Report on the results of educational tour to Berlin

From 5 September, 2016 to 9 September, 2016 the Open Dialog Foundation, the European Exchange and the International Renaissance Foundation organised an educational tour for Ukrainian students from Kharkiv, Odesa, Dnipro and Ivano-Frankivsk to Berlin. Thirty undergraduates spent an eventful week of meetings with European and German officials of government agencies. The tour was held as part of the ‘Supporting Youth As Impetus For The Strengthening of Democracy And Civil Society In Ukraine’, a project funded by the Federal Foreign Office of Germany.

On 5 September, 2016, the first of the planned events took place; it was a conference entitled ‘Building a house while on fire? Germany's OSCE Chairmanship amidst the reform pressure and crisis management’, organised by The Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom and The German Association for East European Studies. The conference was held in the premises of Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and Humanities. During the event, participants could listen to the speech of Michael Georg Link, the director of the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights. He gave his view on security situation in the OSCE countries 25 years after signing of Paris Charter. The conference was divided into two panel sessions.

As part of the first panel session entitled ‘Minsk Agreements – window dressing or a step towards peace?’ Anatoliy Hrytsenko, Michael Georg Link and Stefan Meister were primarily discussing the important institutional role of OSCE along with the Tripartite Contact Group andSpecial Monitoring Mission to Ukraine (SMM).Concerns were raised about the need for building up a new strategy, about the importance of keeping the sanctions against Russia etc. As part of the second panel session entitled ’Mediate states – OSCE's defence strategy for non-NATO countries’ Maia Panjikidze, Pavel Felgenhauer, Petri Hakkarainen and Michael Staack were holding discussion about the situation in Europe, whether it was a conflict of ideologies or conflict of interests, how threatening and unsteady the current geopolitical situation was and whether the West was capable of conducting a dialogue with Russia which was showing little desire to become a European country.

To find out more on The Friedrich Naumann Foundation please visit: http://fnst.org/
Friedrich Naumann Foundation in Ukraine and Belarus: http://fnst.org/content/ukrayina-ta-bilorus
The Conference Agenda (in German): https://shop.freiheit.org/#!/Veranstaltung/O6JD6
About the Conference (in Ukrainian): http://fnst.org/content/budivnictvo-domu-pid-chas-pozhezhi

With Anatoliy Hrytsenko and  Miriam Kosmel after the conference on OSCE's role in conflict resolution in Europe

In the evening of the same day the participants met Olga Schmidt of the ‘Dekabristen’ organisation, who introduced the participants to the opportunities of internship in Germany under the European Associates Programm Nordbayern / Berlin 2016 training programme. This exchange programme was founded by a non-commercial association ‘Dekabristen e.V.’ with the support of the Federal Foreign Office of Germany. The programme offers 45 scholarship allowances to enable last-year students and graduates in various fields to undertake an internship in November-December 2016. Thus, 30 young professionals from Ukraine and Moldova who know German language will be able to undertake an internship in Northern Bavaria, and 15 scholarship holders – in Berlin.

Please see the details on the internship programme at: https://drive.google.com/open?id=0B1x9jnavv9DsbEREWFRPM0hqNEE. (in German)
For details on ‘Dekabristen e.V.’ please visit: http://dekabristen.org/

On the next day, 6 September, 2016, the participants visited the workshop ‘Germany and Ukraine: the role of intercultural dialogue for mutual public development’ involving Liudmyla Melnyk, a researcher with the Institute for European Policy. She presented the Institute's activity concerning Ukraine and described the research areas which, to her mind, could be the most interesting for the participants. In particular, she covered the studies of Ukrainian diaspora in Germany which included interviewing of Ukrainian activists residing in Germany. Liudmyla Melnyk believes that, in Ukraine, the diaspora's potential is underestimated and is mainly prejudiced. Another research dealing with German and Ukrainian analytical centres gave a chance to understand how the two organisational approaches correlated, how the organisations appraised their own capabilities and those of their partners abroad. The event was highly interesting for the participants and triggered a lot of further questions concerning, in particular, the questions as to how to control the acquired data in German analytical centres and how to avoid falsifications; if more projects involving Ukrainian side appeared, etc. Ms. Melnyk was eagerly answering all the questions and also advised on where further details could be found.

For more details on the Institute for European Policy please visit: http://iep-berlin.de/en/

The group meeting with Liudmyla Melnyk

The next meeting took place in the Federal Foreign Office of Germany with Christopher Fuchs, a representative of the Ukraine Task Force of the Federal Foreign Office. Mr. Christopher Fuchs and the participants in the programme discussed the pressing issues of Ukrainian-German relations; in particular, he voiced Germany’s main motivation to assist Ukraine, the kind of assistance that Ukraine was receiving from Germany and the German parties’ expectations concerning the reform and recovery from the crisis.

While building partnership with Ukraine, factors of grave importance for Germany are the following: the reform of judicial system and justice, the results of anticorruption efforts, the reform of local government. Mr. Fuchs also stated that assistance to Ukraine in crisis recovery and preserving its integritywas one of the most important aspects of German foreign policy. Assistance to Ukraine aims at developing a democratic state based on the rule of law and economically sustainable community. Germany sees Ukraine as a promising associate for bilateral economic partnership. In conclusion, Mr. Fuchs emphasised that the priorities also included support for civil society initiatives which was the main driving force in the process of reforms and democratisation in Ukraine.

For more details on the Federal Foreign Office of Germany please visit: http://www.germania.diplo.de/

Meeting with Kathleen Clancy, the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) representative, was equally informative. Ms. Clancy introduced the opportunities of studying and the variety of scientific activities for foreign students in Germany and scholarship programmes of DAAD. Serhiy Zhadan and Yuriy Andrukhovych were named among widely known scholarship holders. The participants learnt that the German Academic Exchange Service carried out foreign cultural, educational and scientific policy, as well as provided development of partnership in the field of higher education. DAAD headquarters is located in Bonn; it is the control centre for all domestic and foreign activities of DAAD. Berlin office in Wissenschafts Forum (Science Forum) is the second most important office in Germany. In Ukraine, the main national office is located in Kyiv, while representative offices operate in the largest cities of Ukraine. Ms. Clancy emphasised that DAAD's main activity was to grant individual scholarship allowances to undergraduate and postgraduate students; she also stressed the fact that, after studying in Germany, most students went back to Ukraine and worked for development and prosperity of their own country.

More about the organisation: https://www.daad.de/en/

Meeting with Dr. Andreas Umland

At the end of the day, there was a meeting with Dr. Andreas Umland, a representative of the Institute for Euro-Atlantic Studies. Dr. Umland started the conversation by presenting the place and role of education in modern world and recommended that the participants become more international by obtaining education and/or undertaking internship in the best institutions in Europe and beyond. Mr. Umland pointed out that, for the process of building Ukrainian state in the future, there would be growing demand for professionals with international experience. According to the expert's view, relations between Ukraine and the European Union will be growing closer. When answering questions about the future of the EU, Dr. Umland gave one of the conceptions on the EU development – the ‘Europe of concentric circles’, i.e. a model where the EU would be divided into groups of states with different levels of integration. An interesting discussion with the students arose regarding the conception of Intermarium as a partner block of states from the Baltic sea to the Black and Adriatic seas. To end the meeting, the politologist noted that in German society, there was a positive tendency of growing recognition, sympathy and interest towards Ukrainian issues involving the major part of German elites.

For more details on the Institute for Euro-Atlantic Studies, please visit: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Andreas_Umland

On Wednesday, 7 September, 2016, the participants had a meeting with Dr. Martin Hoffmann, the director of Eastern Europe sector of the Committee on Eastern European Economic Relations. Mr. Hoffmann spoke about cooperation of German and Ukrainian companies, about the history and structure, objectives and working principles of the Committee on Eastern European Economic Relations, which was established in 1952 as a joint organisation of leading associations representing German business. Members of the Committee are industries located in Germany which are interested in conducting business in Russia, Belarus, Ukraine, countries of the South-Eastern Europe, Caucasus and in Central Asia. The Committee stands as an entity constituting influential contact for enterprises and administrative bodies in the named countries and in Germany.

For details on the Eastern Committee on Eastern European Economic Relations, please visit: http://www.ost-ausschuss.de/a-common-initiative-economic-associations-and-enterprises
Details on the Internship Programme please find at: http://www.internshipprogramme.de/

On the same day, the students visited the workshop entitled ‘Competences for civil society’ involving coaches Olga Diatel and Serge Kuznetsov, representatives of the ‘MitOst’ organisation. Olga Diatel elaborated on the history and working principles of the ‘MitOst’, a non-governmental and non-profit organisation seated in Berlin. The organisation promotes cultural and language exchange in the countries of Central, Eastern and South-Eastern Europe, Middle Asia and South Caucasus. ‘MitOst’ is engaged in active work in the field of education and mutual understanding between people and provides international educational and cultural projects, as well as exchange projects. Currently, the most active directions in Ukraine are civil education, culture and innovations.

Serge Kuznetsov and the workshop participants, discussed the concept of competence which combines both the ability to define people’s own problems, analyse the needs of society – with critical reasoning, tolerance, the ability to assume responsibility for one’s own decisions etc. The idea was also presented in a graphic form on a flipchart. Olga Diatel explained to the participants, the mechanisms of the competence approach and the manner in which a ‘competent person’ could affect the society; she also drew a detailed scheme of project creation and management using this approach. In conclusion of the workshop, Olga Diatel spoke about UkraineLab – an interdisciplinary platform for efficient networking and intersectoral partnership for agents of social change who worked on innovation development projects in Ukraine. It is a think-tank where visions and innovations for civil society and culture can be conceived, and it is also the action centre where these ideas may be immediately tested in practice and transformed into real partnerships.

More on ‘MitOst’ please find at: http://www.mitost.org/en.html

The meeting with Wilfried Jilge, a representative of an influential non-governmental institution – the German Council on Foreign Relations (DGAP), was held in premises of the institution, which, through research, discussions and related publications has been promoting a discussion on the matters of foreign policy in Germany for almost 60 years. Mr. Jilge told the participants that the tasks of his newly created position in the institute are fully concentrated on Ukraine. To the expert's mind, it is a sign that Ukraine has become an important pool for research and political consultations in Germany. During the meeting, the participants learned that Wilfried Jilge's research activity is focused on analysing the process of reform implementation, in particular, the reform of justice, as well as the question of national identities and regional political cultures and their impact on the politics in Ukraine. MR. Jilge drew special attention to the change of political attitude among the Ukrainian population in Donbas and Southern Ukraine to their national identity in the post-Maidan Ukraine, as well as to the processes of reinstating cronyism in the East of Ukraine and its influence on the settlement of the conflict with Russia within the framework of the Minsk Process. Raising the question of development of the political culture of Ukrainians and the polarisation of the Ukrainian nation is an important step on the path of shaping new political elite.

More on DGAP please find at: https://dgap.org/en

At the meeting with Wilfried Jinge

The next meeting was held with Svitlana Savytska, the Regional Coordinator for Central-Eastern Europe and Middle Asia with Transparency International, in the office of the organisation. Ms. Savytska presented the history of Transparency International, the global civil society organisation combating corruption and researching corruption issues in the world; it is famous for its annual publication of Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) in countries around the world. As of today, it has more than 100 national offices. The working principle of the national offices is their independence from the headquarters. Transparency International has offices in Ukraine which carry out a number of projects, aimed at enhancing public control over the implementation of the state anti-corruption programme, establishment of accountable and open government, as well as establishing control of the efficiency of public expenditure.

Ms. Savytska stressed the importance of the civil society's contribution to the fight against corruption and noted that the struggle against corruption in the country is a long-term process. In recent years, this process has been activated due to the civil society – the Anti-Corruption Bureau and the public e-procurement system ProZorro were created. The participants were mainly interested in finding out which instruments of anti-corruption struggle can be used by the civil society and how the TI assesses the reform of local government and decentralisation, from the anti-corruption point of view.

More about Transparency International may be found at: https://www.transparency.de/English.1222.0.html

At the meeting with German politologist, the German Green Party member Viola von Cramon

The fourth day of the educational tour began with the meeting with a German politician, the Green Party member Viola von Cramon, who shared her experience of working as a Bundestag MP from Alliance '90/The Greens from 2009 to 2013. The politician also described to the participants, some of the technologies she had used to get across to her voters. Ms. von Cramon said that she had also been studying her audience carefully and had always tried to do something innovative, to use social media, to establish direct contacts with people, and present herself and her programme in a dialogue. Answering the question about Ukraine’s development prospects, Ms. Cramon stated that there were positive changes in Ukraine, new politicians were elected. To her mind, the future of Ukraine is in the youth who will struggle against negative patterns, established by the old political elites. She also stressed the importance of support for the development of civil society in the country as well as the establishment of new NGOs.

To learn more about Ms. Viola von Cramon please visit her site: https://violavoncramon.de/

The meeting with another German politician Karl-Georg Wellmann, a Bundestag MP from the Christian Democratic Union, was held during the group's visit to the Bundestag premises. At the meeting, Mr. Wellmann presented his work as the head of the German-Ukrainian Parliamentary Group and noted that he perceived Ukraine as a potential candidate to the EU. Ukraine has great potential, namely: human capital, but the problem is the presence of corruption and oligarchy’s ties with the government, as these phenomena do not meet the EU standards. According to Mr. Wellmann, Ukraine needs some sort of a fund and a Marshall Plan, i.e. financial support for the state’s development. Ukraine needs to amendthe electoral law, carry out judicial reform and establish an independent party system, and in order to do so, it can use other countries’ experience. After Mr. Wellmann's speech, the participants asked him which three major reforms should be implemented in Ukraine? To this, the MP answered: "justice reform, tax reform, the rule of law." The explanation he gave to this was that the majority of investors intended to come to Ukraine, but the lack of stability and transparent legislation restrained this process. Ukraine has lost 25 years of its development, though it launched the process simultaneously with Poland, which is now at a high level of development and is a member of the EU. Students also posed the question about the level of corruption in Germany. Mr. Wellmann could not say there was no corruption at all, but the party system in the country was very transparent, and corruption in Parliament was severely punished by law.

Please find the details about MP Karl-Georg Wellmann at: www.wellmann-berlin.de

During the meeting with Head of the European Commission Delegation in Berlin, Mr. Reinhard Hönighaus, the participants learned about the structure and tasks of the European Commission Delegation in Germany. When answering questions of the project participants, Mr. Hönighaus gave details on political and economic cooperation between Ukraine and the EU, its positive effects and prospects of signing the Association Agreement with the European Union; as well as on external and internal factors which impede and facilitate the introduction of the non-visa regime. In conclusion, Mr. Hönighaus expressed his satisfaction with the high level of training, presented by the students participating in the project; and stressed that with such youth, he is confident in Ukraine's future.

More on the EC Delegations may be found at: https://ec.europa.eu/germany/home_de (in German)

The meeting with Reinhard Hönighaus, the head of European Commission Delegation

In the evening, participants had a chance to attend the conference entitled ‘Economic stabilisation and the fight against corruption in Ukraine’ in the premises of the EC Delegation. The conference was organised by the ’Kyiv Dialogue’, a project carried out by the European Exchange NGO and the International Renaissance Foundation. At the event, students learned that economic reforms in Ukraine were underway, but the dynamics was very low. The main achievements since the early 2015 are considered to be the increase in prices for energy carriers (one of the IMF's requirements), the law on bank responsibility in case of bankruptcy, the introduction of the electronic system of public procurement, as well as a number of measures to deregulate the economy, improve the business climate and promote transparency.

The discussion about the means of effective and prompt implementation of economic reforms in Ukraine, the impact of corruption and oligarchic system on the reformation process and stagnation of Ukrainian economy, as well as about the opportunity to stabilise Ukrainian economy and make the country attractive to foreign investors, was held by: Ricardo Giucci, the director of the German Advisory Group (Berlin), Olena Tregub, the director of international programmes Department, Ministry of Economic Development and Trade in Ukraine, Yuriy Butsa, Deputy Minister of Finance of Ukraine, Dmytro Solohub, the vice president of the National Bank of Ukraine, Peter Wagner, the head of the Support Group Ukraine, the European Commission (Brussels), Krystyna Hutsalova, ProZorro coordinator, the project manager of public procurement reform at the National Reforms Council of Ukraine, Iaroslav Hrehirchako, the deputy business-ombudsmen in Ukraine, Kirsten Lohrscheid, Alliance for the integrity, the German Society for international cooperation (GIZ).

While having the discussion with other experts about the inability to find motivated employees in the face of the existing low salaries, earned bythe state officials in Ukraine, Reinhard Hönighaus, the head of the European Commission Delegation in Germany, addressed the tour participants with a question, asking young people who would be willing to work in the government for a low salary. The students answered in unison by raising their hands and expressed the desire to change Ukraine and support the reforms by working in government positions in the future.

Further information and reference to the conference agenda may be found at the ’Kyiv Dialogue’ site: http://www.kiev-dialogue.org/uk/zaxodi.html?page=2

The last day of the tour ended with the workshop involvingSteffen Halling, a representative of the Foundation for Science and Policy. Mr. Halling presented the structure of the institute which has 7 research areas, 5 of which are regional (research on Ukraine belongs to the Eastern Europe and Central Asia region). Participants learned that the institute was engaged in political and academic research, used leading research methods and provided expert reviews.

More about the organisation: https://www.swp-berlin.org/en/start-en.html

The participants were extremely satisfied with the tour and knowledge acquired. They shared their impressions on their Facebook pages, most of which are available at the Facebook page of the ’Supporting youth as impetus for the strengthening of democracy and civil society in Ukraine’ project.

See us on Facebook:
“Supporting youth as impetus for the strengthening of democracy and civil society in Ukraine” on FB: https://www.facebook.com/jugendprojektKDODF/
Open Dialog Foundation: https://www.facebook.com/ODFUKR/  
European Exchange: https://www.facebook.com/Europ%C3%A4ischer-Austausch-European-Exchange-205531692842267/?ref=br_rs