How Can the International Community Help Ukraine?

Ukraine is fighting against Russian aggression in east and south, while trying to stop economic crisis. The authorities in Kiev has many times emphasized that they cannot meet these difficult challenges. They call on the international community for support. What kind of assistance does Kiev expect from the world? What support can it expect? How did international subsidies help to stabilise Ukrainian economy in 2016? When will the visa-ban for Ukrainian citizens be abolished? Answers to these questions were sought by the speakers in the opening plenary session  of the 10th Europe-Ukraine Forum “How Can the International Community Help Ukraine?” The session was chaired by Bogusław Chrabota, Editor-in-Chief of Rzeszpospolita daily.

Władysław Ortyl, Marshal of the Podkarpackie Region, reminded that Maidan was pro-European, but now Europe turned a little bit away from Ukraine. According to him, both Trump and Putin will weigh on the future of Europe. He added that we cannot look for excuses relying solely on the European Union, but we have to act on our own towards Ukraine’s integration with the EU. “There are some tensions, but it does not affect regional relations. We have very good relationships with Lviv and Ivano-Frankivsk regional councils,” Ortyl stressed. According to Bogusław Chrabota, Ukrainians deserve the visa-free regime and are looking forward to a positive resolution of the matter. Rebecca Harms, Member of the European Parliament, recalled that we have been talking about the abolition of visas for Ukrainians since the first Maidan in 2004. She stressed that she is disappointed that it takes so long. “Today, it is a problem of individual countries in the European Union, not even the Community as a whole,” she said, assuring that visas will be abolished soon, but it is not known when. According to Ms Harms, it is said that Ukrainians themselves are beginning to lose faith in the process of visa liberalisation.

The former Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine, Barys Tarasiuk, pointed out that there currently exists a broad support for European integration in the Ukrainian society. “The migration of Ukrainians to Poland is the result of open borders and democratisation. And it will go on as long as the standard of living in Ukraine is lower than in Poland. It is the same with Poles who move to the West”, the Ukrainian politician explained. At the same time he drew attention to the fact that after the planned abolition of EU visas for Ukrainian citizens, there will be no new wave of migration, “because the abolition of visas does not mean that Ukrainians will be able to work in the European Union”.

“Postponing the decision to abolish the travel visa requirement for Ukrainians is a shame for the European Union” – the former head of the Ukrainian diplomacy declared.

According to the Former Czech Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg, a lot of Ukrainians are working in the Czech Republic. The Czechs sympathise with Ukraine, but there are politicians who prefer Russia nonetheless. “However, Ukraine is still popular in the Czech Republic” – the Czech politician summed up.