From E-Estonia to E-Ukraine
"A computer does not take bribes, does not get tired, saves people’s nerves and time, makes daily tasks simple, understandable, fast, and generates trust," is Victor Guzun’s principal message. The former Ambassador of Moldova to Estonia now lectures at Tallinn University of Technology and works in international relations, with an emphasis on e-democracy.
Miriam Kosmehl, opening the event for the Foundation, highlighted how Estonia, regaining its independence after the collapse of the Soviet Union with less than half of the population having a telephone line in 1991, has become a world leader in technology that not only Ukraine but countries like Germany can learn from.
Ambassador of Estonia Gert Antsu pointed out that in his home country nearly all administrative services can be obtained online. The exceptions are: marriage, divorce and real estate purchase.
Guzun underlined that Estonians are amongst the world's most effective tax collectors and the top-ranked countries in the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business survey. Tarmo Villems, owner of the Estonian company "Energreen", clearly demonstrated this giving some insights into his daily practice.
Meetings of the Estonian government take no more than thirty minutes, all decisions and debates may be accessed online. Nationwide, the country offers high-speed internet coverage. Internet access is seen as a fundamental social right equal to the traditional social rights of every citizen. Estonia is moreover a global leader for cyber security and Tallinn turned into the home of EU and other international IT hubs.
Guzun demonstrated his ID card’s usefulness in practice, which is at the same time a driver's license and a passport, provides insurance, allows him to use public transport for free or place his child in an online queuing system for kindergarten. He explained that for many Estonians there is no such thing as an old-fashioned "workplace" anymore, because their office is where there is a computer with internet access.
Sergey Loboyko, Head of Kyiv Mohyla University’s Center for Innovation and Development and expert with the Reanimation Package of Reforms, the Ukraine-Swiss program EGAP and the East Europe Foundation, commented that the post-soviet bureaucracy, numerous old government resolutions and decisions, the lack of serious investment in an e-governance system and fragmented registries and databases hamper the development of e-democracy in Ukraine.
But Loboyko also highlighted some of Ukraine’s unique achievements. The IT sphere for e-governance is developing dynamically, as reflected in international rankings. Specifically, Ukraine has made a big leap in ratings over the past two years: among the 193 UN members on the e-democracy index, Ukraine now holds the 32nd place (+42 steps up), on e-governance Ukraine holds the 62nd place (+25 steps up) and in the Global Open Data Index Ukraine takes the 24th place among 94 countries.
"Every one of you can change something for the better in your country," Viktor Guzun assured the participants. He said that Estonia used to be in a worse position than Ukraine is in now, but worked hard to achieve top positions globally. Guzun also underlined that Ukraine is a strategic partner for Estonia, which is why, according to him, Estonians are so keen to see Ukrainians moving forward. "Opportunities are available if you really want to," Guzun inspired the Kyiv audience.
The event took place within the framework of the joint project of Friedrich-Naumann-Foundation for Freedom and “CeHrin” – Building a Network for Free Local Politicians.