Yalta European Strategy (YES) Held Online Conversation with Fareed Zakaria and Niall Ferguson on “Ten Lessons for a Post-Pandemic World” by Fareed Zakaria

28 October 2020

Yalta European Strategy in partnership with the Victor Pinchuk Foundation continues its series of online conversations on global challenges and what they mean for Ukraine. The 2nd conversation focused on how COVID 19 transforms the world and how countries can use the crisis to build a better future. Fareed Zakaria, Host, Fareed Zakaria GPS, CNN, discussed his book “Ten Lessons for a Post-Pandemic World” with Niall Ferguson, Senior Fellow, Hoover Institution, Stanford University. Victor Pinchuk, founder of YES, Victor Pinchuk Foundation, EastOne group, opened the conversation.

In his introductory remarks, Victor Pinchuk said: “Because we will meet for our traditional YES annual meeting only in 2021, until then, some of the world’s greatest minds and important decisionmakers agreed to get together online, to analyse global challenges and what they mean for Ukraine. Today, we have the great pleasure of welcoming Fareed Zakaria and Niall Ferguson. From your combined intellectual firepower, we expect some excellent advice.”

Speaking on how COVID-19 transforms the world, Fareed Zakaria said: COVID-19 has been the great accelerator. It has taken trends that were already happening, and massively accelerated them. But I think sometimes that when you accelerate a phenomenon or a structural change so far, so fast, it can have a fairly dramatic effect that might not have happened, had the same thing happened slowly. (...) The pandemic has been the great accelerator, not the transformative wave that some others are talking about.” He added: “This pandemic has really affected everyone. It is very difficult to imagine a phenomenon that has literally changed the lives of every human being on the planet. That gives you a sense of the magnitude.”

Answering Neil Ferguson’s question about effectiveness of democracies versus authoritarian states, Mr. Zakaria pointed out: “We in the West are losing faith in democracy for no reason. It is not democracy that is failing us in the sense that democracies cannot perform public functions, they can. What we have developed in the west is atherosclerosis: we have created bureaucracies that are strange, highly politicized, and then we are surprised that those institutions and democracies don’t function well. But this is not about democracy. Democracies can do it. It is not about the quantity of government, it is about the quality of government.”

Discussing the challenge for Ukraine that finds itself in the middle of competition within a bipolar world, Fareed Zakaria noted: “Fundamentally, Ukraine’s problem is that it needs to be secure and independent. For that, it needs the support of the West in a fairly unqualified way. The second part is that Ukraine has to reform. It has to find a way to viably build its institutions and create an open economy, deal with corruption, all those things. And that requires a degree of independence and protection. The West has to help by providing some security and some guarantees, but ultimately, the Ukrainians have to do this.”

The YES Annual Meeting 2020 was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. YES and the Victor Pinchuk Foundation remain committed to integrating Ukraine with the world and put the country on the international agenda. Since 2004, Yalta European Strategy has been the main non-governmental platform for connecting the world and Ukraine. The YES Annual Meetings have brought together world political, business and thought leaders to discuss Ukraine’s future and pressing global challenges.

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Jared Cohen
Jared Cohen
Founder and CEO, Jigsaw, 15th YES Annual Meeting, 2018
«In the process of helping Ukraine we’re going to learn about the most recent tactics that are deployed by outside actors to disrupt the democratic process.»