Most political parties in Ukraine are considered to be oligarchic and there are few democratic political forces which do not co-operate with the country’s oligarchs. That is the frank admission of Kateryna Odarchenko (pictured), the head of National Platform, a new political party in Ukraine. During a visit to Brussels, EU Reporter asked her about the new party in a Q&A session, including its aim of aligning itself with the EPP, writes Martin Banks.
Q: You are a successful entrepreneur, engaged in consulting. Why did you suddenly make a decision to change your life and start building a political party?
A: I was working in political consulting for a long time and that is why I know the nitty-gritty of Ukrainian politics well. There were periods of authoritarian rule and revolutions, which I took part in, in Ukrainian history. But currently the situation is in no way better. The new authorities’ unprofessionalism could be even more dangerous than ‘open form’ pressure on business or human rights violations. I could have gone to work abroad, but I decided to build political institutions in Ukraine and invest my resources and time in working on the party.
Q: Most of Ukrainian parties are called oligarchic. Do you co-operate with oligarchs too?
A: It’s rather difficult to register a political party in Ukraine without oligarchs’ financial support. Most Ukrainian parties are not registered in the way required by law. They usually buy ready-made documents and rebrand the party. Even the “servant of the people” governing party didn’t collect the signatures, but just has bought out the documents from another one.We’ve followed a perfectly legal path for the “National Platform” registration. We’ve collected 14,000 signatures from citizens and we did it as publicly as possible. We overcame all official obstacles and got the certificate of registration in August 2020.
Q: You spend a plenty of time in the US. For what purpose do you visit the States?
A: In the US we work with our partners. American organisations which work on the development of democracy and women rights protection share their experience with us. I’m talking not about grant programmes but ones which we have built independently with public organisations in the United StatesDuring the last visit to the US our delegation met with the offices of 12 congresses and senators. We discussed the priorities of co-operation with Ukraine, foreign policy assistance, the fight against corruption, the development of small and medium businesses in Ukraine and our vision for the implementation of these programmes.
Q: You also communicate with European politicians. What are your conversations about?
A: The topic of our conversations is always open. We aim to integrate and become a part of the European People’s Party, therefore we conduct constructive negotiations with them. We exchange our experience, make up reform roadmaps and women leadership development programmes and discuss the ideas of lobbying legalisation in Ukraine. Our communications are the product of months or even years of such efforts.
Q: Your party’s programme covers some 54 pages. Who wrote it?
A: We developed our programme according to the European model. It’s a road map for the development of each industry.The programme was developed by the party committees, which include highly qualified professionals in their fields. There also experts, ex-politicians and practitioner, which are not the part on the party, were invited to the discussion who helped us in writing the programme. That’s why the document turned out voluminous and meaningful.NB: Odarchenko is also the founder of the Institute for Democracy and Development PolitA and owner of the consulting company SIC Group Ukraine.
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