The objective of a two-day meeting of the “Ambassadors of Transition in the Regions” was to share experiences and familiarize participants with the subject of international cooperation. However, the main objective was to integrate the environment of Polish organizations operating abroad. The meeting was participated by almost 70 representatives of NGOs implementing projects subsidized under the “Region in Transition” (RITA) Program in such countries as Ukraine, Belarus, Armenia, Georgia and Russia as well as the operators of the “Study Tours to Poland” initiative.
“The Ukrainians themselves must play the main role in the transformation process, must make order in their home affairs. However, Poland shall continue its assistance, through such non-governmental organizations as those which are present here today,” said Andrew Nagorski, Chairman of the Polish-American Freedom Foundation’s Board of Directors in his lecture on Poland-East-US relations in last 25 years. Ha also added that the role of the United States is becoming more and more important as a result of the situation in Ukraine because they must be able to meet the requirements of the role of the world leader.
The participants of the meeting, working in three workshop groups, presented their projects and shared experiences gained during their implementation.
They also took part in the debate on “The use the potential of changes. What steps need to be taken after Maidan?” moderated by Andrzej Urbanik, Secretary of the Civic Committee of Solidarity with Ukraine. They considered the prospects for the democratic changes taking place in Ukraine, the role of Polish NGOs in supporting them and the idea of maintaining the civic activity and strengthening Ukrainian local communities.
Workshops were conducted by experts from various organizations during which five parallel debates on situation in selected countries were carried out. Martyna Michalik from the Education for Democracy Foundation moderated the workshop on Ukraine, Pavel Usov from the Belarussian Centre for European studies conducted the workshop on Belarus, Anna Maria Dyner from the Polish Institute of International Affairs – on Russia, Wiesława Kowalska from the „Pyzdry Echo Association – on Moldova, and Marzena Rafalska from the “Educator” Association – on Georgia.
The meeting also presented an opportunity to show videos on the most interesting activities subsidized under the „RITA” Program.
The PAFF’s „Region in Transition” (RITA) Program, implemented since 2000 by the Education for Democracy Foundation, is addressed to non-governmental organizations and educational institutions willing to share Poland’s experiences of social and economic transformation with partners from other Eastern European countries as well as Caucasus and Central Asia. So far 808 projects have been subsidized under open grant competitions. The important component of the Program is the “Study Tours to Poland” initiative, started in 2004, as part of which the study tours to Poland have been organized to familiarize active citizens, including student leaders and young professionals of Eastern Europe, with the realities of Poland and the European Union. To date, a total of 5800 persons have participated in the visits. The initiative has been managed by the Jan Nowak Jeziorański’s College of Eastern Europe.