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7 (2014)
Tunnelling Towards Hope


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28 February - 6 March 2014

Ukraine History

A Stronghold of Rulers and Rebels

With the recent death toll jumping to nearly 100 and 1,000 injured, Hrushevskoho Street, one of the strongholds of EuroMaidans three-month-long protests, made headlines around the globe. It was here, on 19 January the countrys stand against government corruption, abuse of power, and the violation of human rights turned from peaceful protest to all-out revolution. Having witnessed much over the years, Hrushevskoho is a street with a history, and not only care of recent days.

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Ukraine Today
Acelebrity using their status and intelligence to influence public views and opinion is rarely seen in modern society, even less so in Ukraine. Here, the majority of celebs use their time, effort, and money to enhance or further their career rather than put their name to something that can do good for others. However, as EuroMaidan intensifies, some are making themselves heard and they fall either side of the EuroMaidan divide.
It used to be that when rebellion and revolution occurred, the intellectual, creative, and spiritual elite would be front and centre.

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Ukrainian Culture

When Walls Can Talk

People have been writing on walls since the dawn of civilisation, we call it graffiti, and ranges from simple written words to elaborate wall paintings. Sometimes it is merely the creator wanting to leave his or her mark; sometimes there is an underlying social or political reason. And it is due to the latter that graffiti has exploded across Kyiv in recent months. Anti dictator messages aside, we peel back a few layers of paint to look at graffiti in the city in general.

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Ukraine Today

Europe Day The EU and Ukraine

The big Europe Day celebrations are taking place in Kyiv on 11 May before heading on to Odessa on the 14th and Donetsk on the 17th. As usual, there will be a lot to see and do, and the day will finish with a big concert on Maidan with some excellent bands performing. This week we caught up with Dirk Schuebel, Head of the Political, Press and Information Section of the EC Delegation here in Ukraine, to find out whats happening, what its all about, and how EUUkraine relations are progressing.


Europe Day will be celebrated in Kyiv on 11 May. What have you got planned this year?
This will be the sixth year we are celebrating Europe Day in Ukraine, and we are really proud that weve kept this tradition going for such a long time. Every year we introduce some new elements, but we of course try to keep the traditional elements too. This year once again we have a big European village on Kreschatyk which will open at 11.00 in the morning. There will be more than 40 tents, with 28 member states and candidate countries of the EU and Ukraine represented. They will be presenting their national features, traditions, culture and language. This will be followed by the welcoming ceremony where the ambassadors of the member states and candidate countries and government representatives of Ukraine will officially open Europe Day 2008. Then there will be the usual rock concert, and this year we have a great band from Italy called Vanilla Sky coming to play along with InCulto from Lithuania. And our old friend Oleg Skrypka and his band VV will be there too, which is always a pleasure.

 What is the purpose of Europe Day, and what do you hope to achieve?
The idea for Europe Day goes way back to 9 May 1950 and the so-called Schuman Declaration. It was on that day the then Minister of Foreign Affairs of France, Robert Schuman, announced in a speech that the coal and steel sectors of both France and Western Germany, as it was then, should be under joint control in order to launch a new, peaceful and progressive Europe after World War II. This declaration is considered to be the beginning of the European UNI0N, because only one year later the European Coal and Steel Community was founded with six member states. The ECSC was one of the founding organisations of the European Community. 35 years later, in 1985, at the European summit in Milan, it was decided to celebrate Europe Day every year on 9 May in memory of Schumans speech, and it has been an official celebration ever since. We introduced this in Ukraine for the first time six years ago, because we wanted to celebrate this day with our Ukrainian friends, and it has proved very successful. The idea is to show what we call Europes Unity in Diversity and to allow the different countries of Europe to show their cultural heritage, and to celebrate this with Ukrainians, who are of course Europeans themselves. We offer a cultural exchange between member states and Ukraine, not just in Kyiv but in other towns throughout Ukraine, many of which organise their own Europe Day celebrations. We not only want to present our values and cultures but also our different languages, and this year as in previous years - people will have the chance to learn some words in one of the many Europe has to offer, so if you want to learn some Lithuanian, Portuguese or Spanish, among many other languages, you can. There will be two language schools in Kyiv this year. There will also be a Food Corner where you can sample different cuisines from across the EU. So we are not just presenting our values, but how we live as well. On top of all this there will also be two discussion tents, one on economics and one on politics. One of the topics which I am sure will be of great interest to Ukrainian citizens is the new visa facilitation regime.

 What is the current situation regarding Ukraines cooperation with the EU?
We are progressing steadily. We have just published our progress report on the implementation of the EU-Ukraine Action Plan. It takes stock of what has been achieved in the three years since the action plan was introduced. Ukraine has achieved a lot, and is certainly one of the front-runners in the European Neighbourhood Policy. All the achievements gained through the Action Plan have had a very positive effect on the general approximation process of Ukraine towards the EU.

 You mentioned the new visa facilitation system which was introduced in January of this year. How is that going?
The new agreement has made it easier for Ukrainian citizens to travel to Europe. We had the first meeting of the joint implementation committee on 9 April here in Kyiv, where experts from the European Commission discussed with the Ukrainian authorities in the presence of member states representatives how the first three months of the new system have worked, and I think we can draw positive conclusions. Of course, there are a few elements that need to be looked at, but in general terms, the implementation works well and there havent been any major hiccups.

 How are the free trade agreement discussions going between Ukraine and the EU?
Negotiations on a free trade agreement are part of the negotiations on a broader enhanced agreement. We have been working on this process for over a year now, but the working group dealing with the free trade agreement could only commence talks after the negotiations on Ukraines accession to the WTO had been finalised. This was the case in early February, and our Commissioner for Trade, Peter Mandelson, came to Kyiv to launch the negotiations on the free trade agreement officially just two weeks later. On 22 and 23 April, the second round of negotiations took place in Brussels, and there will be another round of negotiations in June here in Kyiv, so we can say things are advancing well, but it is still very early days.

 How long will negotiations on a free trade agreement take to complete?
That is the one million dollar question. It is very difficult to tell how long the process will take. Some Ukrainian politicians have

 Negotiations on a common aviation area between Ukraine and the EU commenced earlier this year, and we hope that these will be finalised by the end of 2008

 the ambitious aim that the negotiations should be finalised before the end of the year, but I think this will be very difficult to achieve. However, if both sides remain committed and there are no major unforeseen hurdles to overcome, then a reasonable timescale would be for negotiations to be finalised at the end of 2009 or in 2010.

 One thing thats been talked about a lot recently is budget airlines coming to Ukraine, but that cant happen at the moment because there is no open skies policy in Ukraine. Is this part of a free trade agreement, or a completely separate issue?
In general terms, the opening up of the Ukrainian aviation market can only be welcomed as it will give consumers more options when travelling and it is also likely to reduce prices, which is of course a positive thing. Negotiations on a common aviation area between Ukraine and the EU are also ongoing. We launched these negotiations earlier this year and we hope that these will be finalised by the end of 2008, and this will make the Ukrainian aviation sector approximate even more closely with that of the EU.

 Ukraine fully participates in Europe Day, and the enhanced agreement is progressing well. Once completed, will the next stage be full EU membership for Ukraine?
Another million dollar question. We are well on the way to bringing Ukraine closer to the EU. Ukraine is putting in a lot of effort itself and we are happy to help. The task we are focusing on at the moment is bringing Ukraine to the door of Europe. The conclusion of the Enhanced Agreement will be a big step towards achieving this objective.

 Neil Campbell


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Read also:
  • Nebesna Sotnya
  • Darkness, Flames and The Screams of My Soul
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  • EuroMaidan Celebrities Weigh In
  • Pro and Anti

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    Ukraine Truth
    Rights We Didnt Know We Had

    Throughout EuroMaidan much has been made of Ukrainians making a stand for their rights. What exactly those rights are were never clearly defined. Ukraine ratified the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1952. The first article of the Declaration states all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights, they are endowed with reason and conscience, and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood. The ousted and overthrown Ukrainian government showed to the world they dont understand the meaning of these words.


    Kyiv Culture

    Pulling Strings
    Located on Hrushevskoho Street the epicentre of EuroMaidan violence, home to battles, blazes and barricades childrens favourite the Academic Puppet Theatre had to shut down in February. Nevertheless, it is getting ready to reopen this March with a renewed repertoire to bring some laughter back to a scene of tragedy. Operating (not manipulating) puppets is a subtle art that can make kids laugh and adults cry. Whats On meets Mykola Petrenko, art director of the Theatre, to learn more about those who pull the strings behind the show.

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