The situation in Ukraine was
among the most debated topics during the Charlemagne Prize ceremony. The winner
Herman van Rompoy was greeted by the Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk
and his appearance in Aachen
led to a protest in front of the City Hall where the ceremony took place.
The protest was divided into two groups and
despite the fact that both sides consisted of Russians, Germans and Ukrainians,
their opinions about the situation in Ukraine were in strong contrast. Both
sides claimed that they were protesting against the war, but their ideas of “who
is wrong” and “who is right” weren’t the same. Some of the national winners of
the Youth Charlemagne Prize pointed out that this is due to the “information war”
between the two countries.
“We don’t want war and Russian propaganda in
our home country. The people on the other side of the protest read only Russian newspapers and
watch only Russian TV,” said an Ukrainian woman on the pro-Ukraine side of the
protest, while the people around her where shouting “Putin – terrorist!”
Minutes later they started singing the Ukrainian national anthem.
Most of the people on the other side of the
protest came from the same background: emigrants from Russia, Ukraine
and Belarus that have
arrived in West Europe many years ago,
searching for a better life.
“We admire Putin,” said two Russian women who
have been living in Germany
for 23 years. “We want to ask the politicians who are here today why haven’t
they invited him to give a speech.”
Asked about how do they learn about what is
going on in Ukraine,
they explained that they are watching Ukrainian and Russian TV, but they are
disappointed that often the different TV channels use exactly the same pictures
to tell their stories.
Interestingly, Ukraine was present in at least one
of the projects that were presented in the European Charlemagne Youth Prize.
national winner is a competition organized by Bite the Ballot – a project trying to increase young people’s motivation
to vote. The participants in “Inspired impressions” have to answer a single
question with a photo. That might sound easy, but the question is challenging: “What does it mean to be an European in
2014?” The competition was open to all citizens of member states, but the
organizers are especially impressed by an entry from Ukraine. Katherina Ozeranets adds
to her picture of the Maidan: “It means to build your future with your own hands.
And don't forget your heroes."
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