“I feel happy when I see the Parliament adopting the good laws, including those due to my work, and especially when it is done quickly.”
Iryna Vereshchuk, a member of the Ukrainian Parliament. Representative of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine in the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine.
Ms. Iryna, let me welcome you to the office of the Representative of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine in the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine. What are your main responsibilities? Is it difficult to work in the Parliament since it is your first cadence?
Thank you sincerely for your greetings! I am responsible for effective communication between the Government and Parliament as Representative of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine in the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine. It is important for me that government officials and Parliament members hear each other. Even they are debating among each ather, people of Ukraine must win in the end. Indeed, this is my first cadence. But I knew what I was going for. The politician’s path is my conscious choice. Above all, I enjoy this work.
Has a cooperation algorithm between Kiev and EU and NATO changed If that’s case how much?
I do not believe that the algorithm of cooperation with the EU and NATO will be changed significantly. The new government will follow the Euro-Atlantic course strictly. This is confirmed by the program of the new Government. With regard to the EU, we shall strongly pursue European integration reforms and legislative alignment.
With regard to cooperation with NATO in the field of security, we will continue to enhance interoperability with NATO standards. Also, I would like to emphasize the significance of political cooperation with NATO. We need to find a way and means to remove the socalled “Hungarian blockade”, to resume full cooperation in the NATO Parliamentary Assembly and the NATO-Ukraine Commission within the implementation of the Annual National Programs.
Naturally, many challenges and a lot of work are expecting us on the path to the EU and NATO. But there is no other way. We have to cope.
Can we talk about a pragmatic approach to the work with Brussels?
The fact is that there is no alternative to a pragmatic approach in real politics. A pragmatic path to NATO and the EU may be harder and longer than we would like to. But we will be going round in circles, if we are guided by illussions. Instead, we have every day, step by step, move in the western direction, to the EU and NATO, not as fast as we would like to, but steadily.
To what extent is the media fuss around the so-called Steinmeier Formula justified?
I fully understand the splash related to the Steinmeier formula. A part of our country perceives this formula as a symbol of capitulation. It is certainly an exaggeration to equate the Steinmeier formula with capitulation.
But I also see some flaws in this formula. Without going into details, I will say that I am critical of the Steinmeier formula. It seems to me that public interest to it is a little hypertrophied. But the good thing is that there is public discussion and debate, formation of the people’s position, which should serve afterwards as basis for decisions and actions of the authorities, through this media uproar.
What new European integration projects are under development at the Profile Committee of the Verkhovna Rada?
I am a member of the Committee for National Security, Defence and Intelligence and am not a member of the Profile Committee for European Integration. But to my knowledge, to the present, the new Parliament has already passed 15 European integration laws. There is also a bill in the Profile Committee that defines the principles of state policy on European integration. In addition, it is worth noting that the Government plans to open European integration offices in the regions of Ukraine, with a primary focus on the eastern and southern regions. These regional European integration offices will be involved in economic, cultural and educational projects. Regarding the parliamentary initiatives, an inter-factional parliamentary association ‘For Accelerated European Integration of Ukrainian Business’ has been created in the Parliament.
How would you describe the principal focus of our foreign policy at the modern stage?
It’s black and white. Two components: strategic partnership with the U.S. and a Euro-Atlantic course for NATO and the EU.
Is the Norman format effective for Ukraine?
There may be different views on effectiveness of the Norman format. Unfortunately, there are no alternatives to this format today. The Norman platform has been around for over five years, but it hasn’t actually been applied for three years. I think we should still try to get started in the Norman format. I cannot predict in advance what a meeting in the Norman format brings to us. But uncertainty on the real outcome is not a reason stop trying because we are talking about people’s lives and the fate of the country.
At the same time, the Norman format does not have to be the only way. We will use other formats and platforms as well, if any appears.
We have a goal to return our territories and restore peace.
Is the West tired of Ukrainian problems?
This is not a question whether anyone is tired of Ukrainian problems. It happened that Ukraine turned to be at the epicentre of geopolitical events. In this respect, the West and Ukraine are in the same boat, so to speak. If the West sees the political willpower to solve problems within our country, respond to challenges in an adequate manner, it will stand with us and help us. That is, ultimately, it is a matter of ourselves, our ability to head for the result gradually, step by step, but consistently.
What should be done and what instruments should be implemented for the West to consider Ukraine a large, powerful and prosperous state?
To work. To work a lot. Everything will be fine, if everyone works hard in their place. I adhere to the maxim of ‘Ora et Labora’, meaning pray and work.
Could you share your achievements, both yours and the Servant of the People Party, which you can declare today?
Frankly speaking, I would not talk about achievements yet. The Servant of the People Faction has demonstrated that it can act and can do it quickly for two months. This is the main thing. Many cases have been initiated. I am referring to lifting the immunity, anticorruption efforts, business deregulation, and social welfare. But a lot has not been completed yet.
It is obvious that not everybody likes a turbo mode. But we have already shown that we are different from our predecessors. We have shown to the people of Ukraine and to our fellow Members of Parliament that many important and good laws can be adopted quickly if there is political willpower. I believe that this is our key achievement. We can pass a law when the country needs it, instead of walking around and talking endlessly.
One of the areas of my political activity is public explanation of the position and actions of our parliamentary faction, the Servant of the People. I will consider it one of my achievements, if our people understand what we are doing and why, through my work.
What are your short-term plans?
Plans are very down to earth. Working days. Legislative work in the Council and the Committee for National Security, Defence and Intelligence.
In addition, daily work on communication between the Parliament and the Government. I feel happy when I see the Parliament adopting the good laws, including those due to my work, and especially when it is done quickly.