UWC President meets with high-ranking officials and the Ukrainian community in Latvia
June 22, 2012
UWC PRESIDENT MEETS WITH HIGH-RANKING OFFICIALS
AND THE UKRAINIAN COMMUNITY IN LATVIA
From June 15-19, 2012, Ukrainian World Congress (UWC) President Eugene Czolij visited Riga, Latvia, to discuss a range of issues with the Speaker of the Latvian Parliament, Solvita Āboltiņa, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Edgars Rinkēvičs, the Ambassador of Ukraine to Latvia, Anatoliy Oliynyk, and the local Ukrainian community.
The UWC President was accompanied by Victor Stefanovich, a member of the Advisory Council on National Minorities to the President of Latvia, at the official meetings with the Speaker and the Minister of Foreign Affairs. In his discussions with the Speaker and Foreign Affairs Minister, Eugene Czolij expressed gratitude for Latvia’s recognition in 2008 of the Holodomor of 1932-33 as an act of genocide against the Ukrainian people, and stressed the importance of Ukraine’s Euro-integration and democratization and their significance for the collective interests of Europe as a whole.
The UWC President presented the results of a study which revealed that Ukraine’s integration into the European Union is most actively supported by Ukrainian youth, those with higher education, and people who have had the opportunity to experience the western way of life in the EU member states, the United States or Canada. He called upon Latvia, as a member of the EU, to support the elimination of the visa requirements for travel between the EU states and Ukraine, to encourage youth and student exchanges, and to raise awareness of European values among Ukrainians through various media. In addition, Eugene Czolij drew attention to Russia’s imperial ambitions, which are particularly evident in the “ruskiy mir” ideology and the plan to form a Russia-dominated Eurasian economic union of former Soviet states. He focused on the violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms by Ukraine’s governing authorities, and the need for the European community to exert pressure on them to return to democratic governance. Eugene Czolij also appealed to Latvia to send a large observer mission to the upcoming Parliamentary elections in Ukraine.
During his visit, the UWC President viewed the exhibits at the Museum of the Occupation of Latvia, where he familiarized himself with the country’s history and signed the guest registry.
Eugene Czolij then visited a local Ukrainian school, learning more about its activities from the Director, Lidija Kravčhenko. The UWC President also met with the local Ukrainian community to discuss a range of current issues related to Ukraine and the Ukrainian diaspora, as well as future cooperation with the UWC. After the community meeting, which took place in the Latvian Academic Library, he visited the Ukrainian Information Centre housed in that facility.
Ludmila Belinceva, the President of the Union of Ukrainian Associations in Latvia, and Ivan Nalivaiko, President of the Ukrainian Cultural-Educational Association Dnipro, both UWC member organizations, acquainted the UWC President with Ukrainian community life in Latvia.
The UWC is an international coordinating body for Ukrainian communities in the diaspora representing the interests of over 20 million Ukrainians. The UWC has member organizations in 32 countries and ties with Ukrainians in 14 additional countries. Founded in 1967 as a non-profit corporation, the UWC was recognized in 2003 as a non-governmental organization (NGO) by the United Nations Economic and Social Council with special consultative status.