Що пишуть про українську молодь у Великій Британії

В рамках конференції були також підведені підсумки Всеукраїнської кампанії №1 «Дізнайся!». Учасники з цікавістю обмінюються думками і після конференції.

Особливо цікаво ознайомитися з думкою авторитетних англійських гостей, що вперше побували в Одесі і зустрілися з молодіжними лідерами.

Пропонується Вашій увазі стаття Лорда МакКласкі “Ukraine’s future is safe thanks to energy of youth” в авторитетному виданні "The Scotsman" від 28 квітня 2007 року.

Публікується з дозволу автора мовою оригіналу, читайте статтю тут:

Ukraine’s future is safe thanks to energy of youth.

Great cities like Rome, Moscow, Paris or Edinburgh inevitably have a history of triumph and tragedy, success and failure stretching over centuries of human achievement, the achievements invariably tempered by folly and wickedness of a character that succeeding generations find bewildering. Odessa, “the pearl of the Black Sea”, has taken little more than two centuries to weave a similar tapestry.

This great Ukrainian port was founded only in 1794. Although then within the Russian empire, it got its early character from non-Russians. The most celebrated of them, the Duc de Richelieu, engaged Italian artists to create a city architecture that resembles that of Rome. The Greeks came to trade. Russians, Poles, Frenchmen, Tatars and countless other nationalities flocked in to share the trading opportunities of the new city. By the end of the 19th century, about 40% of the inhabitants spoke Yiddish. Odessa was a cultural, commercial and architectural jewel.

Alas, the multi-culturalism did not produce social enlightenment or tolerance. In particular, the Jews – as elsewhere in Ukraine - were subject to constant pogroms, by Cossacks and others. The 150,000 still in Odessa when the Germans and their Romanian allies arrived, following Hitler’s 1941 invasion of the Soviet Union, were rounded up and massacred. The few survivors emigrated to Israel when the Soviet Union collapsed. But the city still has over 100 different nationalities and just as many different languages are spoken.

Today Odessa is awakening from its long Soviet nightmare. One main features of the Soviet Union was the absence of the Rule of Law. Citizens were in no sense equal before the law: judges were the lackeys of Communist officials. The officials, the “nomenclatura”, were immensely privileged, but concealed it; most others were poor: they couldn’t conceal it. They were without effective rights against the party or the State. Whatever crumbs of prosperity they sought had to be bartered for in a kind of nation-wide black market. Everyone scratched everyone else’s back: an “economy of favours” functioned behind the official facade. The collapse of the Soviet Union was followed by the purloining of the country’s assets by those who were close to the political power. Politicians and the so-called “oligarchs” conspired to become conspicuously rich by exploiting a corrupt version of privatisation.

Although many of the new rich took their wealth to the West, including London, most remained behind. And today, in cities like Odessa, you can see displays of great wealth against a background of deprivation. Beautiful new villas with swimming pools in some parts of town; beggars in rags elsewhere. Karl Marx and the philosopher politicians of the 1917 revolution thought that they knew how to achieve a fair society; they must be turning in their graves. Let’s admit it, however: we in the West are hardly able to point an accusing finger at the social evil of wealth disparities. Although we preach the virtues of democracy, we have to recognise that it too often yields a seriously imperfect social justice.

Yet Ukraine in general and Odessa in particular give real grounds for hope. The “Orange Revolution” of 2004 was miraculously bloodless and the Constitutional Court behaved with impeccable independence. Hundreds of thousands spontaneously took to the streets in Kiev to demand free and fair elections. People discovered that they could openly express their thoughts without fear of punishment and defy “the Power” without being clubbed and dragged off to prison without charge. They also realised fully for the first time that the truth could be told, and discovered, in ways that were unimaginable only a few years earlier. Even now, in 2007, when there is a new constitutional crisis and a dangerous stand-off between President Yushencko, favouring the West, and Prime Minister Yanukovitch who looks East, people are not afraid to speak out and can publicise their views.

But the real hope for the future lies with the young. A new Youth Programme, conceived by a John Smith Fellow and promoted by young men and women, has overcome resistance from the old guard in Odessa. It has created a Youth City Council, modelled on the UK parliament, with an elected chamber and an unelected one, comprising the experienced leaders of the Non-Governmental Organisations of the Odessa region. The new movement is spreading and will involve one million young Ukrainians throughout the country, shaping the future. These young people will forge ahead regardless of the outcome of the present constitutional crisis, which they regard as irrelevant manoeuvring by old style politicians. They point to the absence of real demonstrators from Independence Square in Kiev – apart from a few hundreds of the “Rent-a-Mob”, placard-waving unemployed, whom the old style politicians pay to march up and down pretending to represent the people: you see the same phenomenon in other countries of the former Soviet Union.

As for Odessa, regardless of the politics of the country, it is learning to realise its enormous potential as a tourist destination. It is beautifully situated on the Black Sea. You can cruise from Istanbul and to Crimea. There are plans for a 2000-mile road round the Black Sea, through Romania, Bulgaria, Turkey, Georgia and Russia. The climate is almost Mediterranean. The plentiful food is local - organic, they claim. The wine is also local, cheap and good. The fine buildings are being returned to their colourful beauty. The beautifully restored Opera Hose is a gem. The Odessa steps, made famous by Eistenstein’s film, “The Battleship Potemkin” are a major attraction. The pavement cafй culture is growing. Alas, the airport is an old Soviet-style institution: the customer comes last. The sooner the youth parliament gets its hand on it, the better.
Within five years, when Ukraine and Poland jointly host Euro 2012, this huge, developing country will be transformed. Tourists, football fans and its talented democratically-minded youth will see to that. Let us hope that the EU realises the enormous value of welcoming the new Ukraine into membership. Their enthusiasm should inspire us.

Lord McCluskey has just returned from Odessa where he chaired an International conference under the auspices of the John Smith Memorial Trust, the British Embassy and the British Council. It was sponsored by Scottish & Newcastle plc.

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