What Do the Citizens of Odesa Think about European Integration?
27 September 2018, 14:39

Odesa residents mainly support the course of Ukraine to join the European Union, but many people in Odesa do not have enough information about what the EU really is. This was discussed during a public discussion “Open Talk About Ukraine and the EU. What Do the Citizens of Odesa Think about European Integration?”, that was organized by the New Europe Center and Ilko Kucheriv Democratic Initiatives Foundation on September 27.

The speakers include Juris Poikāns, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Latvia to Ukraine, Kateryna Zarembo, Deputy Director of the New Europe Center, Leonid Litra, Senior Research Fellow at the New Europe Center, Sergiy Koleboshin, Deputy chairman of the Odesa regional state administration, Maksym Paraschevin, Expert, 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

Sergiy Koleboshin drew attention to the strengthening of economic ties between the Odessa region and the EU countries: “The export of the Odesa region to the EU states in 2017 reached 35%. In general, the awareness of the need for movement to the European Union has increased in the Odesa region”.

In his turn, Juris Poikāns has listed the three main arguments of Latvia for joining the EU:

“First, it is a matter of national security. Latvia understood that it would be more effective to maintain independence in the alliance. Secondly, this is an economic benefit. For 1 euro, which Latvia deducts in the EU budget, 4 euros it gets back. Thirdly, this is a cultural aspect. The Latvians felt detached from the European civilization”.

The Ambassador of Latvia also commented on the foreign policy preferences of the residents of the east and south of Ukraine: “The policy of neutrality, which is popular today among residents of the south and east of Ukraine, is not relevant, because even Russia is not satisfied with neutral Ukraine”.

“Latvia has never considered accession to the EU as being directed against Russia, but Russia did not think so”, – said Juris Poikāns.

The question of foreign policy preferences of Ukrainians was also commented by Leo Litra:

“Despite the fact that the level of support for join the EU among residents of the south and east of Ukraine has slightly decreased, the support for join the Customs Union has not increased at this time”.

And Maksym Paraschevin drew attention to the specificity of Ukrainians’ perception of the process of European integration:

“In the issue of join the EU the material values prevail among Ukrainians. This applies to virtually all age groups”.

All photos from the discussion are available at the link

See also the video of “7 Channel” and TRC “Grad” on the results of the discussion:

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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