BERLIN – On September 6-8 at Berlin City Hall in Germany, the Ukrainian World Congress (UWC) held its annual general meeting (AGM), reviewing the organization’s work since November 2018 and developing an action plan for the year ahead.
Participants of the AGM from over 20 countries gathered in Berlin to support the more than 100,000 strong Ukrainian community in Germany, and to focus the attention of German high-ranking officials and civil society on current Ukrainian issues, including the importance of consolidating action in the war with Russian hybrid aggression and the recent release of Ukrainian political prisoners, whose return to Ukraine on September 7 was welcomed by the delegates and guests of the AGM.
During the official opening of the meeting, the UWC recognized German politician and former Member of European Parliament Rebecca Harms for her support of Ukraine. She was awarded the UWC’s highest honor, the St. Volodymyr the Great Medal. The UWC also expressed gratitude with certificates of acknowledgement presented to representatives of German civil society and members of the Ukrainian community in Germany, including Ludmila Mlosch, president of the Central Union of Ukrainians in Germany, and Rostyslav Sukennyk, president of the Association of Ukrainian Organizations in Germany, for assisting with the organization of the AGM in Germany.
Over three days, participants of the AGM had the opportunity to hear reports from UWC President Paul Grod and the UWC leadership, and to discuss issues of concern for Ukrainians in the diaspora during six roundtables: “Development, coordination and structuring of Ukrainian communities in the world”; “Means of cooperation between Ukraine and the diaspora under new circumstances. Defending the interests of Ukraine globally – on the path to the EU and NATO”; “Shaping the self-identification of Ukrainian youth in the diaspora”; “Substantial extension of the rights of Ukrainians living outside Ukraine – creating favorable conditions for their return and strengthening relations with Ukraine”; “The unifying role of Ukrainian Churches and the importance of their recognition in ecumenical structures”; and “UWC strategy for international recognition of the Holodomor as genocide of the Ukrainian people.”
Delegates resolutely condemned the Russian Federation for its hybrid war against Ukraine and its illegal imprisonment of Ukrainian political prisoners, and called upon the international community to continue supporting the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine, significantly strengthen sanctions against the Russian Federation for violating the international order, and increase lethal weapons and military support to Ukraine.
The UWC AGM welcomed Ukraine’s strategic course toward European and Euro-Atlantic integration, and called upon the European Union and NATO to expedite Ukraine’s full membership.
“The UWC AGM strongly condemned the decision of the Russian Federation to declare the UWC an unwanted organization and resolved to take the issue to relevant international courts,” stated President Grod.
He also stated: “UWC AGM participants call upon the president, government and Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine to protect and develop the Ukrainian language, traditions, culture and history as the foundation for uniting and developing the Ukrainian state and the global Ukrainian community.”
In the framework of the AGM, the UWC leadership met with leaders of the Association of Ukrainian Organizations in Germany and Central Union of Ukrainians in Germany to discuss effective means of cooperation and strengthening community unity and influence on German governing structures on issues of common interest.
Ukrainian Day in Berlin
On September 9, the UWC leadership held its first Ukrainian Day in Berlin during which a series of meetings took place with members of the German Bundestag and government officials to discuss continued support for Ukraine in the struggle against Russian aggression.
Prior to the meetings, a briefing was held at the Embassy of Ukraine in Germany during which Ukraine’s Ambassador to Germany Andriy Melnyk, UWC President Grod, and Members of the Verkhovna Rada Ivanna Klympush-Tsintsadze and Ivan Krulko presented their perspective on continued support for Ukraine.
In particular, they underscored that Germany is a key partner for Ukraine in the defense of its territorial integrity and aspiration to become an integral part of the European and Euro-Atlantic communities. Following the briefing, working groups of delegates discussed practical ways to present current Ukrainian issues both to governments in the countries of their residence and internationally.
Throughout the day Mr. Grod, Stefan Romaniw and Andriy Futey of the UWC, as well as Ambassador Melnyk, Ms. Klympush-Tsintsadze and Mr. Krulko from Ukraine, met with Member of the Bundestag and Coordinator for Intersocietal Cooperation with Russia, Central Asia and the Eastern Partnership Countries Dirk Wiese; Deputy Chair of the Committee on Foreign Affairs in the Bundestag Johannes Schraps; Member of the Bundestag Marieluise Beck; Director for Eastern Europe, Russia, Southern Caucasus and Central Asia of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Germany Michael Siebert; Foreign Policy Adviser to the German Chancellor Matthias Lüttenberg; Chairman of the German-Ukrainian Parliamentary Friendship Group in the Bundestag, Member of the Committee on Foreign Affairs Omid Nouripour; AfD (Alternative for Germany party) spokesman on the Petitions Committee Johannes Huber; and Bertelsmann Foundation Senior Expert for Eastern Europe Miriam Kosmehl. The president of the Association of Ukrainian Organizations in Germany, Mr. Sukennyk, also participated in individual meetings.
The meetings focused on priority issues, including defense of Ukraine’s territorial integrity and the de-occupation of Crimea and the Donbas; strengthening of sanctions against Russia for its military aggression against Ukraine; stopping the Russian Nord Stream 2 project; release of Ukrainian political prisoners and hostages being detained by Russia; and support for Ukraine’s European integration, Euro-Atlantic course and fundamental reforms.
Also discussed was the need to raise awareness of the Holodomor of 1932-1933 among Bundestag members as another step toward achieving recognition of this crime as genocide committed against the Ukrainian people.
“During the UWC’s advocacy day in Berlin, we better understood the significance of Germany’s influence within the European Union and commitment to Ukraine,” Mr. Grod commented. “The UWC intends to organize similar advocacy days in most major capitals around the world with the expectation that new communities will learn and continue these efforts for months and years to come.”