Europe and the crisis in the Ukrainian Republic

At 19:30 on the 21st October 2014, deBuren hosted a debate on the relationship between Europe and Russia, with a special focus on the Ukrainian situation. This debate was in English and took place in deBuren’s premises at Leopoldstraat 6, 1000 Brussels. Entry was unrestricted, but cost €5.

Video highlights and a full length recording of the debate can be found on this page, while a video of the question and answer session following the debate can be found on our Vimeo channel.

In the run-up to the Ukranian parliamentary elections on October 26th, those participating looked at the development of the European-Russian relationship in recent years, assessed the approach, which European leaders have taken since the ’90s and asked, whether or not this should now be modified.

Speakers contemplated, whether the European Union has approached the Ukrainian crisis properly or whether perhaps different behaviour could have been more opportune in the circumstances. Focus was then put on alternative approaches, which might have paid more dividends and should perhaps be considered in the future.

More generally speaking, light was also shone on the real value of international treaties in a scenario in which parts of an autonomous state appear to have been virtually annexed, despite the theoretically binding efforts of prior treaties. Furthermore, probing questions were asked of the EU’s realistic ability to guarantee peace – speakers asked themselves, is its claim to such credible, when it appears unable to stop aggressive action in its backyard?

Ultimately, this debate considered, whether we still trust in the EU’s ability to secure peace and stability and whether we still have faith in the paper net that governs our international geopolitical constellations, when it seems that forthright actions can render our treaties meaningless?

Prior to the debate the Ukrainian performer Taisiya Melnyk presented a short video of her performance Flowering cruelty. This performance – during which she used combat knives – was meant to express the senselessness of war.




Chris Burns is a Franco-American journalist and media consultant with 25 years of reporting experience in Europe, the U.S., Africa, Central Asia and the Middle East. He has covered armed conflicts, election battles, financial crises, natural and human disasters and film festivals. After time spent reporting for CNN, Bloomberg TV and the Associated Press, Chris Burns now hosts a hard talk programme on Euronews, calledThe Network. He is also a media consultant, media trainer and video producer, and has moderated panels including the World Economic Forum and the first-ever live debate between the EU presidential candidates. A graduate of political economy at the University of California, Berkeley, Chris speaks five languages, has dual US-French nationality, and lives in Brussels with his wife, two kids and three guitars.


Andriy Boytsun is a researcher and visiting professor at the University of Antwerp, where he also received his PhD in economics in 2009. Previously, he worked on international policy projects in the Ukrainian Republic, about which he has since written for, amongst others, the economic magazines Quarterly Predictions and Policy Studies. Since the beginning of the present crisis, Andriy has been reporting the news from the studios of Ter Zake and in interviews on Radio 1. He has also written several opinion pieces on the Ukrainian situation for VRT Nieuws. His current research focuses on corporate governance and he has also contributed to debate about Ukrainian policy in this field. For example, after the Russo-Ukrainian “gas war” he organised a round table in Kyiv on the governance of Naftogaz Ukraine, the largest gas company in the region, state controlled and with a monopoly on Ukrainian gas supply.

Michael Emerson is a senior research fellow at CEPS [The Centre for European Policy Studies] in Brussels. Since 1998, he has been the director of the programme for European external, security and neighbourhood policy at CEPS. Emerson graduated from Balliol College, Oxford and subsequently worked for the OECD [The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Organisation] in Paris (1966-1973), the European Commission (1973-1996), as an economic adviser to former European Commission President Roy Jenkins and as the EU ambassador to Moscow (1991 -1996). From 1996 to 1998, he worked as a senior research fellow at the London School of Economics and has numerous publications on European integration, the ENP [European Neighbourhood Policy] and contemporary conflicts in Europe to his name.

Sergii Leshchenko is an established, Kyiv-based investigative journalist, blogger and activist for press freedom. In 2010, he was one of the initiators of the Stop Censorship! movement. Since 2000, he has been working for the news website Ukrainska Pravda, where he has specialised in anti-corruption research and political reporting. In the year prior to the elections of 2012, he took part in the Chesno campaign, calling for transparency and accountability in the Ukrainian parliament. In 2012, Leshchenko was awarded a John Smith Fellowship, after he had participated in a UK-based programme on good governance, social justice and the rule of law. In 2013, he received journalism awards from the Norwegian Fritt Ord Foundation and the German ZEIT-Stiftung. In the same year he published the book The American Saga of Pavlo Lazarenko, based on the investigation of the former Ukrainian Prime Minister Pavlo Lazarenko by the American justice system. In 2013-14, he was then a Reagan-Fascell Fellow at the National Endowment for Democracy centre in Washington, where he worked on an essay on the failure of the Orange Revolution. Sergei is also running as a candidate for president Poroshenko’s party in the upcoming Ukrainian parliamentary elections.



Europe and the crisis in the Ukrainian Republic

Op dinsdag 21 oktober 2014 van 19:30 tot 21:00. deBuren, Leopoldstraat 6, 1000 Brussel. In het Engels.

Video hoogtepunten / audio opname / Q & A video

deBuren is lid van het netwerk van Europese debatcentra Time to Talk, waarin het thema The crisis of trust in Europe dit jaar centraal staat. De Europese Unie wordt vaak geroemd als bewaker van de vrede; sinds haar oprichting is er binnen de EU-grenzen geen oorlog meer geweest. Nu er zich voor het eerst sinds de Balkanoorlog weer een gewapend conflict aan de grenzen van de Unie afspeelt is de vraag: hoeveel vertrouwen verdient de EU nog als bewaker van een duurzame vrede? Welke houding moet de Europese Unie tegenover Rusland innemen nu Oekraïne, een land waar zeer nauw mee wordt samengewerkt, door toedoen van de Russen niet zeker meer kan zijn van zijn territoriale integriteit? Staan we voor een nieuwe Koude Oorlog?

Debat met o.a. Michael Emerson (Centre for European Policy Studies), Andriy Boytsun (Universiteit Antwerpen) en Sergii Leshchenko (onderzoeksjournalist Ukrainska Pravda). Moderator: Chris Burns (Euronews, Friends of Europe).

Extra programmaonderdeel | Voorafgaand aan het debat zal de Oekraïense performer Taisiya Melnyk een video van haar performance Flowering cruelty presenteren. Voor de performance – die de zinloosheid van oorlog wil uitbeelden – maakte Melnyk gebruik van gevechtsmessen.


Over de sprekers:

Andriy Boytsun is onderzoeker en gastprofessor aan de Universiteit Antwerpen, waar hij in 2009 ook zijn doctoraat in de toegepaste economische wetenschappen behaalde. Voorheen werkte hij op internationale beleidsprojecten in Oekraïne, waarover hij voor o.a. de economische tijdschriften Quarterly Predictions en Policy Studies heeft geschreven. Sinds het begin van crisis in Oekraïne heeft duidt Andriy het nieuws in de studio van Ter Zake en in interviews op Radio 1. Hij schreef daarnaast verschillende opiniestukken over de toestand in Oekraïne voor VRT Nieuws. Zijn huidige onderzoek gaat over het deugdelijk bestuur. Ook op dit vlak heeft hij bijgedragen tot het beleidsdebat in Oekraïne. Zo organiseerde hij na de “gasoorlog” tussen Rusland en Oekraïne in Kiev een rondetafelconferentie over het deugdelijk bestuur van Naftogaz Oekraïni, grootste onderneming en gasmonopolist van Oekraïne.

Michael Emerson is Senior Research Fellow bij het Centre for European Policy Studies (CEPS) in Brussel. Sinds 1998 is hij programmadirecteur voor het Europees Buitenlands-, Veligheids- en Nabuurschapsbeleid binnen het CEPS. Emerson studeerde af aan Balliol College in Ofxord en werkte vervolgens voor de OESO in Parijs (1966-1973), voor de Europese Commissie (1973-1996), als economisch adviseur voor voormalig Europees Commissievoorzitter Roy Jenkins en als EU-ambassadeur in Moskou (1991-1996). Hij was van 1996 tot 1998 Senior Research Fellow aan de London School of Economics. Michael Emerson heeft talloze publicaties over Europese integratie, over Europees nabuurschapsbeleid en over hedendaagse conflicten in Europa op zijn naam staan.

Sergii Leshchenko is een in Kiev gevestigde onderzoeksjournalist, blogger en activist voor persvrijheid. In 2010 was hij een van de initiatiefnemers van de ‘Stop Censorship!’-beweging. Sinds 2000 werkt hij voor de journalistieke website Ukrainska Pravda, waar hij zich heeft gespecialiseerd in anticorruptieonderzoek en politieke verslaggeving. In het jaar voorafgaand aan de verkiezingen van 2012 nam hij deel aan de ‘Chesno’-campagne die opriep tot transparantie en het afleggen van verantwoording door het parlement. In 2012 werd Leshchenko de John Smith Fellowship toegekend, waarna hij in London en Edinburgh deelnam aan een programma over good governance, sociale rechtvaardigheid en de rechtsstaat. In 2013 ontving hij journalistieke prijzen van de Noorse Fritt Ord Foundation en de Duitse ZEIT-Stiftung. Datzelfde jaar publiceerde hij het boek The American Saga of Pavlo Lazarenko, gebaseerd op het onderzoek naar voormalig Oekraïns premier Pavlo Lazarenko door de Amerikaanse justitie. In 2013-1014 was Sergii Leschenko Reagan-Fascell Fellow bij het National Endowment for Democracy in Washington, waar hij werkte aan een essay over het mislukken van de Oranjerevolutie in Oekraïne.