UWC convenes international forum “UWC at 50 and Beyond: European and Euro-Atlantic Forum” in Brussels to discuss support for Ukraine
On 7 November 2017, at the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) premises in Brussels, Belgium, the Ukrainian World Congress (UWC) Mission to International Organizations in Brussels organized an international high-level forum entitled “UWC at 50 and Beyond: European and Euro‑Atlantic Forum”, dedicated to the 50th anniversary of the UWC. The participants numbering over 150 included policy-makers, scholars, civil society and Ukrainian diaspora representatives from over 25 countries in Europe and around the world. Panelists and guests from EU institutions, NATO, UN, and other international organizations also featured on the agenda.
The opening session of the forum began with welcoming remarks by Vice President of the EESC Michael Smyth. The opening keynote address was delivered by UWC President Eugene Czolij. In a video address EU Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations Johannes Hahn reiterated the EU’s support for the reform process in Ukraine. In his turn, Managing Director for Europe and Central Asia at the European External Action Service (EEAS) Thomas Mayr Harting took stock of EU-Ukraine relations to date and shared his vision for the future. The official opening was moderated by Director of the UWC Mission to International Organizations in Brussels Maryna Iaroshevych.
The plenary sessions of the UWC forum focused on five major themes: Ukraine’s European integration, Ukraine’s Euro-Atlantic integration, the Marshall Plan for Ukraine, human rights and countering Russian disinformation. Discussions on the reform process in Ukraine in the context of the implementation of the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement and Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area (AA/DCFTA) and the Minsk process complemented the agenda.
Plenary Session I focused on the medium- and long-term perspectives of Ukraine’s ongoing integration with the EU. The panelists addressed the current state of reforms in Ukraine and the effectiveness of its anti-corruption measures, shared their vision of Ukraine’s strategic future development, including future EU membership, and discussed the contribution of various stakeholders to the development of EU-Ukraine relations. The panel was moderated by Director at the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum Natalia Yerashevich. Panelists included: Head of Support Group for Ukraine at the European Commission Peter Wagner (keynote speaker), Chairman of the Delegation to the EU‑Ukraine Parliamentary Association Committee at the European Parliament Dariusz Rosati, Co‑Chair of the EuroNest Parliamentary Assembly Marian Lupu, Member of the Foreign Affairs Committee at the European Parliament Elmar Brok and Member of the EU-Ukraine Civil Society Platform at the European Economic and Social Committee Andrzej Adamczyk.
Following the first panel discussions, Vice-Prime Minister of Ukraine on European and Euro-Atlantic Integration Ivanna Klympush-Tsintsadze delivered a keynote address on the topic: “Ukraine’s difficult challenges: stopping Russian aggression while furthering reforms.”
Plenary Session II was preceded by a keynote address by Ambassador Tacan Ildem, Assistant Secretary General for Public Diplomacy at NATO, who presented NATO-Ukraine relations in retrospect and outlined the prospects for the future. Plenary Session II, moderated by Senior Fellow on Security and Defense at the German Marshal Fund of the United States Bruno Lété, focused on the current challenges and opportunities of Ukraine’s Euro-Atlantic integration, including the need to fight the hybrid warfare of the Russian Federation and to grant Ukraine a roadmap for membership. Panelists included:Head of the Mission of Ukraine to NATO Vadym Prystayko, President of the Wilfried Martens Centre for European Studies and former Prime Minister of Slovakia Mikuláš Dzurinda, Deputy Secretary General for Policy of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly Ruxandra Popa and Policy Director at Rasmussen Global Jana Kobzova.
Plenary Session III dealt with the need for and potential benefits of a Marshall Plan for Ukraine. A financial package, akin to the 1947 Marshall Plan for Western Europe, would be a way for the international community to secure the Eastern borders of Ukraine and enable it to build a prosperous state. Panelists also discussed how international organizations could better prepare for different scenarios in the Donbas region and Crimea in the future. The panel was moderated by Senior Policy Analyst at the European Policy Centre Amanda Paul. Panelists included: Member of the Seimas of Lithuania and author of the idea of the Marshall Plan for Ukraine Andrius Kubilius (keynote speaker), Head of the EU-Ukraine Friendship Group Petras Auštrevičius, Member of the Foreign Affairs Committee at the European Parliament Tunne Kelam, and Director for Europe, Eastern Neighbourhood and Middle East at the Directorate-General for European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations of the European CommissionJean-Louis De Brouwer.
During Plenary Session IV, panelists shed more light on continuing human rights violations on the temporarily occupied territories of Crimea and Eastern Ukraine, namely the sham trials, imprisonment and torture of political prisoners, including journalists, by the Russian Federation, and identified a number of possible measures by the international community to reduce and stop such violations. The panel was moderated by FWO Postdoctoral Fellow at the Centre for EU Studies of the Ghent University Olga Burlyuk. Panelists included: Regional Coordinator for Europe at the Coalition for the International Criminal Court Virginie Amato, Project Coordinator at the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights Kateryna Ryabiko, Deputy Head of Board at the Center for Civil Liberties Oleksandra Romantsova, and spouse of imprisoned Ukrinform news agency journalist Roman Sushchenko – Anzhela Sushchenko.
Plenary Session V focused on Russian disinformation, on the threat it presents to the civilized world and on potential countermeasures. The Russian Federation spends about US$1.4 billion annually to spread its propaganda, reaching 600 million people in 30 languages in 130 countries. The panelists underlined in greater depth the scope and real impact of Russian disinformation machine in the EU and the rest of the world, and charted a number of strategies to better counteract Russian disinformation in the short and medium term. The panel was moderated by Head of the East StratCom at the EEAS Giles Portman. Panelists included: Chair of the Subcommittee on Security and Defence at the European Parliament Anna Elżbieta Fotyga, Director of Dinu Patriciu Eurasia Center at the Atlantic Council Ambassador John Herbst, Senior Officer for Russia and Western Balkans at NATO Public Diplomacy Division Robert Pszczel, Executive Director at the European Endowment for Democracy Jerzy Pomianowski, Policy Director at the Wilfried Martens Centre for European Studies Roland Freundenstein, and Member of the EU-Ukraine Civil Society Platform at the EESC Indrė Vareikytė.
Concluding remarks were delivered by the UWC President, who summed up the main points of the plenary sessions, presented the UWC perspective and thanked forum participants and organizers for their valuable contribution to this event.
Eugene Czolij also presented a certificate of recognition to Member of the Foreign Affairs Committee at the European Parliament and one of the speakers at the UWC forum Tunne Kelam for his contribution to supporting Ukraine in the EU.
The forum ended with an evening reception organized by the Embassy of Ukraine to Belgium and Luxembourg.
“The UWC forum offered a unique opportunity for representatives of the international community and the Ukrainian diaspora to exchange ideas on continued support for Ukraine and how best to utilize available resources to advance the aspirations of the Ukrainian people,” stated UWC President Eugene Czolij.
To access the programme of the “UWC at 50: European and Euro-Atlantic Forum” please click HERE.
To access the video address by Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations Johannes Hanh please click HERE.
In the photo: Vice-Prime Minister of Ukraine on European and Euro-Atlantic Integration I. Klympush-Tsintsadze is delivering keynote address.