The Deputy Speaker of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine Olena Kondratiuk took part in the International Conference “Vilnius – the centre of unification of the Ukrainian diaspora”.

The event was held in the Seimas of Lithuania with the participation of the leadership of the Lithuanian Parliament and Government, as well as representatives of the Ukrainian diaspora.

“I thank the organisers for an important event aimed at uniting the efforts of diaspora organisations with the Lithuanian Parliament and Government to continue supporting and assisting the Ukrainian people in the difficult times of the protracted phase of the war,” said Olena Kondratiuk via online connection.

She emphasised that since 24 February 2022, Lithuania, including non-governmental initiatives, has provided over €1 billion in assistance to Ukraine. This is almost 1.5% of the country’s GDP, while more than €60 million has been donated by ordinary Lithuanian citizens.

“62% of Lithuanians actively support Ukraine in one way or another. This is a unique manifestation of solidarity! We appreciate every contribution that helps bring our victory closer. On behalf of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine, I thank Lithuania for its sincere and comprehensive support and shelter for 80,000 of our internally displaced persons. The vast majority of them are women and children,” said Olena Kondratiuk.

Almost 13,000 Ukrainian children currently attend Lithuanian schools and kindergartens.

“We are grateful for the employment of Ukrainian teachers and the creation of conditions for more than three thousand children to study in Ukrainian in public and private schools in Vilnius, Klaipeda, Siauliai and Kaunas. This is extremely important for the Ukrainian diaspora and IDPs. Our children should know the state language of the host country, but at the same time not lose their identity and connection with the Motherland,” said Olena Kondratiuk.

Before russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, more than 28 thousand ethnic Ukrainians lived in Lithuania. They accounted for 1.4% of the country’s population and were the fourth largest national community.

“Today, together with the IDPs, almost 100,000 Ukrainians live and work in friendly Lithuania. Of these, 23,000 live in Vilnius, which has been awarded the honorary title of ‘City of Rescue’ in Ukraine,” the Vice Speaker said.

She also drew attention to the fact that, according to the Ukrainian World Congress, our diaspora numbers more than 20 million people in 70 countries.

“We need to intensify the activities of the Ukrainian diaspora in the regions that are difficult for Ukraine. Where the positions of russia and russian propaganda are traditionally strong. First of all, we are talking about the Global South. Especially in Latin America,” said Olena Kondratiuk.

According to the Vice Speaker, this is quite possible if we work systematically with these countries, communicate and convey the truth about the russian invasion of Ukraine and its consequences.

“The experience of working and maintaining relations with the Lithuanian diaspora, which is under the care of Ms Dalia Asanaviciute as the elected representative of Lithuanians abroad in the Seimas, is also interesting and useful for us. We also discussed this issue during a meeting with Ms Dalia in the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine in July this year,” said Olena Kondratiuk.

The Vice Speaker is convinced that studying this experience is important. After all, one of the main post-war challenges for Ukraine “will be the return of millions of Ukrainian citizens home and the involvement of the potential and capabilities of the new wave of the Ukrainian diaspora to rebuild our country.”

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