UWC President Meets With Ukrainian Community in Toronto
April 11, 2011
UWC PRESIDENT MEETS WITH UKRAINIAN COMMUNITY IN TORONTO
The President of the Ukrainian World Congress (UWC) Eugene Czolij was in Toronto, Canada on March 26, 2011 where he met with the local Ukrainian community. He provided an update about the UWC activities and held a press conference. Eugene Czolij was introduced by the President of the Ukrainian Canadian Congress Paul Grod.
Eugene Czolij spoke about the action plan developed by the UWC during his term in office in order to establish a functioning partnership between the diaspora and Ukraine, strengthen ties between Ukrainian communities throughout the world and expand UWC’s cooperation with prominent international organizations.
He mentioned the four Memoranda on cooperation that were signed with Ukraine in 2009-2010 pertaining to issues such as protecting the interests of Ukrainians living abroad, improving Ukraine’s positive international image, safeguarding and popularizing the Ukrainian language in the diaspora and Ukraine, recognizing the 1932-1933 Holodomor in Ukraine as a genocide of the Ukrainian people and supporting Ukraine’s Euro-Atlantic aspirations.
The UWC President noted that since Victor Yanukovych became President of Ukraine last year, governmental policies in a number of important areas have changed radically, including the disregard of Ukrainian churches, denying the Holodomor as a genocide of the Ukrainian people, signing of the Kharkiv Accord, erecting monuments to Stalin and violating fundamental rights and freedoms in Ukraine, all of which have been condemned by the UWC.
Eugene Czolij spoke about the meeting between UWC’s leadership and President Victor Yanukovych that took place in June 2010 and the contents of the UWC Memorandum on important issues concerning Ukraine and the Ukrainian diaspora which was handed to President Yanukovych during that meeting. In that Memorandum, the UWC stated its position concerning troubling developments in Ukraine and asked the new government to provide its official position concerning cooperation with the UWC, including the above four Memoranda on cooperation. The UWC President noted that, after nine months, the UWC has not received a definitive reply to the said Memorandum. The only logical conclusion that can be drawn is that the current administration does not wish to continue cooperating with the UWC on that basis.
Eugene Czolij also indicated that the UWC continued monitoring violations of democratic principles in Ukraine and condemned them in a number of statements with respect to the persecution by Ukrainian government forces of the Director of the “Lonsky Street Prison” Museum and Memorial Complex and of political opponents, changes to the Law on Elections and the governmental ban on protests organized by business people in Kyiv. The UWC also called for a stop to the attacks on the Ukrainian language and higher education in Ukraine in its statements regarding bills on regional and minority languages and on higher education.
Next, Eugene Czolij provided information about UWC’s decision to expand its cooperation with prominent international organizations and governments in the countries of residence of the Ukrainian diaspora, on issues pertaining to the protection of Ukrainian statehood, its democratic achievements and the human and national rights of Ukrainians around the globe. Accordingly, the UWC President paid an official visit to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe and the European Parliament in December 2010 and took part in the 16th Meeting of the EU-Ukraine Parliamentary Cooperation Committee in March 2011, when he again met with high-ranking European Parliament and OSCE officials. These meetings provided the UWC President with the opportunity to raise a number of issues concerning Ukraine’s European integration, the violation of fundamental rights and freedoms in Ukraine and the efforts of the Government of Russia to liquidate two Ukrainian NGOs in Russia, the Federal National Cultural Autonomy of Ukrainians of Russia and the Union of Ukrainians in Russia and to shut down the Library of Ukrainian Literature in Moscow. The UWC President also provided information about his meetings with high-ranking government officials of countries where Ukrainians reside, such as the Chairman of the Parliament of Croatia and the Marshal of the Sejm of Poland.
In addition, Eugene Czolij spoke about UWC activities in various spheres aimed at strengthening ties between Ukrainian communities around the world, supporting their interests and protecting their fundamental rights and freedoms. He spoke about UWC’s assistance to Ukrainians in Poland in preparing an appeal to the European Court in the case of “Operation Wisla” and support for the return of the Narodnyi Dim in Przemysl to the Ukrainian community in Poland, which finally occurred on March 21, 2011. He spoke about UWC’s efforts to protect the rights and national interests of Ukrainians in Russia, UWC’s appeal to the Prime Minister of Hungary for a review of the National Ukrainian Minority Self-Government electoral process and UWC’s financial support for the development of Ukrainian communities in Europe.
At the end of the meeting, the UWC President called on everyone present to be active in Ukrainian community life for the good of Ukrainians in the diaspora and Ukraine. Eugene Czolij then answered questions from the audience.