Podium Discussion and Book Presentation with EU commissioner Johannes Hahn at the Austrian Embassy in Berlin

Christian Wehrschütz; Andrij Melnyk; Anne Bercio; Niels Annen (v.l.n.r.)

On Wednesday, April 22 2015, a podium discussion took place at the Austrian Embassy in Berlin. The event was hosted by the Austrian Culture Forum (Öster­re­ichisches Kultur­forum). A key focus of the evening was the presen­tation of the book “Brennpunkt Ukraine: Gespräche über ein gespaltenes Land” by Austrian author and corre­spondent of the Austrian national broad­caster ORF (Öster­re­ichischer Rundfunk) Christian Wehrschütz. The book was published in 2014 by Styria Verlag.

The event began with a keynote speech by Johannes Hahn, EU commis­sioner for European Neigh­borhood Policy & Enlargement Negoti­a­tions. The speech was followed by a podium discussion with the Ukrainian ambas­sador to Germany Andrij Melnyk, spokesman on Foreign Affairs of the SPD Parlia­mentary Group Niels Annen, and author and corre­spondent of the Austrian national broad­caster ORF Christian Wehrschütz. The moder­ation was carried out by Anne Bercio, research associate and senior project manager at the Institut für Europäische Politik (IEP) in charge of the program series for the imple­men­tation of the EU Associ­ation Agreement with Ukraine.

Key topics of the evening were security in Ukraine, the role of the EU and Germany, the imple­men­tation of Minsk II, and the status and future of reforms of the Ukrainian government. One key topic was inter­nally displaced persons (IDP) in Ukraine. Ambas­sador Melnyk estimated the number of regis­tered IDPs at about 1.2 million. Only IDPs who register are able to receive financial support from the government. This is currently one of the largest obstacles, as not everybody, especially pensioners, are unable to access the regis­tration offices. Johannes Hahn’s keynote speech concluded noting that the current situation in Ukraine is “serious, but not hopeless.” Hahn also noted that the safety and security of the people in Ukraine is currently the highest priority, which will also be a topic at the EU-Ukraine summit and the subse­quent conference on April 27–28 in Kiev.