What Do the Citizens of Kherson Think about European Integration?
28 September 2018, 14:25

Residents of Kherson consider the pledge of successful European integration of Ukraine’s achievement of EU standards in the economic, social and legal spheres. In addition, there is a lack of awareness of the European Union at the local level. This was discussed during a public discussion “Open Talk About Ukraine and the EU. What Do the Citizens of Kherson Think about European Integration?”, that was organized by the New Europe Center and Ilko Kucheriv Democratic Initiatives Foundation on September 28.

The speakers include Juris Poikāns, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Latvia to Ukraine, Kateryna Zarembo, Deputy Director of the New Europe Center, Leo Litra, Senior Research Fellow at the New Europe Center, Olexiy Haran, Head of Research, Ilko Kucheriv Democratic Initiatives Foundation, Petro Burkovskiy, Analyst, Ilko Kucheriv Democratic Initiatives Foundation.

At the beginning of the event Kateryna Zarembo presented the opinion poll results on Ukrainians’ attitudes towards European integration at the regional level, which was held by sociological company GfK Ukraine at the request of the New Europe Center

Juris Poikāns said that when Latvia joined the European Union, Brussels played a very important role in modernizing his country.

“The Association Agreement can play the role of a roadmap for Ukraine for further integration to the EU,” – the ambassador emphasized.

He also said that joining the European Union for Latvia was important not only from an economic point of view, but also for reasons of national identity.

In addition, Poikāns also said about the negative aspects for Latvia after joining the EU:

“After joining the EU, about 10% of the population left Latvia for EU countries. To compensate this negative factor Latvia founded the institution of dual citizenship”

In turn, Leo Lira stressed that some Ukrainians, after being disappointed in certain politicians, automatically overcome this disappointment to process of European integration that these politicians declare.

“Integration into the European Union has some difficulties for Ukraine, but the EU’s alternatives are much worse for us”, – said Senior Research Fellow at the NEC.

“In order to prevent mass migration of Ukrainians to the EU countries, effective reforms should be conducted in Ukraine”, – he added.

Olexiy Haran drew attention to the fact that after 2014 the support for strengthening ties with Russia among the residents of the south and east of Ukraine significantly decreased.

“In the south and east of Ukraine the option of neutrality in foreign policy prevails, and the joining to the EU or the Customs Union supports roughly the same number of people”, – noted Haran.

During his speech, Petro Burkovskiy explained why some Ukrainians have a negative attitude to European integration:

“Focus groups have shown that people who are distrustful of the European Union are afraid that European integration will ruin their wellfare”.

All photos from the discussion are available at the link

The event was held within the framework of the project implemented under the USAID/ENGAGE activity, which is funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and implemented by Pact. The contents of the event are the sole responsibility of New Europe Center and Pact and do not necessary reflect the views of USAID or the United States Government

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