towards membership” by the President Poroshenko. Consequently, the presidential elections were followed by the parliamentary elections in October 2015 with the outcome of the pro-European coalition in the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine. Yet, challenges for the current government remain the same: to fight corruption, perform rapid reforms, strengthen the army to resolve the conflict in the occupied territories, and the return the peninsula of Crimea.
What significantly changed is the fact that Western-educated young professionals joined the anticorruption army. The initiative “Western Educated Professionals” contributes to the public service of the country, as the new appointees do not have a shady past related to corruption. Among young professionals who graduated from universities abroad, one can find Deputy Minister of Justice, two Members of the Parliament, and other individuals who joined the public service by choice. Having individuals not affiliated with a corrupt past who will work towards the pro-European changes in the country is a new and crucial change. Furthermore, a cosmetic reform of the police, launched by the Ministry of Interior and headed by a former Georgian reformer Eka Zguladge, has been initiated throughout the country. Newly recruited policemen and policewomen play a critical role in regaining the trust in the service amongst the Ukrainian population.
Even though Ukraine has already stepped onto a reformist path, it is still inevitable to push effective and sustainable reforms much further. During President Poroshenko’s last visit to Brussels, the President of the European Commission noted the “enormous progress” in reforming with the further need to tackle corruption. Thus, it is crucial to demonstrate constant improvements and to tackle existent issues so as to have the EU as a close partner.