United European Citizens for Ukraine
On 29 March 2022, the event “United European Citizens for Ukraine” hosted by the ECIT Foundation, Stand Up for Europe, EUMANS and Citizens Take Over Europe & European Alternatives took place. It brought together citizens, civil society, Members of the European Parliament, and Ukrainian representatives for horizontal information sharing and discussion. This was also the occasion to launch the appeal “Eukraine Now!” acting to support the Ukrainian accession to the European Union.
Martha Barandyi, Founder of the NGO Promote Ukraine, started by reminding the audience that in 2014, Ukrainians stood up for Europe and paid the price of their blood. Her association made sure that every European was aware of the Russian Federation President’s plan for Ukraine, why Crimea was annexed, and why Donbas was occupied. With the 2022 war in Ukraine, the NGO converted into a platform for volunteers to coordinate actions to help Ukraine. The priority at the moment is to ensure humanitarian support to Ukraine, organise manifestations and protests and advocate for more defence weapons for Ukraine and for the closure of the skies.
Barandyi: “If Ukraine falls, Europe falls. If Ukraine stands, Europe stands.”
Olena Carbou, Executive Director of the Ukrainian Think Tank Liaison Office in Brussels, first emphasised the importance of usage of proper terminology, to refer to an unprovoked invasion of the Russian Federation into the sovereign Ukrainian territory. She defines the ongoing war as an existential war for Ukraine. To win would allow the preservation of the nation and the country, while losing would signify the elimination of a nation and the incapacity of the free world to defend its values. Olena Carbou insisted on helping the Ukrainian civil society. As the Office in Brussels represents leading think tanks based in Ukraine, they still provide analysis of what is happening in Ukraine. In return, the Office’s main demand is “stay with us”.
Carbou: “We urgently ask you as civil society representatives of the EU and decision-makers to help Ukraine win this war and to stop the killing of the Ukrainians.”
Ophélie Masson, Coordinator of European Alternatives and Citizens Take Over Europe, started from her observations of central station Warsaw. First, already 3, 866 224 people have fled from Ukraine since February 2022 and for now, the whole effort of welcoming is taken by individual volunteers. People are not yet overwhelmed, but institutional support is needed. Ms. Masson also pointed out the fact that refugees are not benefitting from the same rights, even when fleeing a war zone as well. Indeed, the European Commission activated the temporary protection right, which again highlights a difference in treatment. While Ukrainian refugees are granted the right to work, medical help, access to education for children, and the right to open a bank account, in 2015 the EU put in place the Dublin restrictive regulation. For non-Ukrainians, the EU itself did not change its position but delegated the decision to national governments.
Masson: “All refugees should be treated the bare minimum, at least like Ukrainian refugees are treated, which is not enough, of course. But at least civil society and political leaders have shown a willingness to use the power they have to welcome Ukrainian refugees. We can only expect and hope that this will pave the way for better treatment of refugees from other regions of the world.”
Virginia Fiume, Co-President of Eumans, started by introducing Benjamin Cope, director of the Ukrainian House in Warsaw, to highlight the unprecedented Ukrainian situation requiring unprecedented measures. His statement supports the immediate accession of Ukraine into the European Union. She reminded the three points of action that are required to tackle the war of aggression in Ukraine. First, the activation of the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court. Second, the redefining of the EU policies, especially its energy policy. And, third, the guarantee of fundamental rights inside the EU. The migration policy has limits and should not only work during a war.
Fiume: “What can we do? Appeal.ukraine-eu for immediate access of Ukraine to the EU and citizenship for Ukrainians.”