Democracy and Diaspora conference brings together experts on post Soviet

The European Lithuanian Cultural Centre in Germany together with the Vytautas Magnus University (Kaunas, Lithuania) organised a conference entitled Democracy and Diaspora on 20-22 September 2011 in Lampertheim-Hüttenfeld, Germany (close to Frankfurt/Main).

The main objective of the conference was to ‘promote a productive and sustainable dialogue between experts and representatives of the Lithuanian, Belarusian, Moldavian and Ukrainian émigré communities concerning the effect that the Diaspora has had and can have on the process of the democratisation of their homelands.’

On the one hand, the project consisted of a workshop for young leaders from the Belarusian, Moldavian, Ukrainian and Lithuanian émigré communities to discuss the development of democratic and civil societies from a theoretical and practical point of view and to exchange experience gathered in the countries involved.

On the other hand it brought together influential minds from the four émigré communities to analyse the past and present impact of each Diaspora on the development of democratic traditions in their homelands, as well as to brainstorm with regards to measures which could be taken to facilitate these processes in the future. The venue of the conference was Rennhof Manor in Lampertheim-Hüttenfeld (Germany), a unique location harbouring numerous Lithuanian organizations, which has figured as the centre of Lithuanian émigré community life in Western Europe since 1953.

Andy Hunder, Director of the Ukrainian Institute in London, made a presentation entitled Ukrainian Diaspora and 20 years of Independence, during which he focussed on the 4 waves of Ukrainian emigration, Diaspora during the Soviet Era, Independence, the role of the Church, Orange Revolution, the divide between Diaspora and their homeland, successes and a way of moving forward.

An edited English language publication with the conference proceedings and results will appear in December 2011.