The European Union didn’t pay enough political attention towards Central Europe following the 2004 enlargement wave and now has to deal with the fallout in the form of growing Russian gravitas in the region, Jan Švejnar, a professor at Columbia University's School of International & Public Affairs told Hromadske International’s Maxim Eristavi. “These countries were not quite ready and are still not ready to respond to [Russian propaganda and PR] and inform its population clearly and transparently about what’s going on,” Švejnar pointed out.
Jan Švejnar is a prominent American economist and former adviser to Vaclav Havel. A Czech-born scholar, he also ran and narrowly lost in the 2008 Czech Republic presidential elections. In 2015 Švejnar was awarded with a prize by the Bonn-based Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) for his major contributions to labor, development and comparative economics in general and the economics of transition from centrally planned to market economies in particular.
Comparing the recent anti-communist law, passed by the Ukrainian parliament and similar legislation in Central Europe, Švejnar warned that this process must go hand-in-hand with completely honest and transparent discussion inside the society about all aspects of the country’s history. “So everybody could say: look, we don’t forget but we forgive enough, so the whole society can move forward,” he suggested while stressing the utmost importance of working on the implementation as hard as on writing the legislation itself.
Jan Švejnar also thinks that Ukraine can easily double its living standards in the next decade if the government makes reforms the top priority.
Maxim Eristavi spoke to Jan Švejnar in Kyiv, on April 26th, 2015.