EU-Ukraine relations

The EU and school windows

It was festive event for the residents of Yabluneve village, in 60 km from Ukraine’s capital Kyiv. Many important guests arrived there recently – EU and UN diplomats, Ukrainian officials, journalists. All together they celebrated… replacement of the old wooden windows in local school.

 

It could seem some comically. There were many ceremonial speeches, local choir singed folk songs, pupils declaimed verses with words of thanks to the EU and UN Devepolment Programme. The same style of such events was in Soviet time – nothing changed.

 

But reason for the celebration is quite new for Yabluneve.

 

Local school has been renovated with the help of EU funded project “Community based approach to local development” (CBA). It envisages innovative scheme. In order to get money, residents had create local civil organization, all together define priorities for the village and write out project.

 

In other words – the aim of the EU in this case is not simply give money, but encourage civil activity and unity among residents. It is really valuable approach. A big post-Soviet mental problem of Ukrainian society is to wait for any help from state or somewhere else instead try solve own problems by itself.

 

Modernization of the school in Yabluneve costed 16 000, CBA gave half of that sum. The rest was collected by local administration, business and local community. Encouraged by successful implementation of this micro-project, the residents are going to improve kindergarten, renovate stadium etc.

 

Yabluneve is one of many villages participating in CBA. The project has huge success through all Ukraine. Its first stage with budget of about 13 mln started in 2007 and listed to mid-2011. About 1300 micro-projects has been implemented in more that 1000 villages. Since СВА was very welcomed by local communities and local authorities, the EU and UNDP decided to continue it. Second phase of the project is implementing now with total budget more that 17 mln. The EU gives more than 98% of this sum.

 

EU support for civil activity in Ukraine became now more important than ever. Actually, the Ukraine’s main problem is not president Yanukovich and corrupt, undemocratic establishment. Problem number one is the Ukrainians – often inert, disconnected, with Soviet mentality and without awareness of own potential. It will not be real pro-European transformations without transformations within society. The EU can really help in this, and CBA project is an illustrative example.

 

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