26 May to 1 June 2018
The 2018 Field Trip of the Körber Foreign Policy Network took place in Ukraine and the Republic of Belarus.
The journey started in Eastern Ukraine, where the group had the chance to visit the checkpoint Maiorsk and to learn about the political and humanitarian situation at the contact line, which divides the separatist- held territories from the rest of the country.
In Kramatorsk, the interim capital of the Donetsk region while the city of Donetsk remains under occupation, the participants met with Oksana Holowko, representative of the regional authorities, who spoke about the consequences of the conflict on the everyday life of the population. The programme proceeded with a meeting with Olga Scripovscaia, Team Leader at the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) to Ukraine, who elaborated on the challenges and opportunities of the SMM and of the work as a monitor of the ceasefire.
From Kramatorsk, the group travelled to Kiev via train. There, the programme began with a meeting with Ambassador Ernst Reichel, German Ambassador to Ukraine. He talked about the achievements and challenges of the bilateral relations and provided his assessment on domestic developments, especially regarding the parliamentary and presidential elections in 2019.
Alexander Hug, Principal Deputy Chief Monitor of the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine, and Roger Ruffy, Deputy Head of Delegation, International Committee of the Red Cross in Kiev, met with the participants to discuss their observations of the situation in Eastern Ukraine. They presented the work of the OSCE and the ICRC, respectively, and talked about the consequences of the conflict for the population.
The fight against corruption was the focus of the conversations with Anastasia Krasnosilska, Advocacy Officer, Anti-Corruption Action Centre, and Olena Prokopenko, Head of International Relations, Reanimation Package of Reforms. With Tatiana Kovtun, Deputy Secretary of State, Cabinet of Ministers, the group discussed reforms in the civil service. Oleksii Makeiev, the political director in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, outlined the main pillars of Ukrainian foreign policy and shared his views on relations with Russia and the EU.
In a meeting with the Head of the Committee on Foreign Affairs in the Verkhovna Rada, Hanna Hopko, together with Alyona Gotmanchuk and Olga Bielkova, the discussion touched upon several topics such as corruption, the conflict in Eastern Ukraine, relations with Russia, North Stream 2 and the new language law. In addition, the investigative journalist and member of the Verkhovna Rada, Serhij Leschtschenko, met with the group to exchange views about the domestic political situation and to talk about his personal experiences as a Maidan activist.
Guided tours of the Maidan and the Babi Yar memorial center, which commemorates the Babi Yar mass shootings of September 1941, complemented the programme.
The visit of Belarus began with a meeting with Foreign Minister Vladmiri Makei, who gave a comprehensive overview of the principles and guidelines of Belarusian foreign policy.
Furthermore, the group met with Yauheni Preiherman, Policy Director, Liberal Club and Head, Minsk Dialogue Initiative, and Dzianis Melyantsou, Senior Analyst, Belarusian Institute for Strategic Studies.
With Irina Alkhovka, Chairperson, Board of Gender Perspectives, and the long-standing human rights activist Aleh Hulak, Chairman, Belarusian Helsinki Committee, the participants discussed the condition of NGOs and civil society in Belarus, the human rights situation and the role of women. Hovsep Voskanyan, Chairman of the Board, German-Belarusian Economic Club, shared his assessment of current economic trends and challenges for Belarus.
Additionally, a meeting took place with Valery Voronetsky, Chairperson, Permanent Commission on International Affairs, and Valentin Mikhnevich, Chairperson, Standing Commission on National Security, in the National Assembly.
A discussion with the German Ambassador to Belarus, Peter Dettmar, and Jim Couzens, Head of Political, Press and Information Section, European Union’s Delegation to Belarus, concluded the programme.