Presidential elections in Lithuania, a language issue in Latvia, educational cooperation with Estonia. On December 11, diplomats from the Baltic countries met with students and professors of Mariupol State University.
Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Ambassador of the Republic of Latvia to Ukraine Juris Poikens, Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Ambassador of the Republic of Lithuania to Ukraine Marius Janukonis, First Secretary of the Embassy of the Republic of Estonia in Ukraine Helen Yenok, Deputy Attaché on Defense of the Lithuanian Embassy in Ukraine Mindatus Babonis and the former Foreign Minister of Lithuania, Petras Vaitiekunas visited MSU within the frameworks of visiting Mariupol.
The meeting, which was held in the format of live communication, was opened by Vice Rector for Scientific and Pedagogical Affairs (International Cooperation) of Mariupol State University, Professor Mykola Trofymenko. He emphasized on the fact, that Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia provide much support to Ukraine in many areas, such as: political and economic one, and also supporting of scientific and educational projects, youth initiatives. Also, vice-rector pointed out on a certain symbolism that such event takes place at the Center for Baltic and Black Sea Regional Studies, opened at the University within the frameworks of the Erasmus + project, which implements the universities of Ukraine, Lithuania, Poland, Estonia and Sweden.
Diplomatic representatives of Latvia and Estonia visited the university for the first time. Juris Poikans noted that this visit is an important component of the political support provided by the Baltic States for Ukraine.
“An independence, territorial integrity of Ukraine, the resolution of the Donbass conflict, and the return of the Crimea are very important political tasks for us. We understand very well all the troubles that you encounter. We also understand that today Donbass is cut in two parts. Unfortunately, many of the processes that you place faith in do not happen quickly enough, but today we need to do everything to ensure that life on free Donbass territories will going on and people who live on the occupied territories can see these positive changes,”
– Juris Poikens.
Helen Yannock also emphasized on the fact that Ukraine is an important territory for Estonia, and that is why many joint projects are being implemented. She encouraged students to study by scholarship programs at the universities of Tartu and Tallinn, to gain international experience and knowledge that could be applied at their homeland.
After a short introductory speech, foreign guests invited the attendees to go into the questions. Here are some basic ones.
In which city of Donetsk region Honorary Consulate of the Republic of Latvia will be opened?
“The Honorary Consulate is planned to be opened in Kramatorsk. Today it is the administrative center of the region. We have a candidate, a businessman from Sloviansk, whom we proposed to consider an opportunity to become an Honorary Consul of Latvia in Donetsk region. We have already received letters in support of him, but there is a certain procedure that he has to undergo, after which his candidacy should be approved by the Ukrainian side. With the help of the Honorary Consulate we plan to develop economic educational and cultural ties. We have an experience in working with the National Guard, a transfer of humanitarian aid, and the Honorary Consul could contribute to these processes,”
– Juris Poikens said.
Will the result of the presidential election in Lithuania in 2019 affect the state's policy towards Ukraine?
“Recently, Ukraine's support has indeed become a priority direction for Lithuania's foreign policy, which proves the number of joint projects with Ukraine. Lithuania has a clear consensus on the situation in Ukraine. No one doubts Ukraine's support, there is no disagreement in current situation, and I do not think that the result of the presidential election will change anything. This is such a fundamental direction, which should not change,”
– Marius Janukonis said.
How does the Latvian authorities react on the protest against the oppression of the rights of Russian-speaking population as a result of the launch of educational reform?
“For us in the early 90's it was already important that a person who does not know Latvian language could study it, because all high education switched into Latvian language. Today, if you look at the statistics, in general, 95% of Russian speakers evaluate their knowledge of Latvian as good. That is, there is no question of curtailing education in Russian, but the percentage of studying subjects in Latvian is increasing. That is, until the 4th or even the 8th form pupils study in Russian, and then the secondary education is in Latvian. In this situation, it is important for us that these people, if they live in Latvia, study not at the universities of St. Petersburg and Kaliningrad, but at Latvian universities so that they can compete on the labor market.
Regarding the protests. I would not call them like protest. How many people do these strikes gather people in Latvia? From 500 to 5000 (this was the most massive action). I do not say that there is no problem, but there is no mass of these protests. People are not joining them because they do not see problem. But there is always a group of people who will be dissatisfied with the current situation,”
– Juris Poikens said.
“In the 90's we tried to make people speak Lithuanian, but the main thing was not to speak Lithuanian, but love Lithuania, saying in native language "I love Lithuania",
– Pitraz Vaitkunas said.