IV Forum of Ukrainian Diaspora in Greece
October 5, 2010
IV Forum of the Ukrainian Diaspora in Greece
The IV Forum of the Ukrainian Diaspora in Greece was held on Evia Island, Eretria from September 3 to 13, 2010. This was the fourth such gathering organized by the Association of the Ukrainian Diaspora in Greece “Ukrainian Greek Thought.”This year’s forum was the first to see the Ukrainian World Congress (UWC) join the European Congress of Ukrainians (ECU) and the Ukrainian Council of Peace among the organizers. The forum was attended by Diaspora representatives, guests from Ukraine and leaders of international and European Diaspora organizations, namely UWC President Eugene Czolij and UWC First Vice-president and ECU President Jaroszlava Hartyanyi.
Ukrainian education was a major topic of discussion. The education conference held on September 9 addressed the successes and challenges facing Ukrainian schools, the Diaspora’s role in strengthening Ukraine’s educational system and teaching methodology for Ukrainian studies: language and literature, geography and history. During the summary session, conference participants spoke about the importance of strengthening the Ukrainian school system in the Diaspora, protecting the Ukrainian language in Ukraine and abroad. Concerns were voiced about the government’s drive to rewrite history in Ukraine. UWC President Eugene Czolij called on educators to react to all anti-Ukrainian initiatives and to educate the upcoming generation with Ukrainian heroes as role models. The participants’ positions on education were formulated in the conference resolutions.
Roundtable discussions on the topics “Ukraine between Europe and Russia” and “Challenges and solutions to Ukrainian nation building” included Ambassador Yuri Shcherbak and history professor Oleksandr Hisema, Ph. D. as discussants. The documentary film “Between Hitler and Stalin” was screened during the Forum.
A memorial service for the victims of the Holodomor was held on September 10 at St. Eleftherios Church. Prayer candles were lit by the Ambassador of Ukraine to Greece Volodymyr Shkurov and Ukrainian Diaspora representatives in Greece as part of the international “Svichka Molinnia” (Remembrance Candle) campaign. The service was led by two Ukrainian priests of the Greek Orthodox Church, Frs. Mykhailo Yurin and Vasyl Lylo. After the service UWC President Eugene Czolij spoke about the true causes of the Holodomor and called upon the Greek government to recognize the man-made famine as an act of genocide against the Ukrainian people. The Chair of the “Ukraina 33” Committee from Lyons, France, Genia Kuzen, spoke about her committee’s efforts to raise public awareness about the genocide.
The keynote address during the Forum’s closing ceremonies was delivered by UWC’s President. In his remarks Eugene Czolij commended the Association of the Ukrainian Diaspora in Greece “Ukrainian Greek Thought” led by Halyna Maslyuk-Kakku for its wide scope of activities and successful initiatives,noting in particular the unveiling of a monument to Taras Shevchenko at Zografou (Attica) City Hall in March 2010 and the organization of the IV Forum of Ukrainian Diaspora. Eugene Czolij provided a review of UWC activities in the past year. He spoke about the issues raised with President Victor Yanukovych in the Memorandum on important issues concerning Ukraine and the Ukrainian Diasporaandprovided his thoughts on the disturbing tendencies being observed in Ukraine today. Given the serious nature of current affairs that may result in the Ukrainian state reverting to Russian colonial status, the UWC President appealed to the entire Ukrainian Diaspora to:
· Strengthen ties with the Ukrainian people who reside and support all national-democratic forces in their quest to secure mature nation statehood in Ukraine
· Ensure that all democratic forces in the world:
– accept Ukraine as a European state with enormous intellectual, scientific and technological and educational potential
– view independent Ukraine as a safeguard of stability in Europe and not through the prism of Russia
– demand that Russia adhere to all international obligations and not encroach upon the independent Ukrainian state, and
– monitor violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms by the governments of Russia and Ukraine
· Conduct public awareness campaigns to help Ukrainians. Examples include:
– international and national forums, conferences and similar events on the topic of Ukraine’s independence and Russia’s international obligations and inviolability of Ukraine’s borders
– the international “Svichka Molinnia” campaign for recognizing the Holodomor as genocide of the Ukrainian people
– International Human Rights Day events on December 10 every year to draw attention to human and national rights issues facing Ukrainians in Ukraine and beyond its borders
– International Native Language Day events on February 21 every year to protect the Ukrainian language in Ukraine and Diaspora; and
– Constitution Day events in Ukraine on June 28 every year to draw attention to the government’s respect for Rule of Law and Ukraine’s Fundamental Law.
In conclusion the UWC President spoke about the need to have faith in the future of the Ukrainian people and called on Ukrainians around the globe to unite around the national idea – the idea of Ukrainian statehood.
The text of the UWC President’s address is available in its entirety on the website (Ukrainian language):http://www.ukrainianworldcongress.org/Speeches/IVforum_09.10.2010.pdf
The gathering also heard from the Ambassador of Ukraine to Greece Volodymyr Shkurov, Ambassador of Ukraine Yuri Shcherbak and ECU President Yaroslava Khortyani.
In conclusion the participants of the IVForum of the Ukrainian Diaspora adopted a series of resolutions. A gala concert culminated the Forum proceedings.
Detailed information about the IVForum of the Ukrainian Diaspora is available on the Association of the Ukrainian Diaspora in Greece “Ukrainian Greek Thought” website: http://ukrgrdumka.gr/2010-03-17-18-50-11/-iv/61-iv-
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