Meeting in Kiev, the capital of the Ukraine, on 9-10 September, the Socialist International Committee on the Economy, Social Cohesion and the Environment examined the processes of transition underway in countries such as the Ukraine and Russia and similar economies, evaluating current policies, trends and approaches, with the goal to further the development of common social democratic priorities and policy proposals.
Participants included delegates from the two SI parties in Ukraine, the Socialist Party, SPU, and the Social Democratic Party, SDPU, the Secretary General of the Socialist International Luis Ayala, the Committee Chair Christoph Zöpel (SPD, Germany), the Committee Vice-Chair Bernard Soulage (PS, France), representatives of member parties of the International, experts, parliamentarians and other especially invited guests.
The Committee’s discussions, held in the Ukrainian parliament, were preceded by an exchange of views between the Socialist International representatives and Oleksandr Moroz, leader of the SPU and Speaker of the Parliament, on the latest political developments in the country as Ukraine prepares to elect a new parliament next 30th September. Delegates stressed the importance of the holding of free and fair elections, for the Ukrainian people to continue moving forward their democratic aspirations, so evident in their 2004 mobilisation for democracy.
The economic situation of Ukraine was addressed with contributions by Vitaliy Shybko, International Secretary of SPU and Chair of the Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee; Yury Buzdugan, leader of SDPU; Oksana Kuziakiv, Chief Executive of the Institute for Economic Research and Policy Consulting, Ukraine, and Igor Burakovsky, the Institute's Director. During the debate, positive trends of the Ukrainian economy were highlighted — amongst them an annual GDP growth of more than 7% and the accession expected for next year to the World Trade Organisation. However the need for further economic and social reforms was underlined, action on pensions and salaries in particular, and the need for modernisation of the heavy industry and of enhancing competitiveness. Also stressed were the need for good governance and greater efforts to combat corruption and to strengthen the rule of law to sustain growth, attract foreign investments and improve the business climate in general, and that reforms on education and the health sector were essential together with a fairer distribution of the country’s resources to achieve sustainable development and a better quality of life for its people.
Sergei Glaziev, Deputy of the State Duma of the Russian Federation and a member of the Academy of Sciences of that country, presented an overview of the economic situation in Russia and discussed in detail the role the Russian economy played in the region and how it could strengthen economic cooperation and promote economic growth.
The discussions underlined the importance of strengthening democratic institutions in the whole region and the positive effect of competitive politics on market economics, as well as the fundamental importance of the rule of law. As well as the need to ensure that natural resources should be used to finance development and social investment, including health, education and housing.
All the conclusions of the meeting will be reflected in the Committee’s report to the Congress. The next meeting of the Committee will examine the economic outlook for Latin America and the Caribbean.