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