10 steps to change the state
Europeanization is considered as a determinate process which is able to implement qualified changes to the political system and social life. The process includes two aspects: institutional Europeanization and socialization.
Institutional Europeanization, focused first of all on the state authorities and their institutions, has to be implemented on the basis of normative approach via the aquis communitaire of the European Union, the complex of common rights and obligations mandatory for execution by the states, willing to become the members of the EU.
Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine have already begun to implement the EU legislation in different spheres taking into account commitments assumed in order to implement the conditions on visa liberalization, the introduction of a free trade zone and association process in general. It is important to use the instruments offered by the European Union in order to strengthen the institutional capacity and implement principles of institutions activity in accordance with the European standards.
At the same time socialization is one of the most important instruments that explains the meaning and the content of reforms leading to the Europeanization and to the change of the behavioral pattern. Socialization is considered to be a process contributing to the identity and behavior changes via interaction with the partner on each level (for example, with the state, business, civil society), leading to the social studying and working on the behavioral patterns to follow.
In order to eradicate post-sovietism the effective demythologization of the soviet behavior patterns, phenomena and symbols should be made. Sacralisation of the «soviet» is a remarkable trend. As the result, in Ukraine more than 50 % of the streets have soviet genealogy. Still, there are monuments to soviet heroes in almost every settlement.
The most popular of which is a monument to Vladimir Lenin.
How long the Ukrainian society will stay in the stage of post-sovietism preserving relevant attributes: paternalism, interpersonal distrust or intolerance depends from the desacralization of everything soviet.
Demythologization can either be done as a total ban, as in Moldova and Georgia or exposing the “soviet” cult during broad discussions (including but not limited to the participation of mass media) which would provide the citizens with a documentary base needed to evaluate the soviet past. The need for demythologization of the soviet heritage in the cultural sphere can be achieved by gradually reducing cinema production, which exalts soviet discursive practices.
An important emphasis on the path of transformation is the willingness of citizen to self-organization and to demonstrate civil engagement on the local level. A considerable challenge of post-sovietism is paternalism – the belief in omnipotence of the state; certainty that the state has to resolve their problems. As the consequence such social passivity has let the authorities play on the paternalistic tastes of voters (politicians can easily buy people using their promises). Such indifference provokes stagnation, absence of reforms or their faible implementation. This passivity leads to the reduction of the degree of policy accountability from the local to the central level. The more citizens defend their own interests – the more responsible politicians will be.
The more active citizens will be – the stronger democratic traditions in society will become.
Mass media has the capabilities and instruments to uncover the main post-soviet elements: nepotism, cronyism and intolerance. In countries, which have went down the path of fighting corruption; intolerance and other manifestations of dishonesty in political or social behavior mass media played the key role.
Mass media plays the role of muckrakers, this term was used to describe a group of American journalists in the beginning of the XX century who had actively investigated corruption scandals uncovering facts of nepotism and power abuse by the authority representatives in the USA. Moreover, precisely these muckrakers had founded the modern social watchdog journalism, where the journalist plays the role of the critic of the authorities. In this case the journalist is a “watchdog” of society.
E-government is an effective mechanism that solves a set of problems existing in the post-soviet states.
Using the Word Web Network in order to provide citizens with the information and services of the state sector (exactly this definition of e-government is given by UN), will allow to reduce the numerous bureaucratic machine inherited from the soviet system and at the same moment improve the quality, efficiency and speed of citizen services by the state authorities.
With the help of e-government citizens can easily receive or submit to the state institutions necessary documents without wasting time for standing in queues and running from office to office. Another important advantage of internet-communication is the possibility to avoid personal contact with officials most of whom use their position to establish their individual unofficial rates for the services of the state sectors.
Also, it should be noted that transferring the government sector into the virtual space reinforces its transparency, as this concept provides continuous interactive communication between citizens (consumers of public services) and the government. The latter constantly reports to the visitors of government web resources about their successes and failures, responds to public appeals et cetera.
The significant advantage of e-government for the post-soviet countries is effectively preventing the manipulation of facts and statistics by the state authorities, which is often abused by officials in Ukraine. To make e-government more effective the audience of Internet users should be extended. For example, the European experience of Wi-Fi cities creation can be interesting for the post-soviet states. For example, the experience of the free wireless Internet. This idea may be particularly important for cities where student and youth communities exist. The younger generation is more open to innovations, so electronic access to government agencies can have the great demand among young users.
With the collapse of the USSR such social communications were broken and the crisis of the 90’s has led to the alienation of the population even within the frame of separate national states. The soviet man has lost his “magnificent and powerful” motherland with its vast expanses. The post-soviet man still hasn’t understood his motherland having limited himself with the narrow boundaries of his own local world. Social mobility is limited by flows of migrants from different villages and towns to large cities, particularly during the last years Kiev is constantly growing up. In order to “unload” the overpopulated according to the Georgian standards Tbilisi, president Saakashvili initiated the transfer of the parliament to Kutaisi. At the same time, the level of interregional contacts in the post-soviet states is rather low. The absence of their own experience in communicating with compatriots from other regions opens up space for informational manipulation and stereotype implantation, which is freely used by many political powers.
To find an understanding between people who are captured by stereotypes is an extremely difficult task with social alienation and interpersonal distrust usually getting in the way of national development and society consolidation. These post-soviet phenomena can be overcome only through the interpersonal contacts stimulation. Frequent travel outside of their village (city, region) can considerably change the perception of their country. Particular attention should be made to the most mobile part of the population; moreover their consciousness isn’t under the influence of information cliché. First of all, these are about pupils and students. Programs involving inter-university exchanges, internships, study tours, summer schools, thematic tourist travels – these simple but effective steps will allow to overcome suspicion and post-soviet bias to the compatriots.
Concerning the Ukrainian society consolidation and overcoming social alienation we should count on the civil society and interpersonal communications more than on the state policy.
Professionalism and skills but not beneficial relationships must become measures of adequacy for obtaining a state post. This familiar to the European democratic practice principle is quite difficult to assimilate into the post-soviet realities. Nepotism prevalent in the government is almost impossible to eradicate and typical for the post-soviet countries cronyism, based on the informal friendly relationships opposed to familiar relationships is even impossible to prove through formal and legal evidence.
However, while eradicating whole dynasties of public officials, including the executive branch, we should maintain a balance between punishment for official post abuse and evaluation of real professional qualities of any person who could obtain the state post because of family or other relationship. Therefore, the only effective mechanism in this context is an open and transparent competition for post in the state and local authorities.
In the post-soviet countries the principles by which officials are hired exist only on the formal level. Nepotism is prospering in the post-soviet countries because government officials are perceived as a privileged caste, which is difficult to get into.
At the same time in European countries officials are only employees of state institutions who are called to work in the interests of its citizens in order to satisfy their needs.
Openness and transparency of the state service are clear principles on which officials are chosen, fair competitions for the state post with the assistance of independent experts – these are the steps that will contribute to the further transformation of the post-soviet bureaucratic systems in accordance with European standards and practices.
Bribery is one of the main challenges on the path of transformation of the post-soviet countries.
Success in fighting corruption was already shown by Georgia. Georgia’s experience is especially important because it is an example that destroyed a popular myth concerning the impossibility of eradicating corruption on the post –soviet territory and the fact that corruption has become a part of the regional culture and national mentality.
The World Bank has identified 10 factors that let Georgia finish with corruption these factors can be useful for Ukraine.
- Strong political will.
- Creation of a trustful atmosphere.
- Radical campaigns concerning eradication of corruption.
- Engaging new personnel.
- Limitation of the role of the state.
- Adoption of non-traditional methods.
- Direct coordination, unity on goals.
- Adaptation of the international experience to the local particularities
- Use of technology
- Strategic use of communication.
To fight against corruption on the post-soviet territory de-bureaucratization should be implied at a large scale – reduce the quantity of officials and simplify the procedure of obtaining any documents in the state authority bodies. But it should be taken into consideration that reducing the quantity of officials should be accompanied by a set of measures. Particularly, private initiative and development of small and medium enterprise should be favored.
For the post -soviet man it is hard to believe in his strength and to begin his own business. If the bureaucratic machine contributes to the development of the private initiative instead of killing it, if all of the relevant procedures are maximally transparent and open – the state service will gradually lose its attraction to citizens.
Those officials who will be forced to stop doing business in the government positions – will look for some other profitable field of activity. Elimination of bureaucracy in the post-soviet states is the main task in the fight against corruption and state services commerce.
Eradication of the post-soviet elements is not possible without changes in the field of science and education. Recommendations in this field can be reduced to 3 main points: decentralization of higher education, strict punishment of all forms of the plagiarism at the university level and involving to the state authority bodies officials who have a Western education and knowledge of foreign languages ( especially English).
Decentralization of the higher education system and providing broader autonomy to the universities will allow the university to increase the level of self-organization, which is the antipode feature for the one of the main characteristics of sovietism – paternalism.
Moreover, academic, organizational and financial independence of universities from the Ministry of Education will contribute to the efficient implementation of the Bologna education system.
Participation in the Bologna process in its turn, will allow universities to enter the area of the European Higher Education Area (EHEA), which has a unified system of degrees and academic qualifications, a high level of mobility and exchanges between educational institutions that will accelerate the process of Europeanization and socialization. It should be underlined that one of the cornerstones of participation in the Bologna education system is the introduction of penalties for plagiarism in universities. In addition, among the most effective methods in the fight against post-sovietism is increasing the qualification of officials on the basis of foreign education. In this context, public employees and parliamentarians involved in the process of European integration of their countries should pass the appropriate English language test using the internationally recognized systems of examination (IELTS, TOEFL, etc.).