On 26 November 2018, at the President Hotel in Kyiv, Ukraine, the XI Ukrainian World Congress held its first day of deliberations. Participating in the meeting were 248 delegates from 26 countries – representatives of the many organizations belonging to the UWC.Since its establishment in 1967, the Ukrainian World Congress (UWC) (until 1993 – the World Congress of Free Ukrainians) meets every five years to review its activities and to set the priorities for the future, including the election of the President and leadership of the UWC.
The eleventh meeting of the UWC was centred around the theme of strengthening Ukrainian statehood in the wake of the threat posed by the actions of the Russian Federation for Ukraine and the entire world.
During the presentation of his report on UWC activities for the period 2013-2018, UWC President Eugene Czolij noted that this period was one of the most challenging and at the same time, most promising in modern Ukrainian history. “In 2013, the people of Ukraine were pushed to the brink, but they held their ground and made a conscious choice. This choice united Ukrainians both within Ukraine, and beyond its borders, and as a result, over the past four years Ukraine has been actively reforming, combating corruption, building its economy and is becoming a known player on the international stage,” stated the UWC President.
The strengthening of ties within the global Ukrainian community and increasing political influence were discussed during the first plenary session of the Congress titled “The UWC in 2025 – developing a strategy for effective development.” In their appeals, speakers during the session called upon community representatives for a more harmonious and coordinated approach to common challenges that are being faced by Ukraine, and reminded the participants that all Ukrainians, regardless of their country of residence, must consider themselves and act as one nation.
“The Ukrainian diaspora is one of the most powerful diasporas in the world because we are one. The most important thing for us now is to develop a strategy for continued cooperation in the diaspora to ensure the defence of Ukrainian sovereignty. We should have very strong communities that can be the moral backbone of Ukraine, and focus on the building of institutions,” stated Ukrainian Canadian Congress President Paul Grod during the plenary session.
According to Paul Grod, it is the building of strong institutions, including the establishment of Ukrainian schools, churches, cultural, trade and professional organizations outside Ukraine that are capable of preserving the Ukrainian identity in the diaspora and preventing the loss of millions of Ukrainians to assimilation.
The need for more coordinated activities of the global Ukrainian community was also addressed by Secretary General Stefan Romaniw. “Although we are scattered, we are brought closer together by technology. We must improve our communication among all Ukrainian communities and consolidate good ideas to resolve common issues. In this lies our strength.”
During the first working day of the Congress, reports by member organizations and the UWC financial statement for 2012-2018 were presented. During the work of the Congress regional roundtables were dedicated to the development of Ukrainian communities around the world.
Reacting to the escalation of the recent military aggression of the Russian Federation, the result of an attack on 25 November 2018 by the Russian Federation on Ukrainian navy ships in the Kerch Strait, the UWC made an appeal to the international community that was unanimously supported by Congress delegates. In the appeal, the UWC condemns the aggression of the Russian Federation against Ukraine, demands the immediate release of Ukrainian sailors and their seized ships, the strengthening of sanctions against Russia, including banning it from the SWIFT international payments system, and rescinding its invitation to the G20 Summit scheduled to take place on 30 November 2018 in Argentina.
During the second working day of the XI UWC Congress delegates will participate in thematic sessions, and elect a President and new UWC leadership for the next four years.