Part 2 of our interview with Ihor Kononenko. You can read Part I here.
Ihor, how would you sum up the results of the presidency of Petro Poroshenko? You have already mentioned successful decentralization. What else?
It was decentralization that became the basic reform. And in Ukraine it is progressing faster than in Poland, which has followed the same path of reforms. In Poland decentralization lasted over 10 years. Ukraine, however, has shown excellent results in only 4 years, and if we do not slow down, then the next local elections in 2020 will be held on a new territorial basis. And we will be able to fully complete decentralization in 6–7 years, that is, faster than in Poland.
The reforming of rural medicine, thanks to which new outpatient clinics and feldsher-obstetric stations appear in villages, is also one of Poroshenko’s initiatives. His unconditional merit is the revival of the army. It’s not for me to tell you in what condition our Army was in 2014 — it was undressed, barefoot and defenseless. The creation of an international pro-Ukrainian coalition is another merit of Poroshenko.
Let’s talk about visa-free travel. Although now they are already starting to say that we somehow got the visa-free regime, they say, Poroshenko’s merits are not here … Russians are angry that Ukrainians travel to Europe with biometric passports, and they have to queue at the embassies for visas.
Ihor Kononenko, you are called the gray cardinal of Petro Poroshenko.
Have you read the last book by Volodymyr Gorbulin? By the way, he writes there that he was also called a “gray cardinal” in his time. Our journalists sometimes like to make a mountains out of a molehill. You may be kidding calling me a gray eminence. And, you know, if the journalists who called me that way, at least once joined me during my meetings with people in the villages, they would stop doing that.
Tell us a little about yourself: about your family.
I have been married for over 30 years, I have got three children, a son and two daughters, I already have a daughter-in-law and I hope we’ll have a grandson soon … We all live together (except for the youngest daughter who is studying abroad). I believe that a large family, if possible, should live together. At least once a week we gather at a large table and this is very important to me.
You can read more about Ihor Kononenko in the upcoming third and final part of this exclusive interview here.