TORONTO – Continuing his visits to Ukrainian diaspora communities, Ukrainian World Congress President Eugene Czolij, visited Latvia on December 2-4, 2017, on the invitation of three UWC member organizations, the Union of Ukrainian Associations in Latvia, the Dnipro Ukrainian Cultural and Educational Society in Latvia and the Congress of Ukrainians in Latvia.
The aim of his working visit to Riga, as well as to other European capitals, was to strengthen cooperation with governing structures and Ukrainian communities in order to promote Ukrainian issues on the international stage.
Prior to his stopover in Latvia, Mr. Czolij visited Ukrainian communities and met with officials in Hungary, Bulgaria, France, Belgium, Croatia, Estonia and the United Kingdom.
Meetings in Latvian capital
In the Latvian capital, during meetings with high-ranking officials, the UWC president expressed gratitude to Latvia for recognizing the Holodomor of 1932-1933 as genocide of the Ukrainian people, for assistance to Ukraine in the battle against Russian aggression, and for humanitarian aid, particularly the medical care and rehabilitation provided to wounded Ukrainian soldiers and care for children whose family members are in the Donbas conflict zone.
Mr. Czolij highlighted the magnitude of the hybrid war of the Russian Federation, which poses a serious threat to both the territorial integrity of Ukraine, and peace and security in the world. He called for the strengthening of sanctions against the Russian Federation until it fully complies with the Minsk agreements and de-occupies Crimea and for the deployment of a U.N. peacekeeping mission to eastern Ukraine and an OSCE monitoring mission to illegally occupied Crimea. Also discussed was the Latvian sanctions act, which provides for measures similar to the Magnitsky act. The UWC president also encouraged support from Latvia for an economic aid package for Ukraine modeled on the Marshall Plan to help overcome the devastating consequences of Russian aggression and to further reforms. Mr. Czolij noted the positive reforms in various spheres of life in Ukraine.
On December 2 Mr. Czolij delivered a keynote address on today’s main priorities of the UWC regarding support for Ukraine and the Ukrainian people during a community event on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the UWC organized by the Dnipro Ukrainian Cultural and Educational Society in Latvia chaired by Ivan Nalivaiko, the Union of Ukrainian Associations in Latvia led by Iryna Dukule and the Congress of Ukrainians in Latvia led by Mikola Pavluks. Guests also had the opportunity to view an exhibit about the history of the UWC.
That day the UWC president visited the Ukrainian booth of the Christmas Market on Unity Square. On December 3 he attended divine liturgy at the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church of the Transfiguration of Our Lord Jesus Christ, after which he spoke to parishioners. He also laid flowers at the monument to Taras Shevchenko. The next day he visited the Riga Ukrainian school, where he met with teachers and students.
Before concluding his visit, the UWC President met with Chargé d’Affaires of the Embassy of Ukraine in Latvia Alisa Podolyak and the Embassy staff, as well as with the ambassadors of the United States and Canada, respectively, Nancy Bikoff Pettit and Alain Hausser. He also met with several members of the Latvian Parliament and government officials.
During his meetings the UWC President was accompanied by officials of the Embassy of Ukraine in Latvia – Chargé d’Affaires Alisa Podolyak and First Secretary Ruslan Tsekov – and Mr. Nalivaiko of the Dnipro Ukrainian Cultural and Educational Society.
Visit to Hungary
The UWC president on November 26-28, 2017, visited Hungary on the invitation of the Association of Ukrainian Culture in Hungary, a UWC member organization. While in Budapest, he discussed with its high-ranking government officials the new law of Ukraine “On Education” and Hungary’s continued support for the European and Euro-Atlantic integration of Ukraine. In addition, he thanked Hungary for recognizing the Holodomor of 1932-1933 as a genocide of the Ukrainian people, being one of the first countries to do so.
On November 26, Mr. Czolij held a community meeting organized by the Ukrainian Cultural Association in Hungary chaired by Jaroszlava Hartyanyi and the Ukrainian Self-Government of Hungary chaired by Yuri Kravchenkol during which he spoke about the main priorities of the Ukrainian diaspora and the UWC. That day he joined the Ukrainian community leadership and the Ambassador of Ukraine to Hungary Liubov Nepop in remembering the victims of the Holodomor by laying flowers at the monument in their honor.
On November 28, Mr. Czolij attended a session of the Parliament of Hungary, where Ms. Hartyanyi, a member of Parliament who is also the UWC’s first vice-president and president of the European Congress of Ukrainians, delivered an address on the 84th anniversary of the Holodomor.
Meetings in Bulgaria
On the invitation of the Maty Ukraiina Association of Ukrainian Organizations in Bulgaria, which is a member organization of the UWC, Mr. Czolij visited Sofia, Bulgaria, on November 24-25 2017.
During meetings with state officials, the UWC president thanked Bulgaria for supporting Ukraine in combating Russian aggression. Citing its upcoming presidency of the Council of the European Union (effective January 1 through June 30, 2018), he encouraged Bulgaria to use its position to renew and strengthen sanctions against the Russian Federation until it fully complies with the Minsk agreements and de-occupies Crimea and eastern Ukraine.
On November 24 Mr. Czolij spoke at a commemorative dinner organized by the Association of Ukrainian Organizations in Bulgaria. The next day he joined the association in honoring the memory of victims of the Holodomor during a requiem service at the Church of the Holy Sunday, Bulgarian Orthodox Patriarchate, celebrated by Father Kyryl Popov.
That same day Mr. Czolij delivered remarks during a screening of a film by director Kostantin Chakyrov about the 1946-1947 Holodomor in Bessarabia, “Pryishla Osin 1946” (Then came Autumn of 1946).
He also joined Ukrainians in Bulgaria in laying a wreath at the Shevchenko monument.
France on the itinerary
November 18-21, 2017, on the invitation of the UWC member organization Representative Committee of the Ukrainian Community in France, the UWC president fulfilled a working visit to Paris and Senlis, France, where he discussed current Ukrainian issues in meetings with high-ranking government officials and Ukrainian communities, and participated in commemorations honoring the memory of victims of the Holodomor of 1932-1933 and marking the 50th anniversary of the UWC.
The UWC president thanked France for supporting Ukraine in defense of its territorial integrity from Russian aggression, especially for its role in the Normandy format negotiations. Mr. Czolij highlighted the importance of joint action by the international community in combating the hybrid war of the Russian Federation, which poses a serious threat for Ukraine, and for peace and security in the entire European region. He particularly called for the strengthening and continuation of existing sanctions against the Russian Federation. He also urged France to support the deployment of an observer mission of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) to illegally occupied Crimea and a U.N. peacekeeping mission to eastern Ukraine, both territories suffering the consequences of the ongoing Russian aggression.
Mr. Czolij also stressed the need to protect the human and civil rights of Ukrainians and Crimean Tatars on the territories currently under control of the Russian Federation, including those of Ukrainian journalist of the Ukrinform news agency in France, Roman Sushchenko.
On November 18, together with the president of the Representative Committee of the Ukrainian Community in France, Tarass Horiszny, the UWC president laid flowers at the memorial plaque in memory of victims of the Holodomor and at the monument to Anna Yaroslavna, queen of France.
Mr. Czolij also attended divine liturgy at Holy Martyrs Borys and Hlib Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church celebrated by Bishop Bohdan Dziurakh, secretary of the Synod of Bishops of the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church, and Bishop Borys Gudziak of St. Volodymyr the Great Eparchy in Paris for Ukrainian Catholics in France, Belgium, Luxembourg and Switzerland.
On this day, on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the UWC, a roundtable was held during which the UWC president delivered a keynote address on the main priorities of the UWC.
On November 19, he participated in a wreath-laying ceremony for the victims of the Holodomor at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and Eternal Flame near the Arc de Triomphe.
He also attended an ecumenical memorial service at Notre-Dame Cathedral in memory of victims of the Holodomor, fallen heroes of the Revolution of Dignity and the war in eastern Ukraine. The requiem mass was celebrated by Bishop Bohdan Dziurakh, Bishop Borys Gudziak, Bishop Denis Jachiet and Father Ivan Radevytch on behalf of Bishop Daniel Zelinsky of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church.
During his visit to France, the UWC president was accompanied by Mr. Horiszny of the Representative Committee of the Ukrainian Community in France, First Secretary of the Embassy of Ukraine in France Serhii Shablii and the director of the UWC Mission to International Organizations in Brussels, Maryna Iaroshevych.
Visit to Belgium
On November 6-8, 2017, Mr. Czolij concluded a working visit to Brussels, Belgium, where he took part in a forum entitled “UWC at 50: European and Euro-Atlantic Forum” and met with high-ranking officials of the European Union, NATO and their member states, as well as Ukraine and Moldova.
During these meetings, the UWC president called for the implementation of the recommendations of the EU-Ukraine Parliamentary Association Committee meeting of September 20, 2017, namely to: a) increase the sanctions against the Russian Federation in response to the steps undertaken by the Russian authorities to integrate the occupied territories of eastern Ukraine into the Russian Federation and in response to the further deterioration of the human rights situation in Crimea; b) support the deployment of a U.N. peacekeeping mission in coordination with Ukrainian authorities with full access to the whole territory of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions of Ukraine, including to the Ukrainian-Russian border as recognized by the international community; c) take measures to terminate the Nord Stream 2 project, which is detrimental to European energy security; and d) support the initiative to establish a broad investment package for Ukraine akin to the Marshall Plan to enhance the adoption of reforms and economic growth.
On November 8, the UWC president addressed a conference of the Atlantic Council titled “Ukraine and the EU: Charting a Path Forward” held at the European Parliament.
Meetings in Croatia
On October 8-9, 2017, Mr. Czolij visited Zagreb, Croatia, where he participated in the state commemoration of Croatian Independence Day, met with Prime Minister Andrej Plenković, Speaker of the Parliament Gordan Jandroković, other high-ranking state officials of Croatia and representatives of municipal structures of Zagreb, and joined the Ukrainian community for a commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the UWC.
During these meetings the UWC president offered congratulations on Croatian Independence Day and encouraged Croatia to support Ukraine in today’s difficult times. He spoke about the need for the international community to counter Russian disinformation and focused attention on the significant reforms in Ukraine that are being realized with the active support of civil society. He also called upon Croatia to recognize the Holodomor of 1932-1933 as genocide of the Ukrainian people.
With municipal authorities of Zagreb Mr. Czolij discussed the importance of securing a center for the Ukrainian community in Croatia from which it can conduct its activities.
On October 8, together with the Ukrainian community and the Attaché for Culture, Diaspora and Media and Third Secretary of the Embassy of Ukraine in Croatia Vita Holets, Mr. Czolij laid wreaths at the monument to Taras Shevchenko, where he delivered an address. He then participated in a 50th anniversary celebration of the UWC at the Kobzar Ukrainian Cultural-Educational Association, where he spoke about the achievements of the UWC and the main objectives of the Ukrainian diaspora led by the UWC.
While in Zagreb, the UWC president and the leaders of the Ukrainian community in Croatia discussed cooperation on issues of mutual interest with diplomatic representatives of Ukraine in Croatia, Chargé d’Affaires Yaroslav Simonov, Defense Attaché Volodymyr Opanasiuk and Third Secretary Holets.
Visit to Estonia
On October 10-11, 2017, Mr. Czolij, on the invitation of the UWC member organization Congress of Ukrainians in Estonia, visited Tallinn, where he discussed continued support for Ukraine during meetings with the Speaker of the Parliament Eiki Nestor and other high-ranking state officials of Estonia, and also participated in the Ukrainian community’s commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the UWC.
He thanked Estonia for its significant support for Ukraine and emphasized the importance of further combating the hybrid war of the Russian Federation. He raised the issue of countering the Russian disinformation campaign that attempts to portray Ukraine as a failed state, and shared information on recent significant reforms in Ukraine.
The UWC president expressed gratitude to Estonia for being the first country to recognize the Holodomor of 1932-1933 as a genocide.
On October 11 in the Parliament of Estonia, he participated in a roundtable discussion on Estonian-Ukrainian relations, and the role of Estonia and the UWC in supporting Ukraine. The discussion was held on the initiative of the head of the Estonia-Ukraine Parliamentary Friendship Group, Johannes Kert
On October 10, Mr. Czolij joined the Ukrainian community led by Congress of Ukrainians in Estonia President Vira Konyk in a commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the UWC at which he delivered the keynote address. He presented UWC certificates of recognition to Ukrainian associations, groups and activists, and the Estonian volunteer organizations Vaba Ukraina (Free Ukraine), Моndo, portal Uudised Ukrainast (“News from Ukraine”) and participants of numerous pickets in support of Ukraine against Russian aggression that have been ongoing in Tallinn for three years.
To official meetings the UWC President was accompanied by Chargé d’Affaires ad interim of Ukraine to Estonia Vasyl Yakovenko, Ms. Konyk of the Congress of Ukrainians in Estonia and Ms. Iaroshevych.
Working visit to the U.K.
At the invitation of the UWC member organization the Association of Ukrainians in Great Britain, the UWC leader on October 12-15, 2017, traveled on a working visit to London and Manchester to discuss current Ukrainian issues during meetings with government officials, civil society representatives and Ukrainian communities, and also to take part in the commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the UWC.
During his meetings, the UWC President thanked the U.K. for helping Ukraine protect its territorial integrity and called for official recognition of the Holodomor as a genocide of the Ukrainian people.
On October 14, he attended a concert in Manchester organized by the Association of Ukrainians in Great Britain, chaired by Petro Rewko, which was organized in commemoration of the UWC’s 50th anniversary. In his speech, Mr. Czolij addressed the gathering and presented long-standing activists of the Ukrainian community with certificates of recognition.
Throughout his stay in the United Kingdom, the UWC President was accompanied by Bohdan Terlecky, member of the board of the Association of Ukrainians in Great Britain.