UWC President Eugene Czolij concludes visit to Germany
On 7-10 July 2018, Ukrainian World Congress (UWC) President Eugene Czolij fulfilled a working visit to Berlin, Germany, where he raised important Ukrainian issues during speaking engagements at side events that were held in the Bundestag in the framework of the 27th Session of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), and in meetings with high-ranking officials of Germany, members of national delegations to the Parliamentary Assembly of the OSCE, diplomats and the Ukrainian community.
On 8 July 2018, during his address to the session titled “Environmental assessment and recovery priorities for Eastern Ukraine”, Eugene Czolij reminded participants that the Donbas ranks third in the world among the territories most contaminated with mines and explosive materials as a result of the hybrid aggression of the Russian Federation. The UWC President emphasized that the presence of mines and unexploded ordnances is the main cause of death and injuries among the civilian population. He also indicated that 1.9 million people are affected by mines and unexploded ordnances, and that from April 2014 to the end of 2017 there were 2,558 civilian victims of surface mines, including 242 children. Eugene Czolij noted that, according to Ukrainian authorities, it would take approximately 40 years to clean up the territory. He also drew attention to the fact thatthe flooding of mines pollutes the underground water with heavy metals, and according to UN statistics, during only the two months of March and April 2018 there were 25 incidents that negatively impacted hygiene and water purity, and that water supplies for millions of residents were interrupted 10 times. In addition, Eugene Czolij noted that as a result of shelling in the Donbas almost 60 nature reserves have been damaged. He also highlighted that the military actions of the Russian Federation in the Donbas have seriously damaged civilian infrastructure and it is very difficult to do any repairs in the line of active fire. In this context, the UWC President called upon the Parliamentary Assembly of the OSCE to urge its members to take effective action for an expedient end to the hybrid aggression of the Russian Federation against Ukraine.
On 9 July 2018, addressing the session titled “Nord Stream 2 and the impact on the OSCE member states”, Eugene Czolij highlighted the critical importance of stopping construction of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline. The UWC President focused attention on the negative effects of this project for both Ukraine and the European Union (EU), including negative effects on the Ukrainian economy and its vulnerability for continued Russian military aggression, and a rise in gas prices and general dependence of the EU and Ukraine on gas supplies from the Russian Federation which, on several occasions, has used gas as a political weapon against various countries. Eugene Czolij asserted, the Nord Stream 2 project is only advantageous for the Russian Federation that will use it to build up its hybrid arsenal which already includes military aggression, cyberattacks, interference in the democratic processes of foreign countries and disinformation.
In meetings with German high-ranking officials, the UWC President expressed gratitude for the consistent support for Ukraine, foremost for participating in the Normandy format negotiations, signing the EU‑Ukraine Association Agreement and supporting the visa free regime and aid programs for Ukraine either directly or in the framework of the EU.
During various meetings with German high-ranking officials and members of national delegations to the Parliamentary Assembly of the OSCE, Eugene Czolij emphasized the breadth of the hybrid aggression against Ukraine on the part of the Russian Federation posing a serious threat of global proportion. He also focused attention on the destructive consequences of Russian aggression in Ukraine and provided examples of interference by the Kremlin on democratic processes around the world. He also called for the creation of conditions for the deployment of an UN peacekeeping mission to the Donbas and an OSCE monitoring mission to illegally occupied Crimea, and the active defence of Ukrainian political prisoners in the Russian Federation and in illegally occupied Crimea, among them Oleh Sentsov. In addition, Eugene Czolij highlighted the need to strengthen counteractions to the Russian disinformation campaign and informed about the significant reforms in Ukraine, including the adoption of a law establishing an anti-corruption court. He also urged Germany to strengthen support for Ukraine, and economic and trade cooperation. Furthermore, the UWC President called upon Germany to recognize the Holodomor as genocide of the Ukrainian people following the lead of 17 other countries.
On 8 July 2018, the UWC President attended Divine Liturgy in St. Nicholas Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church, after which he addressed the Ukrainian community. In his address, he presented an overview of current events in Ukraine and the main priorities of the UWC in support of Ukraine, and called for Ukrainians in Germany to work with the UWC.
That day, Eugene Czolij also joined an action in defence of Ukrainian political prisoners, in particular filmmaker Oleh Sentsov, organized in front of the Bundestag by Ukrainian activists in Berlin.
In Germany, the UWC President was accompanied by President of the Union of Ukrainian Organizations in Germany Lesya Shramko and Director of the UWC Mission to International Organizations in Brussels Maryna Iaroshevych.
“The Ukrainian World Congress will continue to actively cooperate with the governing authorities and Ukrainian community in Germany, which is a strategically important partner in support of Ukraine,” stated UWC President Eugene Czolij.
List of officials with whom the UWC President met:
Bagger Thomas, Ambassador, Director of Foreign Policy, Office of the President of Germany
Barnett Doris, Head of the Delegation of Germany to the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly, Treasurer of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly
Belkova Olga, Member of the Delegation of Ukraine to the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly, Deputy Chairperson of the Parliament of Ukraine Committee on Fuel and Energy Complex, Nuclear Policy and Nuclear Safety
Bertele Joachim, Deputy Director General of the Department for Foreign, Security and Development Policy, Federal Chancellery of Germany
Bowness Peter, Lord, Vice-President of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly, Chair of the Sub-Committee on Rules of Procedure and Working Practices
Chubarov Refat, Alternate Member of the Delegation of Ukraine to the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly, Member of the Parliament of Ukraine Committee on Human Rights, National Minorities and Interethnic Relations
Dion Stéphane, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Canada to Germany, Special Envoy of the Prime Minister of Canada to the European Union and Europe
Fry Hedy, Head of the Delegation of Canada to the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly
Hudson Richard, Member of the Delegation of the United States of America to the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly
Ganninger Angela, Head of Europe Unit, Office of the President of Germany
Jensen Peter, Head of the Delegation of Denmark to the NATO Parliamentary Assembly and the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly
King Steve, Member of the Delegation of the United States of America to the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly
Melnyk Andrii, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Ukraine in Germany
Peschke Andreas, Ambassador, Special Envoy for Eastern Europe, Caucasus and Central Asia, Federal Foreign Office of Germany
Pritchard Mark, Head of the Delegation of the United Kingdom to the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly
Prokopchuk Ihor, Permanent Representative of Ukraine to International Organizations in Vienna
Smith Christopher, Head of the Delegation of the United States of America to the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly, Special Representative on Human Trafficking Issues
Steinmeier Frank-Walter, President of Germany
Vysotskyi Serhiy, Alternate Member of the Delegation of Ukraine to the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly, Deputy Chairperson of the Parliament of Ukraine Committee on Freedom of Speech and Information Policy
Wachowski Mirosław, Head of the Delegation of the Holy See to the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly
Warning Claudia, Head of the Department for Middle East, Asia, Latin America, Southeastern and Eastern Europe, Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development of Germany
Whittingdale John, Member of the Delegation of the United Kingdom to the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly, Chairman of the UK-Ukraine All Party Parliamentary Group
Wicker Roger F., Vice President of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly, Deputy Head of Delegation of the United States of America to the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly
Please see video of the presentation by UWC President Eugene Czolij to the session “Nord Stream 2 and the impact on the OSCE member states” HERE.
Information on the address of the UWC President during the session titled “Environmental assessment and recovery priorities for Eastern Ukraine”, as reported by news agency Ukrinform is available HERE.
In the photo from left: F. – W. Steinmeier and E .Czolij