What do Ukrainians Think about Ukraine?
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72.3% of Ukrainians would like our homeland to be associated with a wealthy state; at the same time, they understand that corruption is the main obstacle on Ukraine’s path towards the EU (84.7%). Those are the findings of the On-line TRACK survey conducted by TNS within the “New European Policy. Filling the Awareness Gap” project initiated by the Institute of World Policy.
In June 2015, the Institute of World Policy (IWP) had presented the results of the survey on perception of Ukraine by citizens of six most populated countries of the EU: France, Great Britain, Germany, Italy, Spain, Poland. The main findings of the survey were as follows: Ukraine is primarily associated with war, Russia, and poverty; the main obstacles to Ukraine’s accession to the European Union are corruption and oligarchy. However, one third of the citizens of the aforesaid countries believe that protecting Ukraine from Russia’s aggression is a valid reason to provide Ukraine with membership in the EU in the future.
The IWP decided to find out whether the perception of Ukraine by its own citizens is different from perception of the EU residents as well as to understand whether we perceive the requirements for opening the door to the European Union before Ukraine in the same way. The results of these two “mirroring” surveys could allow us to identify the differences in understanding of European integration processes by Ukrainians and the EU citizens and thus to formulate a more realistic European agenda for Ukraine.
What are your main associations with Ukraine?
Ukraine is mostly associated with corrupted, inefficient authorities by its own citizens (24.6%), with the highest rate among the residents of central Ukraine. Therefore, several high-profile corruption processes, adoption of a number of anti-corruption laws and individual reforming efforts of the authorities have not convinced the society that the country had begun changing for real. Ukrainian citizens demand positive results, transparency and better reporting. On the other hand, this figure can be explained by lack of understanding of the processes of reforming the country, priorities for reforms, and the demand for popular and instant results.
The war is one of the top two associations with Ukraine among both Ukrainians and the EU citizens. However, while the war had been mentioned by almost half (46%) of the EU citizens, only one in five Ukrainians (20.5%) has chosen that association. It is quite clear that the association with war is predominant among the residents of Eastern Ukraine (24.4%).
The top three also includes one positive association, the homeland (16%). In general, in Ukrainian respondents’ answers, the positive associations are intertwined with the negative ones virtually evenly.
It should be noted that while the negative associations (such as poverty or instability) occur in both Ukrainians’ and the EU citizens’ answers, such positive associations as Ukrainian symbols, independence, love of freedom, goodness, and joy have been mentioned only by Ukrainian respondents. It is also noteworthy that the ratio of such association as independence/love of freedom in Kyiv (14.1%) doubles the overall result (7.7%). In general, the survey has shown that despite the realistic or negative assessment of present situation in the country (corruption and war) many Ukrainians have positive views on their homeland.
As for the Ukrainians’ European aspirations, the perception of Ukraine as a country that has a great potential or a European country has hit the top ten (7.3%), with the highest rate among the residents of the Southern regions (13.7%) and the lowest rate in central ones (2.9%). Every fifth Ukrainian respondent (20.5%) could not name any association with Ukraine (with the highest rate in the Northern regions, 28.6%).
In your opinion, what are the main associations with Ukraine in the EU?
The top two Ukrainians’ associations with their homeland almost coincide with their ideas about the EU citizens’ associations with Ukraine: corrupted, inefficient authorities (21.2%), and the war (21.1%). The highest percentage of those who believe that Ukraine is associated with corruption in the EU is observed among the residents of Central Ukraine (they make up a third of all respondents). Quite many Ukrainians believe that the Europeans perceive relations with Ukraine from a purely economic perspective. For instance, answering the question on what do the EU citizens associate Ukraine with, 12.8% have named cheap land, work force and raw materials, 9.5% have chosen debts and credits, 7.3% have picked market, and 7% have selected fertile land.
If we compare these data with the results of the IWP’s survey in the EU, it appears that these ideas have a valid basis, though only partially: Ukrainians are associated with maids solely in Italy (with a rate of 10%). 11.8% of Ukrainians have expressed a valid assumption that in sights of the EU member states’ residents our country is associated with poverty. According to the IWP’s previous survey, 9% of the European Union citizens actually associate Ukraine with poverty (that association is one of the top three), and 22% view it as a reason to deny Ukraine’s membership prospects. A merely insignificant percentage of Ukrainian citizens (3.4%) believe that our country is associated in the EU with the Maidan (which correlates with results of the survey in the European Union, 2%).
The survey in Ukraine shows, that nearly 7% of Ukrainians are aware that to a great extent, Ukraine still remains in Russia’s shadow. For instance, 6.8% of our fellow citizens believe that the EU residents view Ukraine primarily as a buffer zone and Russia’s neighbour.
In general more than a third (35.3%) of Ukrainian had no idea about possible associations with Ukraine in the EU (with highest percentage in the Northern and Eastern Ukraine, over 38%).
What would you like the EU citizens to associate Ukraine with?
Ukrainians show an impressive unanimity in determining the desired image of Ukraine. When asked the aforesaid question, 72.3% (the vast majority) have chosen “a wealthy state” option. Although this figure is quite high in all regions, it reaches its peak in Central Ukraine. In addition, this option has been quite frequently mentioned by the aged respondents.
The European values (42.6%) are the second top desirable association. From a geographical perspective, this association is the least preferable among the residents of Southern and Eastern Ukraine (less than 40%). One third of respondents (29.8%) have expressed a wish that “Ukraine is Europe”, which is one of the Maidan’s most prominent slogans, would become a consistent association with their homeland among the EU citizens. 37.4% of Ukrainians would like to see their homeland associated with tourism, which indicates their willingness to open their country to the world and their awareness of Ukraine’s great tourist potential. Interestingly, tourism has been mostly mentioned by the younger respondents. Despite the fact that most Ukrainians do not associate Ukraine with the Euromaidan, a significant percent (22%) of them would like to see Ukraine associated with the Revolution of Dignity by the EU citizens. The Maidan as a desired association with Ukraine has been mostly named by the residents of the Western regions. Approximately the same fraction shares a strategic view on the future of Ukraine and would like to see their homeland as a regional leader (21.5%).
Despite the fact that the European Union citizens named Russia as one of the key associations with Ukraine, Ukrainians themselves haven’t chosen that option when answering the question on the desirable associations with their motherland.
In your opinion, what are the main obstacles on Ukraine’s path towards the EU?
Just as the EU citizens, Ukrainians view corruption (84.7%), oligarchs (72.5%) and insufficient economic development (56.9%) as the main obstacles on Ukraine’s path to the European Union. On top of that, Ukrainians are considerably more critical towards themselves, compared to the citizens of the European Union: those reasons have been mentioned by almost twice as much Ukrainian respondents. The first two reasons have the highest rate among the residents of central regions. Surely, we could not expect the results of the survey in the EU member states to be completely consistent with the answers of Ukrainian respondents. After all, our fellow citizens view Ukraine primarily as their homeland, while the image of Ukraine from the perspective of the European Union’s citizens depends on us. The majority of Ukrainian respondents were synchronous with their European counterparts in defining the problems in Ukrainian context. Both sides agree that without tackling corruption, oligarchy and poverty the membership prospects are very remote. There is also an understanding that our country in its present state would be perceived by the EU members as an economic burden. We hope that a realistic awareness of the obstacles on Ukraine’s path towards the European future would become another momentum into acceleration of the implementation of the European agenda.
This survey has been conducted online on the basis of the TNS On-line TRACK project from July 14 to 21, 2015 among urban population across the whole territory of Ukraine, except the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the territories currently affected by the Anti-terrorist Operation. The survey engaged 1 000 respondents aged 18 to 55. The first two questions were open ones, while the other two were semi-open. The Institute of World Policy would like to express gratitude to the TNS Company for conducting this survey in Ukraine within the “New European Policy. Filling the Awareness Gap” project realized with support of the Ukraine National Initiatives to Enhance Reforms (UNITER) project, funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and administered by Pact Inc.
• Ukraine is mostly associated with corrupted, inefficient authorities by its own citizens (24.6%),
• Respondents from central Ukraine chose association of Ukraine with corruption most frequently (34%), while their counterparts from the Eastern regions displayed the highest rate of association of their homeland with war (24.4%).
• The vast majority of Ukrainians (72.3%) would like Ukraine to be perceived as a wealthy state.
• Almost half of Ukrainians would like their homeland to be associated with the European values.
• Both citizens of the EU and Ukrainians are unanimous on the fact that corruption and oligarchy are the main obstacles on Ukraine’s path towards the European Union.
This report was conducted by the Institute of World Policy as part of its project implemented under Ukraine National Initiatives to Enhance Reforms (UNITER) program, which is funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and implemented by Pact Inc. This information product is made possible by the generous support of the American people through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The Institute of World Policy would like to express gratitude to the TNS Company for conducting the poll.
The contents are those of the Institute of World Policy and do not necessarily reflect the views of USAID, Pact Inc. or the United States Government. No part of this research may be reproduced or transferred in any form or by any means, graphic, electronic, or including photocopying or by any information storage retrieval system, without the proper reference to the original source.