Ep. 117 - Natalie Jaresko

Update: 2017-01-30
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Natalie Jaresko, Ukraine's former Finance Minister, chats with David Axelrod about her Ukrainian-American upbringing in Chicago, how Russia’s violation of international norms could portend global upheaval, and the potential costs of a Trump administration's isolationist policy both in the United States and globally.

Following script is auto-generated by Speech to Text Technology:

the board for the acts files comes from rockin' mortgage my Quicken loans lift the burden of getting a home loan with rockin' mortgage and get a secure transparent home loan approval in minutes skip the bank of the waiting then go completely online at Quicken loans dot com slash X Files This podcast is brought you by sixty DB listen to conversations that go beyond the headlines business sports politics today's news plus all of your favorite podcasts download the free sixty DB at today the the the the and now from the University of Chicago Institute of Politics and CNN The X Files with your host David Axelrod The The I've always been fascinated by Natalie to rest go from the first time I read over a woman born and raised in Chicago who wound up as finance minister of Ukraine at a time of great crisis for that nation Mr. S cocaine by the Institute of Politics the other day and I got a chance to ask her about Ukraine today the tense struggle with Russia and what the election of Donald Trump as America's president may mean for that region the the mail addressed to welcome welcome home to us to Chicago so the obvious question to ask it yet is has had as a gal from Chicago become finance minister of Ukraine just in case there are people listening who are young women in Chicago and aspire to be finance minister of Ukraine but tell me about your friend tell me how you got to Chicago or your family got to Chicago so both my parents I from Ukraine and both of them fled in different ways some during World War Two my father was from the Soviet part of Ukraine and fled from Stalinist Soviet Union ended up in a displaced persons camp in Germany my mom and Max was born in Germany because her mom wasn't just a bite or a bow Ukraine was taken to work by the Nazis and my grandmother gave birth to my mom in Germany but also they ended up in these displaced persons camp they were blessed am from the displaced persons camps be able to emigrate to the United States America there are many cases where people like that were sent back to Soviet Union but the Americans never did that the Americans let them have a life and so they met here in United States in the Chicago area and we lived in a western suburbs but we were raised to the different kinds of diaspora we were raised because my father came out of the Soviet part of the forms of union he never expected and so he wanted was for his children to be the best possible American citizens to the best possible education and integrating to nine states America he was so so thrilled to be in the nineties so grateful father ended up serving in the U S military in the Korean War I and so we were raised being very American but at the same time with all of the Ukrainian heritage because my grandparents didn't speak English to hear we went Ukrainian school here m Saturdays and at the church and raisin steeped in history and culture you know this is something we have in common because my father was from Ukraine and I had let a generation earlier one of my favorite cities in all of Ukraine that in exactly it is gorgeous I when I We met last year when I was there for a conference and I to get to my dad's hometown and I still do everybody tells me that it's it's quite a place extremists on the banks of the Reverend is a huge fortress built remember the sixteenth or even earlier century it's absolute stunning it will be really emotional thing for me to go back there he left under difficult circumstances you know his home was blown up you know the environment was terrible then for a Jewish family of but that's a part of his life I don't know a lot about and I am eager to go back we'll tell you this apropos to your point about your dad always made me proud when I was overseas with the president to work for President Obama to hear the national anthem played on foreign soil but I went with him to Moscow in in two thousand and nine and found it particularly have to be the eve of what would have been my father's ninety ninth birthday at all came rushing back to me that my family last Eastern Europe under those circumstances and I came back as the senior advisor to presidents who have been African American and it made me even prouder of of our country it so I think about that all the time so it is is it's not on it it makes you to some extent lead even American dream the American miracle American mission but in my case I was able to take and apply it overseas in the land of my ancestors am interested in that you so you went to school here and keep all my father's very practical so he insisted I study a professional counting on the side I studied political science and he didn't notice on the upbringing that grates on me didn't notice I had some fabulous professors of political science who encouraged me to do what I might let my passion was and did you that you wanted to return to Ukraine it was graduated just about fell yes but I still didn't leave the Soviet Union would collapse and I apply to law schools and then I got this letter inviting me to apply for dual program at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard along with the law school a knife at noon that's really really fabulous idea and so I went to the Kennedy School and up not going to law school and then from there on to the State Department at my professors Richard Haas which is why last night was so funny when he spoke at the constant goal to hear a Chicago Richard Haas who is the National Security advisor for prayer for President Bush's first President Bush he was Euro use it you are his tune at the Kennedy Kennedy School had did you keep up with him over the years on and off and certainly the lighthouse I didn't have much contact with him and but later yes and now even much more so I was interested to read that your your thesis in graduate school was on international trade policy you must be watching this transition there are many reasons few to be watching this transition America closely but in the last few days as we speak of there's been a sea change in American policy relative to trade so I have had to due process that is someone who who's written study and that they get a terrorist I think the United States and most of any country the world has benefited from open trade from from from global trade and I think it's a real shame that protectionism is becoming the name of the game both here and abroad I think it's a it's a big mistake I think what people are blaming trade agreements and are blaming global trade for what really is not changing technology in the types of jobs that are going to be available and we ought to be looking at him how to educate people for the next generation into the new generation of jobs rather than closing off them from the innovation the technology the trade opportunities and so the concern it appears simple and I know it's a sell able both here and abroad but you know I also live in a country that had a revolution in order to sign a European Union deep and comprehensive Free Trade Agreement free trade with the European Union is a membership but free trade gives you such an opening in such a relationship and so for me free trade is a very important as disappointing a lot of focus has been placed on the trans Pacific Partnership but there's also a transatlantic partnership that was under negotiation has been under negotiation presumably also will will not move forward now what does that mean for for Europe I think right now Europe has so many challenges that I'm not sure that the trade agreement will be the first to be a disappointment I think for Europeans generally but I think Brussels is a very very engaged in a couple things number one what sex it will be what I want be what it costs to whom it would cost to the far right in the populist some unfortunate candidates in many of the upcoming elections and what that means the future of the EU and then last but not least is the refugee problem which you know is not new it's not based solely on Syria but clearly and really exacerbated there's reason to believe it might get worse now with what's happening in Libya so I want to get to those issues I want to lose the the threat of of your narrative here so when you left A Kennedy school you went to the State Department did and there was something called the Office of Soviet Union affairs and because Gorbachev just announced pedestal I cut and glass noticed we started an economic relationship with the Soviet Union for the first time we always had a human rights we were fighting for dissidents and were fighting for Jewish rights in for Jewish emigration we always had at nuclear power discussion with the Soviets am but we had some cultural but we never had an economic relationship so I got the win in this state can use this new office led by John Herbst now investor Herbst and was at the Atlantic Council and TM know he was putting together the first tax treaties with the Soviet in the first bilateral investment treaties we were having customs exchanges to try and build some type of mutual understanding in areas where we could and that was extraordinary it was under the Bush Senior the administration then I moved to be an advisor on of the region to the economic spiral from there and my boss's boss was Bob Selleck the time he was undersecretary know you traveling back and forth to spend time in Eastern Europe did you go back to Ukraine at this point but interesting enough and the M I did travel this typically Moscow and dumb you can imagine why Kazakhstan and because we are interested in developing relationships with our oil companies in Kazakhstan even back then they can see with the potential is how we sae we traveled a lot to Kyrgyzstan because it was a leader there Mr. Coyote who impressed United States with his his Democratic philosophy we had no relationship with Ukraine in for the most part Ukraine was closed because of its role in the military it was closed to foreigners for the most part so I had during that entire time I never set set foot in Ukraine I had one trip I at the very end now I was blessed to go to Alta to Crimea and raise as Ukrainian I always leave Crimea was part of Ukraine as I believe it is today and I that was the only time I've been in Ukraine before I was assigned to the N C There was a warrior you were in the State Department when no one actually in the State Department when the wall fell Sarah eighty nine just around that you join just about that that time what were your feelings having grown up in your household and with with the parents who were driven out when the wall came down and Germany in Eastern Europe it was hopeful but then I again I was raised thinking that would mean you would never fall apart that it was just such an evil empire and that the security was so tight that perhaps they'd give up East Germany perhaps they give up Poland Romania Bulgaria Czech Republic but never never the boundaries of so when that happened in the end of nineteen eighty one was an extraordinary feeling I and you know as public policy wonk and it was also interesting to watch how the administration dealt with that because you know there was a speech that President Ford Senior Bush gave in Kiev and of trying to tell people to calm their nationalist proclivities because he was afraid to as many were that having multiple countries to deal with would be more complicated than having one on one central power to deal with and am the end of the city can peacefully in Ukraine at a single set of blood not a single person harmed and so it was an extraordinary positive moment what do you dad was alive at that yes yes what were your conversations light he was a cynical so he wasn't certain that anything would change the um and m my father in I kind of going against my father's wishes and going into public service I had an account yet hello lawyer but you know governments and you know for my dad Big Government Government was a bad thing coming up so he didn't really like that I was focused on these issues it interesting because he your dad was educated under the GI Bill so he knew he had served in the in the use in the service during during the Korean War and he got a degree here in Chicago but he didn't associate that with government even though I was good things I don't but you know he was of Reagan in essence you know the less the better and in I came out of graduate school with a lot of debt took a very low is a GSM and seven or something so he was disappointed but over time he understood that it was what it really was my passion when I had the opportunity go to the Embassy of the civil servant I was not a Foreign Service Officer Bob Zoellick was able to break the rules because we opened all these embassies simultaneously we didn't have enough language qualified people who could speak was back at chic chick man cuz the question to go to the staff all these emcees and say Here I was a Ukrainian speaker an economist State Department civil servant so he sent me out there yeah mom my dad was shocked they went back in he kicks in we left I can imagine you your family have a similar perspective we left there we had freedom when healing back for and am as you know to help them get that kind of freedom I feel I feel a sense of the sense of duty to ever grasp that he did he came to visit me once before he passed away and he any interest an interesting and my mom comes all the times she and her new but you and you never really went back no so after three years I was the Clinton administration I looked to see what kind of positions and I feel to get in Washington was very interested in serving on the National Security Council time and that didn't happen and I thought going back to sit in the four walls was really going to be what was good for me I wanted to continue to make change there in diplomacy timeframe of activity Ukrainian government officials learned to talk the talk you talk about freedom and privatization markets and they nod their heads and agree with you and things were changing fast enough and I maybe am an impatient Chicagoans and sold them that some would say that an oxymoron if President Clinton created his enterprise comes on the basis of what's George for senior done in Eastern Europe on the wall came down to put money behind small medium size business and it goes back to my belief in kind the American dream if you can create enough jobs in small medium size business you can ensure democracy if all you have are extraordinarily poor and a very thin upper class of oligarchs you know Max is going to be a risk every day and so this hundred fifty million dollar fund US taxpayer money give me an opportunity to walk the walk and actually try and show you can do legal business you can pay your taxes you can get good corporate citizen you can employ people to be quarterly social responsible in a town and you can make a change Abby prayerful and we did that we do that for ten eleven years and you are you in the government for ten or ten or eleven is a private citizen managing these funds yeah you know this point you raise about the need for there to be viable pathways of opportunity for people and people need to feel like they can get ahead for democracy to be viable it sort of Sir relates back to this discussion we had earlier about what's going on in Europe what's going on here and around the world because we have these revolutionary changes in our economy wrought by technology as much as anything else but a lot of folks don't hear in this country a lot of folks don't feel that that American dream that we grew up with is viable because people are doing fantastically well many people who are peddling as fast as they can and their jobs may you know been automated door and it's true in wages down and saw none of this is a this is a challenge everywhere for it is for developed economies global challenge and it's him a chance for emerging markets as well because you knew you fall farther and farther behind if you don't recognize the need to educate and the need for re education basically of categories of individuals who can't be employed anymore in their traditional employment and so United States and about countries you have the means in terms of budgetary him to try and do that try to provide continuing education to people but I think emerging markets you're still stuck often farther behind just trying to catch up with what happened yesterday in developed markets when we all have to be thinking how this critical force industrial revolution needs to take us into into another completely new place I think that term can win when you think about is the very basic at that this is correct in the largest single category of employment and I says truck drivers yes we now have this discussion often and you know we've got one driver list Russ come online and you have this discussion in Scandinavia in Switzerland about him perhaps some kind of payment the national payment in tandem and call it welfare because now the little palm with that award category that won't be re educated yeah but the terror you know I think that there are two aspects to and you are a shining example in your folks but there are two aspects to work in one as the paycheck the other is the dignity that comes with being productive and being a productive part of society and so on so you know it may be necessary in some way to guaranteeing comes but it it if it's not accompanied by work real productive work then you have a crisis of the soul of that goes along with that so angry I just I just fear that it makes a sound aquatic rodent could bring the jobs back and said I just don't believe him to be able to bring jobs back yeah I mean the question where the job he had tutorial jobs and whether that category of unemployed we take the next category of open positions question the other application where you are talking about was to serve the need for democratic institutions and you've been about the business of trying to build up civic institutions democratic institutions in your country how challenging is that because you know frankly one of the issues the recurring issues and you hear it and I heard it when I was at that conference involves issue of corruption to the boys had the benefit for twenty five years people would ask me about corruption in city wanna talk about Chicago due and i wana corruption is not new it's not unique Ukraine is in human nature what makes corruption manageable in the United States or in other countries is a system of rule of law that works don't know ninety percent of it I ninety five percent of the time so you'll always have a category of individuals who on the on the margin wants to take a risk thinks that there's still outsmart the system or the system and find out but the general average citizen basically doesn't want to get caught there's enough of a fear if you evade paying your taxes in the United States fear the IRS frankly speaking in an envelope in the mail you not happy um and so what Ukraine has to do and with who we are today is done alot in terms of eliminating specific corruption in our gas trade we've gotten rid of all the traders in between the purchaser in a cellar for years billions of dollars individual interests were eliminated over the last three years we create transparency to make it less possible e procurement across all public government organizations it's harder to be crap when it's transparent in all of civil societies watching created new institutions sewing a new prosecutor anti corruption prosecutor a new national anti corruption bureau new paid Western salaries well trained but the bottom all of this requires not just the political will but you need to have a court that when the prosecutor does his job and brings the case forward the court cannot be brought in the court cannot influence the court new Again ninety whatever percentage time will do the right thing according to law and that's where we still haven't completed the process we began in October and major constitutional judicial reform can take three or four years in the interim it's all up to political will and fighting corruption with political will only is is very very high so courts are the final institution and probably if I had to start a country it myself I made the lesson learned is quite should be first rule of law needs to be first when to take a short break and we'll be back with Natalie Jusco rocket mortgage by Quicken loans proudly supports the X Files when it comes to the big decision of choosing a mortgage lender it's important to work with someone you can trust leisure best interests in mind with rockin' mortgage you'll get a transparent online process that gives you the confidence you need to make an informed decision skip the bank skip the waiting and go completely online at Quicken loans dot com slash X Files equal Housing lender license in all fifty states and MLS consumer access dot org Number thirty thirty you obviously have been witness to a great deal of turmoil in Ukraine over the past fifteen years or more as this battle between the old in the new clash and as the country struggle to develop its democratic institutions talk about that and the Orange Revolution in Adam Dunn and two cans and fourteen fifteen in thinking for two yes I think you have something in Ukrainian society that's unique you have an incredible desire for freedom and an incredible desire for sovereignty and self rule and and when the political system resulted and presidents who enable decriminalization of both the economy but also political power and oligarchs essentially and it's even more than Alex's its vested interest in another committee think that is like five or but it's to hundreds of vested interests and when that man opposition goes too far that the civil society reacts and the Orange Revolution was the first time because you had the stolen election with a presidential candidate present you shook a poisoned I'm very very very visible to everyone and this is before the technology you know this before love the twitter and everything else two thousand for but yet they could see that what they call carousel Bus people from place to place to multiply multiply their votes he could see that the that the fraud and people has refused to accept it they were shoes that in a particular answer to what not but they refuse until we had new elections and so they aren't revolution was about that fraud and electoral fraud that mean opposition of the political system a handgun after the Orange Revolution and things settle back a lot was done to kind of increase aid any country in strength how was just just let me pause you for saying that time where you were you thinking and feeling at that time was poisoned him what was his wife twenty years of Chicago O'Hare s It's Chicago and a graduate of the university had no idea she's in a good friend you know we were we were extraordinarily helpful but it also creates a sense of fear because there was belief that you know somebody willing to poison him then it's on really didn't want to go down this track I and so there was a very big fear behind who would have poisoned him why were they poisoned him you know what will cause something like that but I think that the overwhelming feeling was one of excitement but I think we left it to government officials civil society and become active enough I was in the business sector I'll include myself in that and we kind of the great re elected and the president now he can go take care of things and the system isn't strong enough you know the date democratic institutions are strong enough political parties and strong enough to enable that we all needed to be there to check and balance and what's different about this revolution that just occurred um I mean a couple things that if and when it ended up in violence people were killed heavenly hundred hundred people were killed on our people by their own government but prolly the other big positive difference is after this revolution civil societies remain engaged they remained demanding and technology helps because you can get information across very quickly you can film everything you can drop the drones over over business and government officials' homes you can file a judge's and record them with your iPhone from from their car and what car they drive in where they go during the day as all public but civil society has pushed and been the balance and says this revolution an accident even reversed policy so so society has become much stronger in this two twenty five years ago as two generations and very demanding but very engaged this time so this is a very different post revolution or Ukraine but we're certain of we should talk about the elephant in the room because the overhang on all of this is Russia um and and their role both in the last administration and in the whole dispute over whether Ukraine will join the European Union and then ultimately in the invasion of Crimea in eastern and eastern Ukraine to think that there are two things happening in line is what's happening in the region itself I think the Kremlin could not bear the thought of Ukraine becoming a truly democratic economic second on the successful rule of law state because that example right next door in a country that's very close culturally historically and to pressure would cause questions as to why is the system in Russia said if I am one of the most remarkable moments of the revolution was when the parliament adopted what was called Black Thursday adapted limitations on all of the civil liberties of people they couldn't wear hats you can wear a facemask you couldn't have more than five cars in a row he couldn't gather in front of
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Ep. 117 - Natalie Jaresko

The Axe Files with David Axelrod