Policy Briefs

Keeping Pace: Ukraine’s Foreign Service Reforms

By Maryna Vorotnyuk

Amidst the war in its eastern regions with Russia-backed militants, Ukraine is struggling to maintain the functionality of the state. The ongoing reform of its diplomatic service is intended to make its foreign policy more efficient and fit for the purpose of keeping Ukraine on the international agenda and securing the cohesion of the West against revisionist Russia, an issue commonly linked to the survival of the state. This reform is not an easy endeavor, though, the problem of the public sector’s unhealthy performance is a truism casually referred to in the country. With the adoption of the long-awaited law on diplomatic service in June 2018, the situation in the diplomatic realm in Ukraine might be changing for the better.

The tasks Ukrainian diplomacy faces at the moment are manifold: it has to not only uphold the country’s interests against Russia’s direct military aggression and malevolent influence, but also cope with creeping “Ukraine fatigue” abroad that elements of the international audience have visibly surrendered to. The domestic dimension matters, too. In a country where Maidan—a popular revolt against a corrupt government set off by the latter’s U-turn in canceling the signing of an Association Treaty with the EU—introduced the notion of a total reset of power, reformists walk on untested grounds of reforms, trying to overcome the resistance of the old system that is eager to fight back.

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Dr. Maryna Vorotnyuk is an expert on security developments in the Black Sea region, Ukrainian and Turkish foreign policies, and the South Caucasus. She is a researcher at the Center for European Neighborhood Studies of Central European University (Budapest). Dr. Vorotnyuk worked as a visiting lecturer at the Department of Political Sciences of Comenius University in Bratislava, Slovakia (2015-2017). She is a Board Member of the Foreign Policy Council “Ukrainian Prism”. From 2006 until 2015 she was affiliated with the leading Ukrainian think tank – the National Institute for Strategic Studies. In 2006-2013 she was also a research fellow of the Center for International Studies of I. I. Mechnikov Odessa National University (2006-2013). Dr. Vorotnyuk has taken part in many programmes, namely the EU Eastern Partnership Civil Society Fellowship (2016), High-Level Experts Programme of the German Foreign Office (2015), National Security Policymaking Institute of the US State Department (2013), Black Sea Young Reformers Fellowship of the Black Sea Trust of the GMF and Robert Bosch Stiftung (2012), Peace Research Course of Oslo University (2007) etc. She is the author of numerous publications in her field.