“The EU is not only a community of interests but first of all a community of values”, – Jan Tombinski, Ambassador of the European Union in Ukraine, stated at the opening of the Day of Europe in Kyiv. Unlike the EU, Ukraine is officially celebrating it on the third Saturday of May.
This year on May 17 starting at 11 a.m. at the site of the Mystetskiy Arsenal in Kyiv a range of interesting Europe Day events took place. Visitors were invited to learn more about the EU lifestyle at the thematic photo exhibitions, information and interactive zones, game rooms, workshops, and were entertained by performances. The event officially started with greetings from Ukrainian and European officials including the Ambassador of the EU in Ukraine, Jan Tombinski.
Arseniy Yatsenyuk, acting prime minister of Ukraine
Like in the case of Ukraine, people have tried to divide Europe numerous times; however, today Europe is united. Today I am optimistic about the future of our country: together with Europe, Ukraine is going to become even stronger. Ukrainians not only share but also actively implement European values. I sincerely believe in Europe and in Ukraine.
Carl Bildt, Sweden’s minister of foreign affairs
Both presidential elections in Ukraine and European parliamentary elections will take place on May 25. This will pave a new way forward for both Ukraine and the EU and it will be a common path since we face shared problems.
Jan Tombinski, Ambassador of the European Union in Ukraine
The signing of the political provisions of the Association Agreement was an extremely important step and the EU is eager to sign the rest of the provisions as soon as possible. The Association Agreement proposes new perspectives on cooperation between the EU and Ukraine. Additionally, 2014 is a special year for the EU since it has been 10 years since it expanded to the East, which was a vital step towards overcoming the historical division of Europe and the symbolic end of the bipolar continent. The success of the 2004 enlargement reassures me that Ukraine will also go this way and significantly improve its international position and sovereignty.
Within the Europe Day celebration the EU Delegation to Ukraine invited Kyiv residents and guests to the panel debate on “The Idea of Europe and the new Ukraine”. EU and Ukrainian diplomats, Ukrainian intellectuals, and experts discussed methods for rapprochement of Ukraine and Europe in the areas of politics, economy, information, and values.
Danylo Lubkivsky, Ukraine’s Deputy Foreign Minister
Europe in Ukraine is first of all a way of thinking. The main achievement of the past few months is not only the establishment of a dialogue and cooperation with the EU, but also a move toward shared thinking. Our dialogue is an orchestra of thoughts that is directed by principles and values. We Ukrainians, want to be in the EU, and this goal is a synonym for dignity, which we defended on the Maidan.
Jana Zikmundova, the Ambassador of Belgium in Ukraine
The Maidan has become a wake-up call for Europeans. We realised that Ukraine is a much more complicated country than we used to think, and that European values are not taken for granted on the whole continent. We have to learn more about this part of Europe. As a result of the Ukrainian and European elections on May 25, we are going to get new leaders both in Ukraine and in the EU and that means a new page in the history of bilateral relations.
Martin Day,Charge d’Affaires of the British Embassy in Ukraine
The Association Agreement gives Ukraine the instruments for achieving the goals fought for on the Maidan: the fight against corruption and the establishment of the rule of law. Communicating with people across the country in Simferopil, Kharkiv, Donetsk, and Lviv, I have been reassured that these values are important to all Ukrainians.
Iryna Bekeshkina, Ukrainian sociologist, specialist in political and electoral sociology
By defending their values on the Maidan, Ukrainians found themselves to be more European than many Europeans. We idealise Europe and that helps to motivate us to improve our country. Besides, Maidan has cured our inferiority complex, and today we have all the necessary preconditions for becoming the most “genuine” European country in all of Europe. This is a decisive moment for us – we are the focus of Europe’s and the world’s attention. We can change our lives – we just have to believe in ourselves.
Sergiy Sydorenko, journalist, expert on European integration
The one and only reform that we urgently need in Ukraine is the responsible implementation of the Association Agreement.
The event was attended by the diplomats, politicians, scientists, NGO representatives, civic activists, students, and ordinary Ukrainians interested in EU-Ukraine relations, European affairs, values, and way of life.
Pavlo Cherkashyn, Chief of the Youth diplomatic initiative
This is my third time participating in Europe Day. It is a great opportunity to emphasise Ukraine’s desire to join the EU and for Ukrainians to learn more about it. This event is valuable because it enables ordinary citizens to come and hear the ambassador of the EU to Ukraine and Ukrainian officials speak. Citizens can then form their own opinions and attitude on this issue. Personally, I believe that joining the EU will bring Ukrainians a lot of benefits in all spheres of life: a free trade area guarantees the Ukrainian economy’s competitiveness, the active European civil society stimulates similar activity among Ukrainians, and a visa-free regime enables us to travel and benefit from the European experience.