Partnerships between Ukrainian and EU municipalities in times of war
In the opening speech, Fabrizio Rossi, Secretary General of the Council of European Municipalities and Regions, emphasised that the Forum is taking place when Russia is increasing its attacks on key infrastructure in Ukraine, especially its electricity and heat supply systems. “The aggressor continues to shell the Ukrainian civilians to bring chaos, confusion and fear. However, this strategy didn’t work in February and it won’t work now! Ukrainians will resist because they are defending their country and their people.”
More than 130 participants from Ukraine and EU countries took part in two sessions; the first one was dedicated to existing partnerships between Ukrainian and EU communities, which were created in the framework of the “Bridges of Trust” initiative, and the second one to European Union funding programmes.
Viacheslav A. Nehoda, Deputy Minister for Communities and Territories Development of Ukraine, believes that future cooperation between Ukrainian and EU municipalities will include, besides the reconstruction of Ukraine, European integration, namely the measures that Ukrainian municipalities have to implement since Ukraine is now an EU candidate country.
The important role of municipalities in the reconstruction of Ukraine was also emphasized by Olena Tomniuk, Deputy Programme Director of U LEAD with Europe.”The time will come to build something new and better, and the municipalities will play a key role in the reconstruction. As a result of decentralization processes the communities are stronger and able to follow the principle of subsidiarity and rebuild exactly what they need and where they need”.
The partnerships presented at the Forum were: Novohuivynske, Zhytomyr oblast – Lazdijai district municipality, Lithuania; Fastiv, Kyiv oblast – Druskininkai, Lithuania; Korosten, Zhytomyr oblast – Ukmerge District, Lithuania; Solotvyno, Zakarpattia oblast – Sol, Slovakia; Dolyna, Ivano-Frankivsk oblast – Šiauliai District Municipality, Lithuania; Polyanytsia, Ivano-Frankivsk oblast – Polanica Zdrój, Poland.
In their presentations, heads and mayors of municipalities talked about the beginning of cooperation, joint meetings, signed agreements, visits on best practices, and humanitarian and financial assistance.
Ivan Dyriv, the mayor of Dolyna, is grateful to the “Bridges of Trust” initiative, and the Šiauliai district for inviting 36 children from low-income families and families of soldiers to spend time in the summer camp in the Baltic Sea. “The best thing that humanity has come up with is cooperation. In tough times we can get assistance and support each other”, – emphasized Dolyna’s mayor. In future, at the heart of the cooperation with Lithuanian partners, Ivan Dyriv sees energy, environment and transition to green technologies.µ
Khrystyna Vasilkova, secretary of the Polyanytsia village council in the Ivano-Frankivsk region, visited the Polanica Zdrój municipality in Poland in September. She strives to implement innovative eco projects within the community – the construction of wastewater treatment facilities and solving the problem of waste recycling, as European partners have considerable experience in these areas. “Work of our Polish colleagues is very encouraging. They started their planning back in the 1980s, so we understand that we need to learn from their experience and develop,” – emphasized Khrystyna Vasilkova. In winter, Polish partners plan to pay a visit to the Ivano-Frankivsk region.
Interesting future projects were presented by mayor of Fastiv, Mykhailo Netyazhuk. “Two priorities for us are the hospitals repurposing for the rehabilitation of military personnel and the “My Heart” project for people who suffered from the war. It is valuable to have partners – representatives from Druskininkai in Lithuania, who share their experience and are ready to raise funds to realize these projects.”
Volodymyr Moskalenko, mayor of Korosten municipality, emphasised the sincere support of Ukraine by Lithuanian friends from Ukmerge – recurrent humanitarian aid to war victims, a bus for the needs of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, and even organizing in Ukmerge a very symbolic event for Korosten “Day of Derun” (deruny – potato pancakes). With Lithuanian partners, the mayor sees cooperation opportunities in the field of energy efficiency and now the partners are preparing a joint project and hope to be supported by the LIFE programme.
One of the goals of the Forum was to spread information on funding programs. The LIFE programme was presented by Maia Mikosinska, Head of Sector, LIFE Nature and Biodiversity, European Commission. Forum participants had the opportunity to ask Mrs Mikosinska, as well as other representatives of the programmes like “Digital Europe”, TAIEX Technical assistance and information exchange tool and Deputy Minister for Communities and Territories Development of Ukraine, Ihor Korkhov, who spoke about the Danube Transnational Programme Interreg.
Ukraine and the EU cooperation among municipalities will continue because Ukrainian victory is ahead and a lot of joint work on the reconstruction of the country is ahead.
Project “Empowering municipalities in Ukraine and the European Union through building municipal partnerships” is implemented by the Council of European Municipalities and Regions (CEMR), PLATFORMA within the framework of U-LEAD with Europe’s initiative “Bridges of Trust” and with the support of U-LEAD with Europe.