Cooperation in the Central and Eastern Europe – the Role of Regions in the Building of Mutual Relations (report)

The discussion panel was preceded by the presentation of the Regional Development North-East Agency from Romania and the presentation of the agency’s catalogue of activities was made by Robert Cotuna, expert in the Private Investment Office.

During the discussion, the panellists tried to answer the question, what factors facilitate, and what hinders cross-border cooperation and on what should be payed special attention in building mutual relations. There is no doubt that close cooperation and good neighbour relations are in interest of Central and Eastern Europe countries. Common, coordinated actions are especially important for border regions, which was emphasized by all panellists. Involvement in cross-borders projects, exchange of views and experiences significantly affect the development of these areas, also increasing their investment attractiveness.

The panel was attended by:

Cezar Grozavu, executive director, Regional Bureau for Cross-border Cooperation Romania-Ukraine, Romania,

Leszek Buller, director of the Centre for European Projects, Poland,

Tomasz Jędrzejewski, deputy head, Joint Technical Secretariat of Cross-Border Program 2014-2020 Poland-Belarus-Ukraine, Poland,

Nataliya Dotsenko, chairwoman  of the Ukrainian Regional Association in East Czech, Czech Republic,

Oksana Yurynets, MP, Verkhovna Rada, Ukraine,

Martin Reuther, expert on development cooperation of the cities of Darmstadt-Uzhgorod, City Council, city of Uzhgorod, Germany

and Adam Hamryszczak, Undersecretary of State, Ministry of Investment and Development, Poland.

Adam Hamryszczak emphasized that it is worth talking about the programs being implemented and about how cross-border cooperation affects the development of the borderland. Equally valuable is pointing to existing challenges. The Poland-Belarus-Ukraine program with the budget of EUR 183 million under the 2014-2020 perspective can already be called a great successes. It is managed in a model manner – he said. It is enough to mention the development of road infrastructure, activities in the field of culture, health protection, cooperation of services, construction of border crossings. We should treat cross-border programs with due respect, Mr Hamryszczak said. Referring to the limitations that have to be faced, he pointed to finances, acknowledging that it is already known today that it will not be possible to realize all the ambitions that appear on the border.

Oksana Yurynets talked about the Kyiv-Lviv-Przemyśl initiative, pointing out that it is the success of a group of deputies who contacted the relevant institutions in order to “put this train into motion”. As an example of successes in implementing cross-border programs, she mentioned the achievements of Romania, she also said that for Ukraine, democracy, freedom of speech and human rights are still a priority in all initiatives.

Accepting guests from the West in Ukraine, we want to show them how we change, but we have to change ourselves first and foremost, she concluded.

Referring to Oksana Yurynets’s speech, Cezar Grozavu presented a synthetic film about cross-border cooperation between Romania, Ukraine and Moldova and announced the introduction of a new bilateral program between Romania and Ukraine.

Martin Reuther pointed to the importance of promotion in Ukraine in border regions.

Visiting neighbors should become something ordinary. Most Germans have very little knowledge about Ukraine and there is need to work to change it. Ukraine also needs good, clerical staff working locally, he said.