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The combined sixth and seventh DSC session took place on April 6-7, 2019, i.e. between the first and second rounds of Ukraine’s presidential elections. Main themes of the session were Ukraine’s foreign relations, the role of women in Ukrainian politics, and the ongoing presidential elections in Ukraine. Several high-level experts came to the Centre to share their vision of Ukraine’s future and prospects for its development.

In the first presentation of the session, on Satuday morning, Andreas von Schumann from GIZ Kyiv Office for Political Communication introduced a systematic study “Ukraine in the Eyes of Germany – Images and Impressions of a Country in Transition” thas was published by GIZ in 2018 in Ukrainian, German and English. Mr. von Schumann brought hard copies of the study in Ukrainian for all scholars. The study in three languages is available for free download from the website: . Mr. von Schumann outlined the specific objectives and methodology of the study aimed at finding out how well-informed German experts on Ukraine perceive Ukraine, and how they evaluate German views on Ukrainian affairs. Mr. von Schuman has emphasized that in some ways, this study says much more about Germans than about Ukrainians. In that it reveals the preconceptions and interpretational frame with which German experts and non-experts conceptualize Ukraine’s history, present, and future.

The next presentation, “Strengthening the Role of Women in Modern Societies”, was delivered by Kateryna Yushchenko, not merely the wife of former President Viktor Yushchenko, but also a very successful government official and a businesswoman in her own right. She spoke not only about the women’s role in Ukraine. Mrs. Yushchenko also touched upon the general issue concerning renewal of Ukrainian society and especially state institutions, as well as development of civil society, the economy and culture from below. Perhaps, she gave the most inspiring talk of all presentations delivered during 2018-2019 DSC year until then. She stayed in the DSC office for more than two hours rather than scheduled one hour, and continued discussion with the scholars after her presentation.

The third presentation within the first day of the 6th-7th DSC session was delivered by Natalia Lynnyk, Deputy General Director of the Committee of Voters of Ukraine. It was agreed upon ad hoc, only the day before the event. Lynnyk analyzed the first round of the presidential elections which took place a few days before, and considered the factors that enabled Volodymyr Zelensky to win the first round. She made predictions for the second round and shared her first-hand experience of working as the Head of Ukraine’s leading NGO dealing with election observation. Her presentation triggered a controversial discussion among the scholars and turned this meeting into a heated debate about the prospects for Ukraine under President Zelensky. The remaining time of that Saturday session was devoted to group work in four project groups.

The whole second day of the 6th-7th DSC session was devoted to the training “Mediation and Dialogue” by Anna Gorina, a reputed specialist from the Ukrainian Mediation Center. At her interactive training Gorina illustrated that, in her own words, “A conflict is a disagreement of opposing interests, goals, positions, opinions of two or more people. Observations show that 80% of conflicts arise despite the choices of their participants. Conflicts may be hidden or open, but they are always based on a lack of agreement. Basic techniques required to prevent conflict: don’t respond to aggression with aggression; don’t insult or humiliate your opponent either with a word, or a gesture or a look; give your opponent a chance to speak; try to express your understanding in connection with the difficulties encountered by your opponent; don’t make quick conclusions and don’t give immediate advice; let your opponent discuss problems in a relaxed atmosphere.” (We shall thank Olena Ogorodnik for this quote!) The training was highly appreciated by the scholars because it provided them with many useful and practical techniques that could be implemented for solving conflicts in their future careers.

That is all news from the combined sixth and seventh working session of the DSC. We will keep you updated!

Materials for the session: