AER President’s visit to Ukraine:AER hand in hand with its Ukrainian members and their citizens
The Assembly of European Regions (AER) follows with deep concern and sorrow the developments taking place in Ukraine. What is happening there will have an impact on the future of Europe and beyond. This is the reason why Mrs Hande ÖZSAN BOZATLI, AER President, visited Ukraine these past days, accompanied by the Secretary General Mr Pascal GOERGEN. This visit was the occasion to show AER’s support and solidarity with the Ukrainian officials and people, and to see what their needs are and how AER can support them.
AER does not support separatism and military force and denounces all forms of violence. Since its creation, its main goal has been the promotion of regional democracy and pluralism of culture and society. These are the values AER wants to promote in Ukraine and beyond.
“AER has been engaged in the Eastern Partnership countries for many years, especially in Ukraine. Today, it is the Ukrainian people and citizens who have to raise their voice in order to decide on the unity and integrity of their territory”. This was the message delivered by AER President to Mr GROYSMAN, Vice-Prime Minister of Ukraine in charge of regional development.
During her meeting with Mr TCHERNOV, Head of the Regional Council Kharkiv and President of the Association of Ukrainian Regions, AER President stated: “Representing regions from the Azores in the far West of Europe to Tatarstan in the East, AER believes in the power of subnational democracy, promoting dialogue beyond different cultures and language backgrounds. We will put our commitment into practice, helping our member regions and Ukraine to develop regional development strategies and providing them with best practice examples from other members of the AER family”.
AER strongly supports the wish of Ukrainian regions to see the central government implement a reform of the country’s territorial organisation. Direct election of regional leaders and budgetary independence of local and regional authorities must be key in this process of regionalisation that AER is willing to accompany. This is also the message of the Dnipropetrovsk resolution, adopted by over 800 local and regional representatives meeting on 24th April in this Region, providing concrete suggestions for an effective and sustainable decentralisation.
Back from this important visit, AER President immediately wrote a letter to Commissioner FÜLE, with a clear message: “Our insights are relevant for the newly set up Support Group for Ukraine which you, Commissioner Füle, are coordinating. We propose to include representatives of the Assembly of European Regions as special advisers to this group in order to bring in the regional perspective on Ukrainian needs and challenges. In the current situation we have to bring all forces together in order to built up and support strong institutions on all levels of governance.”