Bilateral cooperation between Germany and Ukraine has steadily intensified since the Revolution of Dignity in 2014 and the subsequent military aggression by the Russian Federation. This is reflected, among other things, in the establishment of new institutions, such as the Working Group Ukraine of the Federal Foreign Office, or the appointment of the former Prime Minister of Saxony, Georg Milbradt, as special advisor for the Ukrainian reform agenda, who is particularly committed to the decentralisation process. Despite the successes of recent years and thoroughly positive signals at the recent EU-Ukraine summit, it would not be correct to say that there are not also reasons for concern. If the Ukrainian government fails to implement effective measures against the still widespread corruption and for strengthening the rule of law, its commitment to the reform process will lose credibility. The recent ruling of the Constitutional Court, which among other things prevents the prosecution of tax evasion among civil servants, was not only a wrong signal to the outside world, but also the reversal of six years of work in the fight against corruption.
The guests of the 4th Germany Breakfast Debate on October 29, 2020, discussed perspectives on the current development of German-Ukrainian cooperation with Galyna Yanchenko (Sluha Narodu), the Co-Chair of the Ukrainian-German Parliamentary Group in the Verkhovna Rada, and Omid Nouripour (Bündnis 90/DIE GRÜNEN), the Chairman of the German-Ukrainian Parliamentary Group in the German Bundestag.
We were particularly happy about the participation of the German Ambassador in Kyiv, Anka Feldhusen, under whose patronage the Germany Breakfast Debates are held. In a short speech at the beginning of the event she stressed the importance of exchange formats such as the Breakfast Debates for bilateral relations. Just one day before, the Ukrainian Constitutional Court had declared a number of anti-corruption laws invalid – another sign that the exchange between German and Ukrainian parliamentarians should definitely be continued via online events like this one to increase mutual knowledge and understanding.
After a brief overview of the current situation by Katrin Böttger, director at the IEP, and the welcome address by Sergiy Solodkyy from the partner organisation New Europe Center (NEC), the discussion began with an insight into the priorities of parliamentary cooperation. The central topic remains Russia’s aggression in Eastern Ukraine. What is asked of Germany is not only solidarity and engagement in the Normandy format, but also an active discussion about the status of Crimea – silence is only helping to normalise the situation. On the other hand, Germany could learn a lot from the Ukrainian experience in terms of the dissemination of fake news and hybrid warfare. Not only in terms of the relations with Russia, but also in its interaction with Belarus.
Questions from the audience mainly concerned sanctions against Russia and the extent to which the Navalny case could potentially impact the North Stream 2 project. The further the construction progresses, the less likely it is that the pipeline, which has become a real political issue, will be stopped. Other points of discussion were Germany’s historical responsibility and the associated moral and financial obligations towards Ukraine as well as the role of the German-Ukrainian Historical Commission, for which the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry recently withdrew its support. At the end of the debate, not only the results of the Ukrainian local elections were discussed, but also the potential consequences of the outcome of the US elections for Ukraine.
The 4th Germany Breakfast Debate took place within the framework of the “German Ukrainian Researchers Network” project (GURN 1, 2019-2020) and was conducted in close cooperation with the Ukrainian partner organisation New Europe Center (NEC). The format has been continued since March 2021 as part of the GURN 2 project.