University of Fribourg draws together experts on Ukrainian-Polish relations ahead of Euro 2012

A fortnight before the start of the UEFA Euro 2012 football finals, leading scholars, international journalists and political analysts convened in Switzerland to discuss the social, economic, political and cultural perspectives of the relationship of the two neighboring states over the past two centuries.

The University of Fribourg, in cooperation with the Embassies of Poland and Ukraine, and the Ukrainian Society of Switzerland, hosted an international scholarly Symposium ‘From Battlegrounds to Football Fields: Poland and Ukraine in the 20th and 21st Centuries’ on 24-25 May 2012, in the capital of the Swiss canton of Fribourg.

The event kicked off on Thursday, May 24th, with a panel discussion entitled: Euro 2012: Cohesion and Controversies, which looked at how the football championship, a once in a generation event, is perceived in Poland and Ukraine. The two-day conference was opened by Andrej N. Lushnycky, President of the Ukrainian Society of Switzerland, followed by speeches from Ihor Dir, Ukraine’s Ambassador to Switzerland, and Guido Vergauwen, Rector of the University of Fribourg. A lively discussion followed featuring key experts Katya Gorchinskaya (Deputy-Editor, Kyiv Post), Aleksandra Hnatiuk (Head, Common Program of the National University Kyiv Mohyla Academy and the University of Warsaw), Andrzej Szeptycki (Insitute of International Relations, Warsaw) and Leszek Jesien (Collegium Civitas University,Warsaw). The panel discussion was moderated by Christophe von Werdt from the University of Berne.

The scholarly Symposium took place throughout Friday, May 25, and included presentations from internationally renowned scholars, Siegfried Weichlein, (University of Fribourg), Jan Jacek Bruski, (Jagiellonian University, Cracow), Oleksandra Kunovska, (University of Fribourg), Yaroslav Hrytsak,  (Ukrainian Catholic University, Lviv), Mykola Riabchuk, (Ukrainian Center for Cultural Studies, Kyiv)  and Olya Onuch, (University of Oxford). The discussion moderators were Edward Swiderski, Professor of Philosophy, and Jens Herlth, Professor of Slavistics, both at the University of Fribourg.

Students and guests from Switzerland and across Europe attended the Symposium. Andy Hunder, Director of the Ukrainian institute in London, attended the event and commented: “This was a very well thought through and skillfully organised event uniting some of the leading experts on Ukrainian – Polish relations. The University of Fribourg put together a great Symposium, which focused on a very rich history of two nations with a turbulent past, who are now together hosting Europe’s biggest festival of football.”

The key driver behind the Symposium was Andrej N. Lushnycky, President of Ukrainian Society of Switzerland. There are currently around 5000 Ukrainians living throughout the Swiss Confederation.