In Lviv the European Integration Studies Centre has organized a round-table discussion involving representatives of civil society of Ukraine and Lithuania
On October 24 Lviv hosted a round-table discussion in the topic “European Integration Processes in Ukraine: Involvement of Civil Society Institutes”. The event was organized by the branch of the European Integration Studies Centre in Lviv and the Centre for Civil Initiatives.
Leaders of public organizations, public activists, representatives of students participated in the event. “The European integration of Ukraine aims not only at the implementation of deep structural economic, political, social reforms, but at civil society shaping in its European sense. Therefore, of greatest importance for us is consolidation of efforts of public figures, organizations, movements for the sake of establishing an active civil society that will enable Ukrainians to effectively advocate for their rights, create effective tools of influencing the authorities, decision-making, control the process of reformation and transformations awaiting for Ukraine. That is why our round table aimed to gather the representatives and activities of civil movement from different regions of Ukraine, from west to east, in order to discuss the topical problems of civil sector’s work, share experience and real plans. The aim is to encourage public organizations to share information about their activity and coordinate it with partners, offer their experts, discuss joint opportunities for dissemination of European integration processes in Ukraine, thus developing an active mutual assistance network. Thus, the experience of the Republic of Lithuania constitutes an important experience for us as the experience of a post-Soviet country which successfully got back to a common European family and made Lithuanian voice heard in Europe”, - states the head of the European Integration Studies Centre project in Ukraine Beatrice Beliavciv.
Director of RESC Kristina Vaiciunaite (the Republic of Lithuania), the President of Donetsk Public Organization “Alliance” Svitlana Zakrevska, director of the European Integration Studies Centre Donetsk Nataliya Kazionnova acted as experts on behalf of the European Integration Studies Centre at the round-table discussion.
In his speech the Lithuanian expert Kristina Vaiciunaite talked about the problems of activity of non-governmental sector in Ukraine relying on Lithuania’s experience in spreading European integration processes in its eastern problematic regions in which the impact of stereotypes spread by Russia is quite strong. Also, the expert has noted that analysis of the problems of activities of their Centre in Belarus, Moldova, Georgia, Ukraine obviously shows that all the post-Soviet countries which are not the countries of the EU Eastern Partnership require activation and harmonization of public sector’s activity. “Civil society must be changing together with the country during reformation and European integration processes. One should realize that civil society does not pose an opposition to the authority, but rather is authority in itself, and it is the public sector that has to take an active part in bringing about democratic changes. Democracy is the process that depends on each and every individual. And it is very complicated to realize that, but this should be done. And it is then that we become partners of our state in reforms implementation”, - emphasized RESC’s director.
In her turn, the President of Donetsk Public Organization “Alliance” Svitlana Zakrevska presented her view of the European integration in eastern regions. “Our organization has been dealing with the topic of European integration since 2007. We’ve had a number of interesting projects aimed at joining the European society, and cooperated with different target groups. Since our first steps we faced non-acceptance of the European values and the very idea of European integration. But gradually the attitude started to be changed, and, under a survey held in March 2014, already 20% residents definitely support the idea of European integration. Still, there are stable myths and stereotypes relating to the EU in the society, they are imposed by the Russian propaganda. Among them there could be singled out complete absence of tolerance to the opinions of others, non-acceptance of new information due to isolation of the residents of the east. Also, in their minds they have a wrong idea about the European values, the problem of sexual minorities, the attitude of the Europeans to faith and spirituality. We are in for a serious work with the conscience of our residents in both liberated and temporarily occupied Donbas territories”, - thinks the expert from Donetsk.
In her report the director of the branch of European Integration Studies Centre Donetsk Nataliya Kazionnova stressed that the main victory Ukraine can now gain on its way towards European integration is the victory in the conscience of residents in the south east of the country. “When we just launched the European Integration Studies Centre in Ukraine, we worked with certain target groups – academic circles, students, public sector. But later we came to realize that it is necessary to work with the general public. Since 2009 we started cooperating with TV channels of different regions of Ukraine that created a range of special European integration plots and TV programs. Even this year, in war conditions, the European Integration Studies Centre in Ukraine has created a TV program for eastern regions in which we emphasized the advantages to be brought by the European integration to the Ukrainian society and Donbas. It is only in this way that, gradually providing clarifications and carrying out some awareness-raising work, we could dispel the myths and stereotypes imposed by the Russian propaganda and gain a victory in the conscience of the residents of the east. Since there is a bright example – Lithuania which passed the way from the post-Soviet country to the EU Member State”, - summarized Nataliya Kazionnova.
After the round-table discussion there was a debate in which there participated those present at the event. Practical aspects of the Lithuanian European integration experience, the present of the Lithuanian public sector, project activity, cooperation with authorities, etc. evoked a great interest among the representatives of the public.
The European Integration Studies Centre project is sponsored by the Lithuanian Development Cooperation under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Lithuania.
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