Wednesday, 28 February 2018

Will Moldova – in an Election Year – Lose Its Crown as Pace-Setter in the Eastern Partnership?

'Moldova is the frontrunner in both dimensions of the Eastern Partnership Index 2015-2016, but is closely followed in Linkage by Georgia and in Approximation by Ukraine.' - Eastern Partnership Index 2015-2016, published by the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum

Parliamentary elections are scheduled to take place in Moldova in November 2018, not long after the next Eastern Partnership Index is due to be published. Between now and then, the current tug of war in Moldova is likely to intensify – not just between President Igor Dodon's tilt towards Russia and the stated pro-EU policies of the current government, but also between those who value an active civil society and those who would rather independent civic actors kept out of politics, between those who cherish a diverse and independent media and those who want a media that backs their political and business interests, and between those who want an independent judiciary and prosecution service versus those who would prefer to continue to enrich themselves at the expense of the public purse.

This is not a split based on geopolitical orientation (there is even collusion between the so-called pro-Russia and pro-EU forces, for instance on pushing through the change to a mixed electoral system, strengthening the hands of business interests in the new single-member seats), and the future democratic trajectory depends on new political actors emerging, either to form government or to work intensely with civil society and independent media to hold the government to account.

Sound familiar? Yes, it could be said of other Eastern Partnership countries too (we all know that Ukraine and Georgia have their own problems with the nexus of political power, media, and business).

The latest edition of the Eastern Partnership Index covered the first year of the Association Agreements between three EaP countries (Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine), and saw Moldova retain its leading position, but a more comprehensive picture will be available in the next edition of the Index, due to be published in September/October 2018. Just as Ukraine had a later start with the new trade arrangements (the bilateral Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area agreements with the EU), so the forthcoming index will also reflect the fact that Georgia and Ukraine have caught up with Moldova in securing visa-free travel to the Schengen zone.

After a pause to refine the methodology, not least to reflect the increased importance of sustainable development, human rights, and security in the region, the new Index rests on two dimensions: Approximation and Linkage. What was formerly known as the Eastern Partnership European Integration Index (last edition 2014, published in 2015) has been transformed into the Eastern Partnership Index. The new Eastern Partnership Index (the 2015-2016 edition – Editor in Chief: Jeff Lovitt) is now published and online, events were held in Brussels and Kyiv recently, and more will follow.

The results show that the entry into force of the Association Agreements brought about considerable headway in integration with the EU in the case of Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine within the period covered (the data takes in developments until the end of December 2016, although the narrative shows the full picture until the end of 2017).

Moldova emerged as the frontrunner in the 2015-2016 Index, albeit with only a slight advantage over Georgia in Linkage and over Ukraine in Approximation. Moldova may not maintain that leading position in the Index, due later this year. Indeed, already the 2015-2016 Index shows that Moldova lags behind Ukraine and Georgia when it comes to International Security, Political Dialogue and Co-operation. While Ukraine had by far the most intense political dialogue with the EU, it also enjoyed the highest position in International Security, Political Dialogue and Co-operation, and held the lead in Sectoral Co-operation and Trade Flows.

Moreover, the three Association Agreement signatories are not so far ahead of at least one of the other Eastern Partnership countries. The three were joined by Armenia as the leaders in Approximation to EU standards and international norms, a reflection of the progress that has continued in Armenia in spite of its government’s U-turn from signing an Association Agreement in 2014.

Most tellingly, the Index reflects the need to fight state capture and to strengthen oversight (including by civil society and other independent experts) in Ukraine, Moldova, and Georgia. In Belarus and Azerbaijan, the EU must work for a place at the table for civil society, and apply diplomatic efforts to free political prisoners and foster an independent media. In Armenia, civil society has been vocal in its orientation towards the EU, and strengthened support from the side of the EU is key to the country's longer-term direction.

A few other snippets from the results:

  • The three South Caucasus countries and Belarus all have a significantly more favourable business environment than Moldova and Ukraine.
  • Armenia leads in Sustainable Development, and had put in place a sustainable development policy co-ordination structure, although concerns persisted on deforestation, ineffective management of water resources, and weak pollution controls. 
  • Azerbaijan is placed fourth for Sectoral Co-operation and Trade Flows, ahead of Belarus and Armenia, a reflection of Azerbaijan's stronger trade ties with the EU since Azerbaijan is not a member of the Russia-led trading bloc, the Eurasian Economic Union. 
  • Belarus has the worst record among the EaP in Deep and Sustainable Democracy, including sixth place for independent media, and – along with Azerbaijan – for freedom of speech and assembly. Azerbaijan has the worst record in democratic rights and elections, including political  pluralism.
With the new methodology in place, together with the publisher, the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum, and the wealth of experts who work with us on the Index, we are planning the launch of the 2017 Index in September/October 2018. True, by then we will have had presidential elections in Armenia, Azerbaijan, and in October also Georgia, but key parliamentary elections in November in Moldova and parliamentary and presidential elections will follow in 2019 in Ukraine (of course, in either country, the elections might be brought forward).

Eastern Partnership Index 2015-2016. Charting Progress in European Integration, Democratic Reforms, and Sustainable Development 
Editor in Chief: Jeff Lovitt
Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum, December 2017, ISBN 978-2-930970-00-4

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Agenda for Media Reforms in the Eastern Partnership Countries

A New Diplomacy roundtable to address reform of public service and independent media

Time & Date: 11.30-14.00, Wednesday 5 July 2017 (coffee from 11.15, sandwich lunch included)
Venue: Conference Room, Gintama Hotel, 9 Trekhsvyatytelska Street, Kyiv, Ukraine, 01001
(five minutes' walk/400 metres from Independence Square –
Languages: English and Ukrainian (simultaneous interpretation provided)

Space is limited. Attendance by confirmation only. Please RSVP to:

AGENDA FOR MEDIA REFORMS: What priority steps can be taken, and by whom, to:
strengthen the sustainability of new and existing independent media outlets?
establish and ensure the editorial independence and high-quality, balanced news programming of public service broadcasters?
raise the quality of news reporting and editorial and production standards at national and regional levels?
counter disinformation through winning audience loyalty through combining quality programming with accurate, balanced, and inspiring news reporting

Participants: International media experts from Eastern Partnership countries and the EU, including:
Krzysztof Bobinski, President, Unia a Polska Foundation/co-Founder, New Diplomacy (moderator)
Тetyana Honcharova, TV and radio presenter, Era FM, Ukraine
Rita Ruduša, Executive Director, Baltic Centre for Media Excellence, Latvia
Zurab Alasania, Director General, Public Broadcasting Company of Ukraine
Hrihoriy Shverk, MP, Member of Verkhovna Rada Committee on Freedom of Speech and Information Policy, Ukraine
Heiko von Debschitz, Adviser, International Relations Department, ZDF Television, Germany
Oles Doniy, Chairman, Art Association “Last Barricade", TV presenter, Ukraine
Boris Navasardyan, President, Yerevan Press Club, Armenia
Daria Yurovskaya, Director of Programmes, Public Broadcasting Company of Ukraine
Oleksiy Mustafin, General Producer, News Department, Ukraine Channel
Ehtel Halliste, Communications Expert, Estonian Center of Eastern Partnership
Dmytro Khilchenko, Director, Digital Platforms, Public Broadcasting Company of Ukraine
Olena Solodovnikova, New Diplomacy Fellow, and Reporter, Road Control newspaper, and, Ukraine
Emin Milli, Director, Meydan TV, Germany/Azerbaijan
➢ Tatiana Kotyuzhynskaya, President, Ukrainian Association of Media Lawyers
➢ Natia Kuprashvili, Executive Director, Georgian Association of Regional Broadcasters
➢ Andriy Kulakov, Program Director, Internews Ukraine
➢ Tetyana Popova, Strategic Communications expert, NGO "Information Security", Ukraine
➢ Sergei Komlach, Senior Project Co-ordinator, Euroradio, Poland/Belarus
➢ Olha Vyazenko, Special Correspondent, TV channel 1+1, Ukraine
➢ Celia Davies, Strategy & Communications Manager, Meydan TV, Germany/Azerbaijan
➢ Taras Semenyuk, Founder,, Ukraine
➢ Kyryl Loukerenko, Editor-in-Chief, Hromadske Radio, Ukraine
➢ Oleksander Buzyuk, Hromadske Radio, Ukraine
➢ Jeff Lovitt, Founder and Chair, New Diplomacy

New Diplomacy aims to contribute to raising the standards of reporting and to increase sharing of knowledge and news reporting skills across Eastern Partnership countries, and through the New Diplomacy Eastern Partnership Journalism Fellowship has in 2016/2017 placed journalists from Georgia and Ukraine in EU countries for five weeks in a placement in leading international broadcast or print media in those countries, such as German media, ZDF public television and Spiegel Online. The programme is supported by the US National Endowment for Democracy (NED).

Wednesday, 17 May 2017

Is Civil Society Ready to Sit at the Table with Policymakers? – New Study on Six Eastern Partnership Countries

Closing the gap between laws and procedures and their practice and implementation has long been both a thorn in the side of civil society actors, and also a challenge and a source of inspiration for citizens to hold authorities to account for their policies and actions. Examples such as the Reanimation Package of Reforms (RPR) in Ukraine since 2014, or Electric Yerevan in Armenia in 2015, have seen civil society either taking the initiative in proposing policy reforms and drafting laws and amendments to existing legislation, or launching protests against the perceived unaccountability of government.

In all six Eastern Partnership countries (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Republic of Moldova, and Ukraine), as outlined in the study, Civil Participation in Political Decision-Making in the Eastern Partnership Countries – Part One: Laws and Policies, there are "shortcomings in the clarity, effectiveness, and inclusiveness of their policy-drafting and evaluation procedures".

In the follow-up publication announced online today, Civil Participation in Political Decision-Making in the Eastern Partnership Countries – Part Two: Practice and Implementation, analysts in the six countries examine the extent to which those laws and policies are indeed applied and implemented. (The editor of both books is Jeff Lovitt, Chair of New Diplomacy.)

In the latest book, the authors first assess to what extent the statutory procedures have been followed in the policy-making cycle in recent years, and then look at a set of case studies in each country to examine in detail how participatory policy-making is working in practice. For each country, two case studies examine participation in the law-making process, and another two case studies consider civil society initiatives in policy-making. Some of the latter category include engagement in law-making processes through civil society initiatives – sometimes working to unblock particular law-making processes – while others involve more systemic initiatives to reform policies, and others amount to civil society protest movements in response to controversial decisions or unaccountable practices by public authorities.

The study includes country recommendations, a set of measures for strategic development of civil participation in decision-making in the Eastern Partnership countries, and five lessons learned:

  • High-level engagement can reap results even when participatory policymaking is not the norm 
  • Civil society needs to act quickly to avert laws that curtail freedoms, and to enlist international support
  • Sustained coalitions and campaigns to change policies and legislation build up expertise and strengthen arguments for reform
  • Adequate timeframes for review should be available for all stakeholders
  • Clear regulation providing for public participation in decision-making empowers civil society to become valued partners in inclusive policy-making

The case studies are as follows:


  • Constitutional Amendments, 2013-2015
  • Law on Public Organisations, 2009-2016
  • Draft Law on Equality, 2014-2016
  • Electric Yerevan, 2015


  • Draft Law on the Right to Legislative Initiative of 40,000 Voting Citizens, 2012-2013
  • Law on Public Participation, 2011-2014
  • CSOs’ Participation in Formulation of the Open Government Partnership Initiative and its Action Plan for 2016-18
  • Civil Society Defence Committee, 2009-2017


  • Decree on Regulation of Entrepreneurial Activity, 2014
  • Draft Law on Treatment of Animals, 2015-2016
  • Revisions to Laws on Provision of Social Services 
  • Reform of Decision-Making on Environmental Impact, 2015-2016


  • Amendments to the Law Concerning Constitutional Court, 2016 
  • Changes to the Election Code, 2013
  • Local Government Reform, 2012-2015
  • Reform of the Prosecutor’s Office, 2014-2015


  • Amendments to Law on Tobacco and Tobacco Products, 2012-2015
  • Amendment of the Electoral Code, 2016
  • Amendment of the “2% Law” and Adoption of Implementing Regulation, 2015-2016
  • Advocacy for the Adoption of draft Law on Social Entrepreneurship, 2013-2016


  • Law on Civil Service, 2015
  • Amendments to the Tax Code, 2014-2015
  • Draft Law on Public Consultations
  • Civil Initiative Reanimation Package of Reforms

Civil Participation in Political Decision-Making in the Eastern Partnership Countries – Part Two: Practice and Implementation can be downloaded here.

The two studies are published within the Regional Project on Civil Participation in Decision Making in the Eastern Partnership Countries, carried out as part of the Partnership for Good Governance, funded by the European Union (EU) and the Council of Europe, and implemented by the Council of Europe in Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Republic of Moldova, Ukraine and Belarus.

Civil Participation in Political Decision-Making in the Eastern Partnership Countries – Part One: Laws and Policies can be downloaded here.

Sunday, 26 February 2017

Who Will Be the New Messengers of the Kremlin?

It can be hard to empathise with the messengers of the regime that annexed Crimea and threw Eastern Ukraine into a conflict that has cost thousands of lives, and displaced more than 1 million people – let alone those who defended the Kremlin's bombing of Aleppo.

But two new, thoughtful pieces of analysis – without justifying either the actions of Vladimir Putin's Russia or glibly saying "Don't Shoot the Messenger" – pose the important question. Who will follow Vitaly Churkin, Russia's Ambassador to the United Nations who passed away this week? Likewise, who will succeed Sergey Lavrov, Putin's Foreign Minister who since the annexation of Crimea has seemed to be less and less convinced of the words of justification he seems compelled to utter?

Samantha Power, who for the past four years was the Obama Administration's counterpart to Churkin at the UN, writing in the New York Times, makes a strong case for continuing close engagement with figures such as Churkin (although we don't yet know who will be his successor) – not least on the basis that he would often spend days trying to find a compromise on resolutions at the UN over Syria and other issues, only to have his hard work rejected by Moscow, compelling him to exercise the Russian veto in the Security Council.

Just on the eve of Churkin's death, Mark Galeotti, writing for bne IntelliNews, raised a similar question, but about the other top diplomat of Russia – Foreign Minister Lavrov. Lavrov "has essentially been excluded from the inner circle setting foreign policy and is instead relegated to the role of articulating and defending an increasingly untenable and incredible official line," writes Galeotti. Real authority "has passed to 'adhocrats', figures made presidential plenipotentiaries regardless of their official role," he writes. There have long been rumours that Lavrov wants to retire, writes Galeotti, but "the wider implications are worrying," he writes. "FSB security briefings appear to have more weight than ambassadorial cables. The result is an impoverishment of policy."

With the development in the first month of the Trump Administration that senior military staff were no longer core members of the US National Security Council, while Trump's Chief Strategist, ex-Breitbart News Chair, Steve Bannon, would be there, we were facing the prospect of "policy-setters" shaping the US security agenda without heeding the advice and reality check of military and security professionals. At least in the US, with the departure of Trump's initial appointee Michael Flynn, we now have in incoming US National Security Adviser Herbert McMaster a figure who is clearly not buying Bannon's populist agenda. In fact, the US foreign policy team (except the President himself) is beginning to look credible and professional – unlike his domestic policy team.

We now await Putin's choice for successor to Churkin, and in time, to Lavrov...

Monday, 16 January 2017

Refugees in Ukraine – Life Goes On

The war in Ukraine has driven thousands of people to flee their homes. Many have ended up in refugee camps and know they can never return to their old homes and lives. How can they manage with that stark reality, asks Yuliana Romanyshyn in this story, Life Goes On, written for Spiegel Online as part of her New Diplomacy Journalism Fellowship. Yuliana is a journalist with the Kyiv Post, who spent five weeks as part of her fellowship working with Spiegel Online in Hamburg, Germany.

There are more than 1.6 million internally displaced persons who have fled from war-torn Eastern Ukraine to other parts of Ukraine, alongside around 900,000 that fled to Russia, and smaller numbers to Belarus and EU countries. Seven refugee camps in Ukraine have been set up by GIZ (Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit) on behalf of Germany's Federal Ministry for Economic Co-operation and Development (BMZ).

Yuliana's report, published on 16 January 2017, includes interviews with refugees from Donbas at a GIZ-run camp in Kharkiv, and the report includes data visualisation tracking the movements of refugees, as well as photographs from the camps by her Kyiv Post colleague, Anastasia Vlasova.

Friday, 23 December 2016

Journalism Fellows Tackle Propaganda, US Election, and a Hostage-Rescue in Ukraine

In the first year of New Diplomacy's Eastern Partnership Journalism fellowship, five fellows – three journalists from Ukraine, two from Georgia – were selected.

Here is a selection of some of the stories from three of the fellows - hosted respectively by in Poland, and Spiegel Online and ZDF public television in Germany.

The stories include an interview with New Diplomacy co-founder Jan Piekło just a few months after taking up the position of Poland's Ambassador to Ukraine.

A selection of media stories by the fellows:

Olena SolodovnikovaRoad Control newspaper, Ukraine
Host organisation:, Poland
Thematic focus: Release of hostages in Eastern Ukraine and the propaganda war; comparative reform of coal industry in Poland/Ukraine.

During her fellowship, on 6 December 2016, published the following article by Olena: Ян Пекло: Лучшее оружие против пропаганды — правда (Jan Piekło - The Best Weapon Against Propaganda is the Truth). The piece is an interview with New Diplomacy co-founder, Jan Piekło, a former journalist who wrote for samizdat media under communist rule in Poland, and later covered the wars in the former Yugoslavia. Jan, now Poland's Ambassador to Ukraine, explains that the best way to fight propaganda is to report the truth about what is going on in Eastern Ukraine.

Olena wrote the following piece for, published on 22 November 2016: Украинские заложники. Изнанка спасательных операций (Ukrainian Hostages. The Rescue Operations from the Other Side of the Fence), in which she charts the challenges she faced in the harrowing experience of securing the release of her husband, a fellow journalist captured by separatists in Donetsk, Eastern Ukraine.

On 20 December, Olena wrote Услышать Силезию (Listening to Silesia) for, in which she examines the lessons of the reform of the coal sector in Poland for the restructuring of the energy sector in  Ukraine, as the government intends to close a significant number of unprofitable mines and shed thousands of jobs. And there are many parallels between Donetsk, host to Ukraine's coal fields, and Silesia, with its own strong regional identity in Poland.

Yuliana RomanyshynKyiv Post, Ukraine
Host organisation: Spiegel Online, Hamburg, Germany
Thematic focus: Refugee crisis in Germany alongside IDP experience in Ukraine, focus on data visualisation and media standards.

During her fellowship, Yuliana contributed to the following data-rich Spiegel Online analysis, published on 26 October 2016: Angezählt: Hillary Clinton führt klar vor Donald Trump, die US-Wahl scheint knapp zwei Wochen vor dem Stichtag entschieden. Wirklich? (Countdown: Hillary Clinton is Clearly Ahead of Donald Trump, the US Election Seems to Have Been Decided Just Two Weeks Before Election Day. Really?)

Yana BiliaievaMYMEDIA and Detector Media, Lviv, Ukraine
Host organisation: ZDF public television, Mainz, Germany
Thematic focus: Russia's influence in Germany, media reform for Ukraine.

The following are a selection of articles written by Yana for MYMEDIA during the time of her fellowship:

Свобода СМИ по-украински: взгляд Запада и Украины (Freedom of the Media in Ukrainian: The View from the West and Ukraine), published on 17 September 2016, about the conflicting views of Ukrainian and Western experts on freedom of speech and safety of journalists in Ukraine.

Дэвид Саттер: «Когда пропаганда стоит жизни людей, запрет российских каналов обсуждаем» (Author David Satter Talks about Kremlin Ban on Him), published on 5 October 2016 - an interview with David Satter, an American reporter for the Wall Street Journal, and expert on Russia and the USSR, about Russian propaganda and media influence in Ukraine and the US.

Как Украина борется с российской пропагандой (How Ukraine Struggles With Russian Propaganda), published on 19 October 2016, providing an overview of expert opinion on the methods used in Ukraine to fight Russian propaganda.

21 совет журналистам-расследователям от Пулитцеровского лауреата (21 Tips for Investigative Journalists from A Pulitzer Laureate), published on 30 September 2016, where David Crawford, who investigated the shooting down of the MH17 flight over Eastern Ukraine, provides advice to local journalists. Crawford has undertaken several big investigations on Russia.

Американская журналистка о Трампе в СМИ: «Это как наркомания. На каком-то этапе уже трудно остановиться» (American Journalist about Trump in the Media: "It's Like an Addiction. At A Certain Stage, It Becomes Difficult to Stop.”) - interview, published on 7 November 2016, with Betsy Fischer, an American journalist who produced interviews with top politicians on NBS for 23 years. Yana discussed with her the "Trump phenomenon", media standards, and Russian intrusion into the American information space and political system.

Sunday, 18 December 2016

Trolls, Fake News, Kremlin Propaganda - New Diplomacy Fellow to Speak At Eastbook event, Warsaw

Trolls, Fake News, and Other Tools of Kremlin Propaganda - Eastbook event at Duży Pokój, ul. Warecka 4/6 (wejście od ul. Kubusia Puchatka), Warsaw - with Olena Vorobyova, New Diplomacy journalism fellow, 18.00-20.00, Monday19 December

Panellists to include:
  • Witold Jurasz (Poland) 
  • Olena Vorobyova (Ukraine)
  • Aleś Zarembiuk (Belarus)
Krzysztof Nieczypor will moderate the event, which is taking place in association with New Diplomacy.