In early July, the annual Ukraine Reform Conference took place in Toronto, Canada. Launched by the Government of Ukraine in 2017, the conference brought together Ukrainian and international government officials, top-level businessmen, representatives of EU, NATO, G7 and civil society around important reforms in Ukraine, including fundamental reform of local self-government and territorial organization of power.
This year, the Conference was attended by experts, ministers and representatives of ministries, local self-governments, European and Canadian diplomatic missions, international technical assistance projects, and the President of Ukraine. The Ukrainian delegation was joined by the AH heads from each oblast of Ukraine. The Swiss-Ukrainian project “Decentralisation Support in Ukraine” (DESPRO) invited village starostas – representatives of the new position in the Ukrainian self-government – to attend the Conference.
“I was impressed by the ministerial day of the conference. Many countries sincerely support Ukraine! It was pleased to hear that each country calls itself a friend of Ukraine and expresses support. This inspires and drives even more to build a strong Ukrainian statehood,” said Iryna Nedobuga, head of the Blahovishchenka village of the Komysh-Zoryanska AH of the Zaporizhzhia Oblast.
Tamara Kiryan, head of the Pyrohy village of the Hlobynska AH in the Poltava Oblast, took part in the panel discussion “Decentralisation in Action”. According to her, decentralisation has opened up great opportunities for hromadas and civil society development in Ukraine.
«It is amazing how the residents cherish, appreciate their history. We have seen many museums and venues with historical theatrical performances, where people volunteer to stage performances,” shared her impressions Olena Kinash, head of the Vasylivka village of the Solonyanska AH in the Dnipropetrovsk Oblast.
<= An example of attention to historic buildings in Canada was the Mary Webb Centre, a former church. It was almost destroyed when it was bought by local activists, repaired and opened as a cultural and arts centre.
“Preserving and integrating historical heritage is an important element in accelerating decentralisation in Ukraine," convinces Tamara Kiryan.
Now the starosta plans to implement, together with residents, local historians and ethnographers, the projects for the preservation and integration of cultural heritage into the modern diversity of cultural space.
According to starostas, the visit to Canada, in addition to useful experience and pleasant impressions, confirmed that Ukraine, pursuing decentralisation, is moving the right way towards building an economically strong country.
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