The downfall of communism in Central and Eastern Europe ushered in a new, historical stage in Polish-Ukrainian relations. The new situation has created new opportunities and it requires new initiatives that provide for the best possible use of both nations’ regained freedom and opens a perspective of close relations and permanent cooperation for the young generation of Poles and Ukrainians, to the benefit of individuals, interests of both countries and nations, as well as the whole region.
This great task of European proportions is a task for the political elite taking decisions now, but it will eventually be realized by the young generation of Poles and Ukrainians. This generation needs to be given conditions to prepare a historically significant program, which will, on the one hand, have human, social, economic and political significance, and, on the other hand, a fully practical, cognitive dimension.
This aim and this concrete program should be fulfilled by founding a school that would bring together scholars, teachers, and, above all, youth; whose task would be to educate Polish and Ukrainian elites so they can promote cooperation between both countries; a school with long-term goals, open to the current cultural, social, economic and political needs, and capable of facing future challenges, yet undefined.
The European College of Polish and Ukrainian Universities in Lublin (ECPUU) was created to be a starting point for such a school. It was founded in 2000, with the support of the Ukraniian and Polish authorities of that time, by Polish and Ukrainian public universities: Maria Sklodowska Curie University in Lublin, the John Paul II Catholic University of Lublin, the National Taras Shevchenko University of Kiev, the Ivan Franko National University of Lviv, the Ntaional University of Kyiv-Mohyla Academy, and the Central and Eastern Europe Institute.
The meeting of the Polish presidents – Aleksander Kwasniewski and Leonid Kuchma – during the College’s first academic year inauguration in 200 was symbolic. The same year, on 27 October the then Ukrainian Prime Minister, Victor Jushchenko unveiled the name plate on the College’s building.
During the decade of its work the European College of Polish and Ukrainian Universities was scientifically and educationally active. Distinguished European scholars and politicians that have given open lectures at the College include: Bohdan Osadchuk, Jaroslav Isajewich, Mykola Zhulynskyi, Adam Rotfeld, Zbigniew Kruszewski, Jerzy Kłoczowski, Jerzy Buzek, Daniel Beauvois, Paul Moreau, Chantal Millon-Delsol, Antoine Assai, Giovanna Brogi Berkoff, Oxana Pachlovska and others. The College organized numerous conferences, book presentations and other cultural and educational events. 105 PhD theses have been prepared during this time, all of which contributed to the development of European science.
The College’s basic aim is educating the future Polish and Ukrainian elites to promowe cooperation between the two countries and appreciate their neighbour’s sensitivity and character. The European dimension takes a special place in the ECPUU mission – the College intends to actively shape the European awareness among young Poles and Ukrainians, as well as young people from other Central and Eastern European countries, so that they continue the task of European integration.
Icluding the subject of Central- Ekstern Europe, including Polish-Ukrainian relations, in the European research is the key aspect of the College’s activity. On the other hand, its task is to promote Polish-Ukrainian academic cooperation, which is especially important now, when the Polish-Ukrainian border has become the EU border. Future graduates should become spokespeople for the Ukrainian – and Central European – issues in the integrating Europe.