Programs in Eurasia

Across Europe and Eurasia, sharp distinctions have emerged between countries striving to make progress on democratic and economic reform, and those marked by anti-democratic tendencies. In countries with closing democratic space, CIPE works with its partners to use economic and business issues as a wedge to encourage dialogue and debate where other organizations lack the ability to operate. In countries that are seeking to strengthen democracy, CIPE is supporting efforts to overcome challenges to enacting and implementing comprehensive reforms at the national, regional, and local levels.

Around the region, CIPE works in a variety of ways with partners in the private sector, civil society, and government to ensure citizens are informed, to articulate reform priorities, to advocate for meaningful change, to pass and implement new laws; and to monitor implementation of reforms.

Ukraine: Strengthening Private Sector Engagement in Democratic Reform

The 2013-2014 EuroMaidan protests marked a crucial shift in Ukraine, as citizens mobilized against the corruption and cronyism that long stifled the country’s development. Citizens’ desire to live in a prosperous and democratic society were echoed by the private sector’s demands for change, including closer integration with the West. Subsequent presidential and parliamentary elections brought to power a government with an ambitious pro-reform agenda, promising to overhaul Ukraine’s economic, social, and political environment.

As the government designs and implements necessary changes, independent voices must have channels to contribute to the dialogue on reform, and hold the government accountable for its pledges. In particular, CIPE recognized that greater efforts were needed to ensure representation of the interests of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). Though SMEs represent over 75 percent of Ukraine’s total employment, and are crucial for building a thriving middle class who will be stakeholders in a democratic Ukraine, SMEs often have not had a seat at the table in the economic policy debate. Therefore, CIPE works closely with the business associations and chambers of commerce that represent SMEs, giving them the skills and tools to develop, propose, and advocate for key legal and regulatory reforms. CIPE is also providing technical assistance to Ukraine’s government to design and implement effective anti-corruption legislation that will create a more SME-friendly business environment.

Moldova: Enhancing Regional Policy Debate

After a breakthrough election in 2009 brought a pro-reform government to power, Moldova embarked on a series of changes to align the country more closely with Europe, eventually signing an Association Agreement with the European Union. However, the reform process has repeatedly been stalled by a range of entrenched interests. Though parliamentary elections in 2014 gave a narrow win to parties with a declared pro-reform agenda, a massive banking scandal in 2015 demonstrated that civil society and the independent business community must remain vigilant in holding the government to its reform pledges.

Understanding the importance of ensuring that countries on Europe’s periphery consolidate as market democracies, CIPE is working closely with its Moldovan partners to improve governance, transparency, and the rule of law. To reinvigorate the reform agenda from the bottom-up, CIPE supports the National Business Agenda Network, a network of 35 business associations representing small and medium-sized enterprises, together with the country’s leading think tank, the Institute for Development and Social Initiatives. This coalition is advocating robust reforms, and calling for accountable and responsive government at the national and local levels.

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