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Ukrainian World Congress Summit: strategic meetings and discussions for Victory

#UWC news
April 19,2024 772
Ukrainian World Congress Summit: strategic meetings and discussions for Victory

On April 12-15, the Ukrainian World Congress held a Summit in Bucharest, drawing over 200 leaders and representatives from Ukrainian communities across 55 countries and five continents. The objective of the Summit was to develop strategies that would enhance support for Ukraine and safeguard its interests amid unparalleled security and existential threats.

“Our three priorities are to help Ukraine achieve victory, rebuild Ukraine, and a strong global Ukrainian community. All of our projects discussed at the Summit – whether it is the confiscation of Russian assets, increased military assistance or humanitarian aid – are aligned at every level with these three priorities of the UWC,” stated UWC President Paul Grod.

Paul Grod’s address to the Summit’s participants

The Summit commenced on April 12 with a tribute honoring the memory of fallen Ukrainian defenders. Dignitaries from the Ukrainian and Romanian governments, along with international experts, honorary guests, partners, supporters, and friends of the UWC, attended the opening ceremony. The opening remarks were delivered by Paul Grod, President of the Ukrainian World Congress; Mykola-Myroslav Petretskyi, UWC Vice President for Eastern Europe; Victor Opaschi, State Counselor – Office of the Prime Minister; Luminita-Teodora Odobescu, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Romania; Major General Gabriel Anghel, Advisor to the Minister of National Defense of Romania; Ihor Prokopchuk, Ambassador of Ukraine to Romania; Gavin Buchan, Ambassador of Canada to Romania; Mariana Betsa, the Ambassador-at-Large for Global Ukrainian Community at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Luminita-Teodora Odobescu, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Romania

On the opening day of the Ukrainian World Congress Summit, the Award Ceremony for the St. Volodymyr the Great Medal – the Ukrainian World Congress’s most prestigious Award – was held.

The ceremony of awarding the St. Volodymyr the Great Medal

On April 13, the second day of the Summit kicked off with a panel titled “Unity and Strength of Ukrainian Communities – The Key to Strong Success.” The session, moderated by Jaroszlava Hartyányi, UWC Second Vice President and President of the World Federation of Ukrainian Women’s Organizations, covered a range of topics. Participants discussed how to integrate Ukrainian migrants into communities, strategies for encouraging their return to Ukraine, methods to counteract Russian influence, and approaches to foster a youth movement within the diaspora.

The “Unity and Strength of Ukrainian Communities – The Key to Strong Success” panel

During a session led by Pavlo Sadokha, UWC Vice President for Southern Europe, participants discussed strategies to combat Russian propaganda and methods to counter the influence of the “Russkiy Mir”.

Oles Horodetskyy and Pavlo Sadokha

A panel discussion led by UWC Second Vice President Jaroszlava Hartyányi delved into strategies for supporting war refugees, facilitating their integration into local Ukrainian communities, and advocating for policies that encourage their return to Ukraine.

“The priority of the Ukrainian state is to have Ukrainians return, but we need to create conditions for return, adaptation and reintegration,” said Mariana Betsa, the Ambassador-at-Large for Global Ukrainian Community at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. 

“Each day, we need to establish a plan for how we can help and motivate our governments to do the same,” emphasized Jaroszlava Hartyányi. 

UWC Second Vice President Jaroszlava Hartyányi

The youth movement in the diaspora was another topic discussed during the UWC Summit. President of the National Congress of Ukrainians in Moldova Dmitrii Lecartev moderated the discussion.

The discussion on the youth movement in the diaspora

The second panel discussion on education centered on preserving Ukrainian identity abroad through partnerships with Ukrainian schools. Participants explored the vital role of Ukrainian studies schools outside of Ukraine in maintaining national identity, as well as the challenges and opportunities facing Ukrainian education in the diaspora. They also discussed strategies and methods to address educational challenges and introduced new initiatives aimed at advancing Ukrainian education globally. The session was moderated by UWC Vice President for Oceania and Asia, Nataliya Poshyvaylo-Towler.

Lyuba Lyubchyk, Chair of the UWC International Educational Coordinating Council (IECC), led a discussion on strategies for overcoming contemporary challenges. Participants explored various educational practices and initiatives during the session.

Pavlo Sadokha, UWC Vice President for Southern Europe, moderated a discussion on Ukrainian education, focusing on returning to Ukraine and addressing educational setbacks. Nataliya Poshyvaylo-Towler led another discussion highlighting successful examples of Ukrainian schools abroad, as well as strategies for expanding and integrating students into existing Ukrainian educational institutions.

Lyuba Lyubchyk, Chair of the UWC International Educational Coordinating Council (IECC)

The third panel of the summit, titled “Advocacy in Support of Ukraine,” explored practical advocacy tools used in various regions worldwide and examined successful advocacy cases across different communities.

Panel on advocacy work in support of Ukraine

A session led by Igor Chocholak, head of the Association of Ukrainians in Belgium, focused on how to influence governments through public actions and the media.

Panelists on influencing governments through public action and media

Additionally, Zenon Kowal, a UWC Executive Committee Member from the European Congress of Ukrainians, moderated a panel discussing the use of advocacy tools in different regions and the opportunities available to communities within a constrained advocacy environment. 

“I believe that in the conditions and circumstances of the countries of the Middle East and Central Asia and other regions with similar constraints, the priority of advocacy should be our own strengthening of information campaigns to convey the Ukrainian perspective to our societies,” stated Yevheniy Semenov, UWC Vice President, Middle East and Central Asia. 

The Summit participants

At the UWC Summit’s panel discussion focusing on Ukraine’s integration into NATO, experts agreed that NATO member states should invite Ukraine to join the Alliance during the upcoming summit in Washington in July 2024. While an invitation would not guarantee immediate membership, it would clearly demonstrate the West’s strong support for Ukraine and its commitment to maintaining global peace, countering any potential escalation into a global conflict.

The discussion featured insights from Kurt Volker, former U.S. Special Representative for Ukraine Negotiations; Peter Van Praagh, President of the Halifax International Security Forum; and Yevhen Perebyinis, Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs of Ukraine. Paul Grod, President of the Ukrainian World Congress, moderated the session.

Paul Grod

How can the UWC bring Ukraine’s Victory closer? This question was at the heart of discussions during the UWC Summit held in Bucharest. The Unite With Ukraine initiative, known for its consistent support to Ukraine’s defenders, was showcased for its contributions over the past two years.

The UWC President revealed that funding for three armored ambulances had been secured – courtesy of an anonymous benefactor – to facilitate medical evacuations for the paramedics of the Donetsk National Police. Furthermore, Paul Grod honored the paramedics Illia Petrenko and Oleksandr Savenko from the Donetsk police with UWC honorary awards. The paramedics reciprocated by bestowing their unit’s flag upon the UWC. 

“This is a unique unit that emerged during a full-scale invasion and will go down in Ukrainian history as police officers who save lives,” commented the brave paramedics on the gifted flag.

Paul Grod, Illia Petrenko, and Oleksandr Savenko

UWC’s Unite with Ukraine initiative director Andrew Potichnyj led the discussion on assisting Ukraine through military support. During the session, Jarema Polatajko, Chief Financial Officer of the Australian Federation of Ukrainian Organisations (AFUO), received an honorary mention for raising funds for 96 FPV drones for the 125th separate brigade of the Territorial Defence Forces of the Armed Forces of Ukraine.

Jarema Polatajko and the Ukrainian defender 

Mykola-Myroslav Petretskyi, UWC Vice President for Eastern Europe and President of the Union of Ukrainians in Romania, Jorge Danylyshyn, UWC Vice President for South and Central America, and Olena Kotseva, President of the Association of Ukrainian Organizations in Bulgaria “Mother Ukraine,” shared their experience in raising humanitarian support and funds during an expert session on assistance to Ukraine. Roman Mykytenko, UWC Vice President for Northern Europe, moderated the discussion.

Participants of the panel on attracting humanitarian support and funds

Eugene Czolij, UWC President (2008-2018), moderated a discussion on confiscating and transferring frozen Russian assets abroad to Ukraine.

“There are no longer any legal discussions on ways to confiscate Russian assets; the problem lies in the political decisions of Western countries. The assets of the aggressor state must be seized now, during the war, because it may be too late later,” emphasized panelist Yulia Ziskina, a senior lawyer at the NGO “Together for Ukraine.”

Yulia Ziskina, a senior lawyer at the NGO “Together for Ukraine”, during the panel

The discussion on rebuilding Ukraine during and after the victory was moderated by Zenon Potoczny, UWC Vice President, Operations. The UWC project Energize Ukraine was presented by Yarema Kovaliv, the initiative’s Director. Oleksandra Azarkhina, Deputy Minister of Infrastructure of Ukraine, spoke about the urgent need to restore energy infrastructure.

On the event’s third day, an expert panel delved into strengthening unity and cooperation within the global network of Ukrainian communities. The discussion centered on methods to unify the various Ukrainian communities worldwide under the umbrella of the UWC and its member organizations. Additionally, the panel explored interactions with UWC partners and other institutions in this context.

The discussion, moderated by Stefan Romaniw, Co-Chair of the Australian Federation of Ukrainian Organisations (AUOA) and UWC Vice President, featured an extensive panel of distinguished guests. Participants included Mariana Betsa, the Ambassador-at-Large for Global Ukrainian Community at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs; Yevgeniya Petrova, UWC Community Relations Manager; Nataliya Poshyvaylo-Towler, UWC Vice President for Oceania and Asia; Demyan Hyworon, Board Member of the Ukrainian Canadian Congress; Dr Mariya Dmytriv Kapeniak, President of the Ukrainian Congress Committee of America Illinois Division; Vasyl Hutsul, Chairman of the Board of the Association of Ukrainians in Finland; and Alexandra Melkonyan, Chair at Foundation for the Ukrainian Community of Malta. 

Panelists on strengthening unity and cooperation among the global network of Ukrainian communities

The final session summarized the outcomes of the Summit, with UWC President Paul Grod and UWC Vice President Stefan Romaniw leading the discussion.

Paul Grod and Mykola-Myroslav Petretskyi

A warm and sincere atmosphere prevailed at the UWC leaders’ meeting with the Bucharest branch of the Union of Ukrainians in Romania at the end of the UWC Summit in Bucharest.  During this meeting, the UWC leaders commended the exceptional organizational abilities of the UUR leadership and acknowledged the Ukrainian community in Romania as the most influential in its region.