UWC President Eugene Czolij meets with high-level government officials and citizens of the Netherlands to discuss benefits of the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement
On 29 March – 2 April 2016, Ukrainian World Congress (UWC) President Eugene Czolij travelled to the Netherlands where he met with high-level government officials and civil society of the Netherlands, including the Ukrainian community.
The purpose of the working visit was to discuss the benefits of the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement (Association Agreement) and the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area (DCFTA), ratified by 28 EU member states including the Netherlands, prior to a referendum on 6 April 2016 in which voters will decide whether or not to accept the Dutch ratification.
Emphasizing the incredibly high stakes of this referendum for the Netherlands, and all of Europe, the UWC President outlined in his discussions the significance of the Association Agreement for both the Netherlands and Ukraine, dispelled myths about the Association Agreement, and presented to the people of the Netherlands the new, democratic, reform-minded, European Ukraine.
Highlighting the economic benefits for the Netherlands with success stories of Dutch businessmen working and prospering in Ukraine, Eugene Czolij noted that once Ukraine aligns its business laws, regulations and procedures with European norms and standards, trade with Ukraine for Dutch companies will essentially be the same as trading with any other EU member state, and the Netherlands will have open access to Ukraine’s market of 45 million consumers.
The UWC President also cautioned the Dutch on the negative implications of a vote against ratifying the Association Agreement, including signaling a lack of confidence in Ukraine; calling into question Europe’s global image of a stable and well functioning geopolitical block; throwing the future of the EU’s Eastern Partnership into question, opening the door to Russian ambitions in this part of Europe while raising many European security concerns; and bolstering the forces from both within, as well as outside Ukraine, to push East – an opportunity Russia will seize to continue pulling Ukraine into its sphere of influence.
On separate occasions, Eugene Czolij addressed students with lectures hosted by the Student Society of International Relations at the University of Utrechtand the Faculty of Law at the Leiden University, and gave a speech at a town hall meeting at the Politiek café in Sittard. He was also a panelist in the “Battle for Europe” conference organized by the Nexus Institute in Amsterdam, and had the opportunity to address a conference in The Hague organized by Brand New Ukraine titled “Success and failures in reforming Ukraine.”
The UWC President delivered introductory remarks prior to a screening of the documentary film “Winter on Fire: Ukraine’s Fight for Freedom” in the Pathe Tuschinski cinema in Amsterdam.
During the working visit, Eugene Czolij participated in the Ukrainian-Netherlands Business Forum organized to present trade and investment opportunities in Ukraine.
The UWC President also had the opportunity to meet with the Ukrainian community in the Netherlands, organized by The Foundation of Ukrainians in the Netherlands.
“The EU-Ukraine Association Agreement offers Ukrainians a chance, maybe their only chance for the next very long time,” commented UWC President Eugene Czolij. “This Association Agreement will not solve all of Ukraine’s problems overnight, but this Association Agreement will transform Ukraine for the benefit of Ukrainians, the Netherlands, the European community, and global peace and security.”
List of officials with whom the UWC President met in the Netherlands
- Lilianne Ploumen, Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperationof the Netherlands
- Astrid Thors, OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities
- Nico J. Shrijver, Chairman of the Committee of Foreign Affairs, Defence and Development of the Senate of the Parliament of the Netherlands
- Frank van Kappen, Member of the Committee of Foreign Affairs, Defence and Development of the Senate of the Netherlands
- Menno Knip, Member of the Committee of Foreign Affairs, Defence and Development of the Senate of the Netherlands
- Petra Stienen, Member of the Committee of Foreign Affairs, Defence and Development of the Senate of the Netherlands
- Maria Martens, Member of the Committee of Foreign Affairs, Defence and Development of the Senate of the Netherlands
- A. (Tuur) Elzinga, Member of the Committee of Foreign Affairs, Defence and Development of the Senate of the Netherlands
- Henkten Hoeve, Member of the Committee of Foreign Affairs, Defence and Development of the Senate of the Netherlands
- Jacques Monasch, Member of Parliament of the Netherlands
- Michiel Servaes, Member of Parliament of the Netherlands
- Daphne Bergsma, Director of the Europe Department, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands
- Dirk Jan Kop, Special Envoy for the Eastern Partnership, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands
- Esselien van Eerten, Task Force on Referendum, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands
- Francis Malige, Managing Director for Eastern Europe and Caucasus of European Bank of Reconstruction and Development
- Rob Riemen, Founder and President of the Nexus Institute
- Dr. Aaron Matta, The Hague Institute for Global Justice
- Tony van der Togt, Clingendael (Netherlands Institute of International Relations)
List of Ukrainian representatives with whom the UWC President met in the Netherlands
- His Holiness Filaret (Denysenko), Head of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church Kyiv Patriarchate
- His Beatitude Sviatoslav (Shevchuk), Head of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church
- Yaakov Dov Bleich, Chief Rabbi of Kyiv and Ukraine, Chair of Union of Jewish Religious Organizations of Ukraine
- Pavlo Klimkin, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine
- Natalie Jaresko, Minister of Finance of Ukraine
- Oleksii Pavlenko, Minister of Agricultural Policy and Food of Ukraine
- Nataliya Mykolska, Deputy Minister of Economic Development and Trade/Trade representative of Ukraine
- Dmytro Shymkiv, Deputy Head of the Presidential Administration of Ukraine
- Olexander Horin, Ambassador of Ukraine to the Kingdom of the Netherlands
- Dmytro Kuleba, Ambassador at Large at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine
- Josef Zissels, Chairman of the Association of Jewish Organizations and Communities of Ukraine (the Vaad of Ukraine), Еxecutive Vice President of the Jewish Confederation of Ukraine
- Eugeny Afineevsky, Director, “Winter on Fire: Ukraine’s Fight for Freedom”
- Halyna Sadomtseva, Producer, “Winter on Fire: Ukraine’s Fight for Freedom”
- Alex Kashpur, Cinematographer, “Winter on Fire: Ukraine’s Fight for Freedom”