e-Partnership Situation Review: Ukraine and Georgia demonstrate surprisingly strong results

06.October.2017

Oct 5, 2017

E-governance Academy has completed its largest ever study on Eastern Partnership countries’ safety of information society and e-democracy. The study found that Ukraine and Georgia demonstrate the highest development in this field. According to authors, the enthusiasm-based cooperation of civil society and IT industry in Ukraine can serve as a role model also for Estonia.

The Situation Review of Eastern Partnership countries provides an overview of the safety and security of cyberspace and also e-democracy’s current state-of-affairs in Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Republic of Moldova and Ukraine. The Review highlights best practices from these countries and provides concrete policy recommendations for increasing safety and security in their cyberspace and further developing e-democracy initiatives.

According to Estonia’s Foreign Minister, Mr Sven Mikser, the Situation Review demonstrates the willingness of the Eastern Partnership countries to actively pursue e-solutions for improving the safety of their information societies and increasing transparency. “I’m particularly delighted at the fast pace of development in Georgia and Ukraine. The Estonian-Georgian cooperation in the field of cyber security has borne fruit and lifted Georgia up among the top-ten achievers in the world. We hope that the policy recommendations, which are part of the Situation Review, provide support and guidance to the Eastern Partnership countries in their quest to improve public awareness about the opportunities created by e-solutions and about the effect these can have on the development of society”, he noted.

Estonian Center of Eastern Partnership director Jaan Reinhold stated that, “Our partners from the e-Governance Academy have done a remarkable job in putting this event together, and I congratulate them in particular for the quality of the speakers and discussions that we have heard here today—not to mention the Situation Review and the policy recommendations that we have discussed during the conference. In my opinion, these provide an excellent framework for showcasing the best examples of innovation and cooperation in the region on issues of e-governance and cybersecurity. They  also help us to identify the scope of the challenges we face while giving us innovative strategies to meet them. Thus, these recommendations provide the substance for even more fruitful cooperation during the coming months and years.
I am happy that our partners see this in the same way, as has been clearly demonstrated in their presentations.”

Raul Rikk, one of the authors of the Situation Review, noted that Eastern Partnership countries need a systematic and coordinated approach to state’s cyber security. “Eastern Partnership countries have been successful in several aspects, but in the future they should pay more attention to improving their readiness to handle cyber incidents, increasing their national defence capacities, dealing with military cyber threats and engaging more in international cooperation”, said Rikk.

One of the authors of the E-Democracy part of the Situation Review, Dr Kristina Reinsalu pointed out that the development of e-democracy in Eastern Partnership countries is often held back by the fact that strategies and legal acts are simply not followed and enforced. In addition, activities are often not very well coordinated between various institutions and the awareness of the population is relatively low on the existing e-solutions available to them. At the same time Reinsalu highlighted the strong improvements in Ukrainian e-democracy during recent years. “The Ukrainian government has realised that quality of decisions goes up when these decisions are made in an inclusive manner. The Ukraine government, together with civil society organisations has set up networks in order to offer better possibilities for cooperation and to seek solutions together.”

Reinsalu noted that Estonia, too, has a lot to learn from Ukraine. “In Ukraine one sees this enthusiasm-based cooperation between civil society and the IT community. The same kind that Estonia had during the years immediately following the restoration of independence, but which, by now, has decreased significantly.”

During a period of April-June 2017, the research team from the e-Governance Academy interviewed experts and civil society representatives from all six Eastern Partnership countries. In the analysis phase of the project and in putting together the policy recommendations the team also used data available in other publicly available studies and databases. The safety and security of cyberspace was evaluated using the e-Governance Academy’s own National Cyber Security Index methodology.

The Situation Review was created by the e-Governance Academy in cooperation with the Estonian Centre for Eastern Partnership. The work was jointly financed by the Estonian Development Cooperation and the Government of Sweden.

Findings of the Review were discussed at the e-Partnership Conference, which took place on October 4, 2017 in Tallinn, Estonia. The conference was part of Estonia’s Presidency of the Council of the European Union.
The Situation Review is available for download at the e-Governance Academy website http://ega.ee/