Ukraine”s Euro-Atlantic Future:
International Forum VI
March 7-8, 2012
Ukraine at the Crossroads
The Future of Eastern in Europe in the Balance
Toronto, Canada –March 2, 2012, – Leading experts on contemporary Ukraine will be gathering in Ottawa on March 7 & 8, to discuss the state of democracy in Ukraine and the serious challenges facing the country both domestically and abroad.
An international conference titled Ukraine at the Crossroads” will examine such issues as democratic governance, human rights, the rule of law, and media freedom, all of which have been eroded in recent times. This is a concern since Ukraine was seen as a beacon of democracy for post-Soviet states with its Orange Revolution in 2004. These issues were again highlighted on February 27 when, in what has been called politically motivated justice, former Minister of the Interior and opposition leader, Yuri Lutsenko, was sentenced to four years imprisonment. Lutsenko joins former Prime Minister, Yulia Tymoshenko, who is serving a seven year sentence.
The Ukrainian economy, problems of corruption, changes to the electoral system and Ukrainian Constitution, will be on the agenda. The conference will be kicked off on March 7, with a panel discussion featuring prominent politicians and officials representing Ukrainian, European, American and Canadian points of view on the rapidly evolving situation in Ukraine.
The event promises to be especially timely since it will take place just four days after the Russian presidential elections. Russia is a key trading partner and important neighbour facing its own challenges while also pursuing policies that are contributing to escalating tensions in its relationship with Ukraine. Meanwhile, the Ukrainian government has announced that it is committed to a course of European integration, only to reject any conditions calling for prior reforms or democratic concessions, leaving members of the Euro-Atlantic community frustrated and unsure of how to effectively respond.
As Jars Balan, one of the organizers of the conference points out: Given Ukraine”s strategic location on the eastern flank of Europe and growing anxieties about political and economic stability in the regionwhen the European community is itself in the midst of a serious crisisit is critical for the West to fully understand the potential ramifications of some of the more worrisome developments in Ukraine. A major objective of the conference is to discuss how the Western governments can avoid exacerbating matters, while simultaneously encouraging the country”s fractious political elites to put the best interests of Ukrainian citizens ahead of their partisan differences, economic rivalries, and regional loyalties.”
The road ahead for Ukraine is fraught with many dangers,” observes Derek Fraser, a former Canadian ambassador to Kyiv who is chairing a session on the geopolitical forces that the country is being subjected to. Russia in particular is trying to reassert its historical hegemony over Ukraine and other former Soviet republics, and this would have negative consequences not only for Ukraine”s independence and territorial integrity, but for the democratic prospects of Russia itself and the long-term security interests of Europe.”
Ukraine at the Crossroads” is an initiative of the Canada Ukraine Foundation of the Ukrainian Canadian Congress, who with the help other partners have brought together renowned specialists, civil society activists, academics and several former Ukrainian government ministers to share their insights and ideas concerning Ukraine”s uncertain future. Among the sponsors of the conference are the Chair of Ukrainian Studies at the University of Ottawa and the Center for US-Ukrainian Relations, working in cooperation with the Canada-Ukraine Chamber of Commerce, and the US-Ukraine Business Council. Financial support is being provided by various donor organizations and agencies, as well as individual patrons. The banquet and sessions of Ukraine at the Crossroads” are being held at Ottawa”s Chateau Laurier Hotel.
- Name: Lubomyr Kwasnycia
- Telephone: +1 416-561-7778