On February 29, the XIV Annual Meeting of the Ukrainian School of Political Studies took place. We gathered Alumni on this day not by chance. During this period – in late February and early March – the annexation of Crimea happened six years ago.
The peninsula was and remains an important part of the history of the School. We have been visiting Crimea every year since the beginning of the USPS. Our groups were hospitably hosted in Bakhchisaray Zindjirli Madrasa. But after 2013 it is impossible. We believe that future USPS groups will be able to visit the Ukrainian Crimea freely.
In the meantime, we wanted to remember together with the community the noise of the Crimean waves and plunge into the sea atmosphere. Thus arose the installation “Crimea”, which we presented at the Annual Meeting of the USPS. These are memories for each of us and an opportunity to feel a part of the home for the Crimean Tatar people.
We believe that the next groups of the School will be able to visit Crimea freely. In the meantime, let’s look for a “way home”, as Jamala sings.
In 2020, the Ukrainian School of Political Studies will be 15 years old. That is why we wanted to show the whole journey of becoming a Community, starting from 2005, when the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe decided to establish the Ukrainian School of Political Studies.
“We are going through times of turbulence, but we have always sought to overcome them with you, pursuing only one goal – the idea of Ukraine. Everything we have done for 15 years, we are doing now and will continue in the future – just for our state’s subjectivity, development, and progress. School is not a party or a network of useful contacts. I always say that the School is a sieve. This is a clear crystallization. And we say goodbye very easily to those who forget about these values,” – said Svitlana Matviienko, Director of the USPS, during her speech.
For 15 years, together, the whole community, we have overcome challenges and developed. Circumstances changed, political players changed, and we defended our principles. Ukraine needs justice, breakthrough, and unity. To this end, our community has always chosen one journey – the path of values, dialogue, enlightenment, and taste.
Our Alumnus, project director at the Centre of United Actions Andriy Andrushkiv, spoke about the importance of dialogue at the USPS Annual Meeting.
“The builders of the Tower of Babel not only failed the project. They scattered around the world and disappeared as a people. First of all, because they stopped talking to each other. We need a conversation. This should be a real dialogue, not a small talk over a glass”, – the speaker stressed.
At the same time, it is important to adhere to certain principles of dialogue. In particular, dialogue requires homework, effort to hear the other, silence, and attention.
According to the speaker, a dialogue is not a thing in itself, but a way to know the truth. We have a lot of topics for dialogue. How do we build a civil service system so that we have to serve there, not kowtow? How do we build a judicial system that will not pass politically motivated sentences? Only in the format of agreement, dialogue, co-creation can we invent the rules for the future. And, thus, to ensure that the country in the process of creation does not fall apart like the Tower of Babel.
Taste: Architecture is politics
Anna Kyrii, the founder of the architectural bureau and an Alumna of the USPS, opened the topic of architecture in politics for the guests.
“First we shape our buildings; then they shape us”, – speaker quoted Winston Churchill.
She told and showed how architecture reflects countries’ political regimes, how symbolic is the difference between democracy and authoritarianism on the example of buildings. In the first bridges are erected. In the second – fences rise.
“The philosophy of fences must be replaced by the philosophy of bridges. After all, the first ones separate, and the bridges unite“, – the speaker explained.
Ukraine inherited many authoritarian “political” buildings from the Soviet Union. Rebuilding the past for a new quality of the future is a new symbolic task for modern Ukrainian architects.
Yevhenia Zakrevska, Chair of the Bar Advisory Group and an Alumna of the USPS 2019, spoke with the School community about values. Yevhenia is a lawyer for the families of the Heavenly Hundred for Maidan affairs. She used to stand up for her principles, no matter what. In particular, in November 2019, Eugenia went on a hunger strike, when due to parliament’s actions, the investigation of cases was suspended. Because values motivate struggle.
“Everyone has values. Attempts to instill something from the outside provoke resistance. And this is understandable. After all, this is an interference with the integrity of the individual. But even those values that are your own actually limit your choice, reduce competitiveness, or even efficiency. There are no advantages from them. However, values are about a compass, about the direction of movement towards civilization. It’s not just about fear. If you unite a large circle of people who have a single value scale, they will form a field of trust. Then there will be a leap in the development of the environment in which we live”, – the Alumna summed up her speech.
Andriy Stelmashchuk, the managing partner of Vasyl Kisil & Partners and an Alumnus of the School, spoke about justice as one of the community’s fundamental values this evening.
“Law is the art of goodness and justice. The law is based on justice – everyone must have equal conditions. But justice comes when punishment is inevitable“, – said the speaker.
However, today in Ukraine, there are certain obstacles to achieving justice.
“Legal institutions – the judiciary and law enforcement – have a high level of distrust. This means that people want justice, but they cannot get it in these institutions”, – Andriy Stelmashchuk said.
Legal activity, the main purpose of achieving justice, is now mixed with business all over the world. Here, says Andriy, it is important to remember that a lawyer is not a businessman because his main goal is not to make a profit. A lawyer is, first and foremost, one who cares about justice.
The director of the Swiss Cooperation Office, Nicole Ruder, described how the Ukrainian School of Political Studies overcomes challenges with the help of its basic values. She also said that Switzerland supports USPS on its path.
“Climbing a mountain is a challenge. It’s like your personal path here. Your values are spikes on the soles of your shoes that do not allow you to “slip”. Your community is like a rope. It does not exist to lift you up a mountain. Its purpose is not to let you fall. Each group of the School is your constantly climbing team. Behind and in front of you – “mountain range”. Switzerland is happy to support you on this path. And, in the end, everyone goes their own path. Keep going up and enjoy the scenery”, – Ms. Ruder explained metaphorically.
Rustem Umerov, a representative of the Crimean Tatar people and co-founder of the Astem Foundation, stressed the importance of unity for Ukraine now in order to preserve its sovereignty and statehood.
People come together because they have something in common. However, according to Mr. Umerov, only unification for the sake of positive development, for the sake of justice and peace, protection of common values can be really long-term.
There are many examples in Ukrainian history of how unity helped to achieve the highest goal.
“Last year we celebrated the 100th anniversary of the Act of Unification of the Ukrainian People’s Republic and the Western Ukrainian People’s Republic. Then Ukrainians proved to the whole world that unity could take a concrete political and legal form – a single Ukrainian state. We had to pay a terrible price for this because the Soviet regime saw the unity of Ukrainians as a threat to their own existence. We survived the Holodomor, repression, but we won. We restored our statehood, created a political nation. The Ukrainian state flag is now proudly flying all over the world,” –the speaker said.
And now we need the unity of all citizens of Ukraine again to defeat the enemy. The truth has nothing to divide. The truth is what unites.
“When we talk about the strategies of de-occupation of Crimea, it is necessary to consider many factors. First of all, we must restore not only the territorial integrity of the state. We must provide conditions for the political and cultural unity of our citizens. Do not unify them using tools of influence. However, unite them, preserving the identity of each ethnic and religious group. To unite on the basis of common values, vision, purpose. We can use the “unity of identities” approach”. I think this is our strength“, – added Rustem Umerov.
The last action of the XIV Annual Meeting of the USPS was the awarding of diplomas to the group-2019.
On this day, the participants of the program officially completed their studying. But we do not say goodbye to our Alumni. Ahead – new victories on our common Way!