JCU Hosts Conference "Europe and Ukraine after the May 25th Election"

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The Aula Magna Regina hosted the conference Europe and Ukraine after the May 25th Election. Starting with a brief presentation on the reason and the topic that has dealt with in the conference, Professor Federigo Argentieri, director of the Guarini Institute for Public Affairs, introduced the speakers and experts of the discussion: Helen Viola, Giornale Radio Rai-Foreign Desk, Mykola Riabchuk, Co-Editor of “Krytyka” Kyiv, Andrew Wilson of University College London, and Damir Grubiša, ambassador of Croatia to Italy.

The conference was led by Helen Viola, as a moderator, who asked a specific question about Europe and Ukraine to each speaker. The first question that opened the discussion was posed to Riabchuk regarding the nature of the Ukrainian crisis after the election, and the social and political atmosphere and changes in this moment. Riabchuk explained that the best way to answer this question is to understand clearly the Ukrainian events, so that he analyzed European and Ukrainian status since 1989 in order to point out the developments of Europe after the revolution. Each European country after 1989 wanted to establish and promote moral principles defending human rights due to the dissatisfy level of life and poverty spread out after the WWII. Speaking about Ukraine in particular, Riabchuk reflected that in 1991 a new president had been elected in Ukraine, the first time in the history of the country, and the 1/3 of people voted for an anti-communist president and the 2/3 for the communist party.

On the contrary, in the election of 2004, the majority of people voted for an anti-soviet (anti-communist) representative. Riabchuk explained this radical change in thirty years, considering aspects of age, education, social developments that deeply modified Ukrainian society. The Ukrainian contemporary situation seems to be different; Ukraine wants to be part of the European Union, but the Russian invasion still may happen as well as a treat of oligarchic system that wants to control Ukrainian policy. Riabchuk ended up stating that Ukraine can develop its social and political growth by reforming new institutions, which should carry out new reforms cleaning up the country by terrorists who have to be expelled.

The second question that Viola posed to Grubiša was on the thoughts and interventions of U.S in the Ukrainian crisis. Grubiša answered presenting two cases that involved not only U.S diplomacy, but also European intervention. First, American did not recognize the very cause and reason of the conflict with Russia and Serbia; second even European Union took a wrong decision and had a wrong approach toward Ukrainian crisis. The nature of the country has been the fight for power, and all of these forces opposed themselves to the progress and democratic development in order to create a new society. Grubiša talked about the political phenomenon of nationalism, which spread out after the 1970s; nationalism should have been a right approach to reinforce peace and independence against the dictatorship, but it caused another form of nationalism against the “positive” previous form of nationalism that led to internal wars.

The third question was to Wilson about the future of Ukraine, its integration and the matter of territorial integrity. Wilson stated that the problem of Ukraine nowadays is the group of politicians who are not trusty, and the weakness of institution that should have recreated. However, Wilson talked about a positive analysis of Ukrainian economic growth and that it has been developing well to enrich the prestigious position of Ukraine in Europe. Regarding the reasons of which European Union wants Ukraine in the federation, Grubiša pointed out what EU should guarantee to Ukraine: independence, integration in economy of EU (energetic sustainability), freedom form populism, corruption and manipulation.

After the speakers’ answers to Viola’s questions, the discussion shifted giving the opportunity to the audience to intervene. Several students and experts asked questions and pointed out their statements and opinions about the Ukrainian and European relation. One important question posed by a JCU’s student was about what is the EU’s interest in getting Ukraine into the union; at this question answered immediately Professor Argentieri who explained very clearly the EU position regarding Ukraine. Argentieri highlighted that the EU’s interest not only consists in an economic issue, but the main purpose is political in order to end the war between France and Germany, the Franco-German coal and steel dispute. Therefore Ukraine is an instrument to achieve this political stability. Moreover, Riabchuk added that for the Ukrainian point of view its entrance into the EU can help Europe in terms of resources and lands, providing a class of educated people.

After a series of questions about relations among Russia, U.S., Europe and Ukraine, the discussion ended up with Viola’s last question about the possibility of an intervention of EU much more active in order to solve and to preserve Ukraine to Russian invasion. Argentieri concluded the discussion stating that Russia’s prospection of invasion is serious and tragic, quoting a Bismarck’s statement regarding Russia which says “Russia has always been monitored”; however, he posed the question “Can Russia really invade Ukraine?”, at this he answered that it is not quite possible because Russia cannot afford it, and all the speakers agreed with him.

The conference earned a positive outcome among students from John Cabot and from other American universities abroad. Many participants attended the discussion, which has been interesting and well conducted by the mediator Helen Viola and the clear explanation of Riabchuk as a direct testimony of Ukrainian social and political situation, Wilson as a research and expert in the economic field and Grubiša as the ambassador and expert in the political and historical events of Ukraine.