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September 18, 2001

 A Dialogue Decades in the Making:
Conference on Ukrainian-Moldovan-Romanian Relations Held in Chernivtsi

The idea of holding an international scholarly conference on Ukrainian-Moldovan-Romanian relations was put forward by academics of the Iurii Fedkovych National University in Chernivtsi and the Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies (CIUS) at the University of Alberta. This proposal was particularly attractive in view of previous conferences organized by CIUS on relations between Ukrainians and Russians, Germans, Jews, Poles, and Belarusians.

The conference was held at the Fedkovych National University on 16 and 17 May 2001. Its chief organizers were the Fedkovych National University, the Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies (which made the greatest financial contribution to the conference), the Chernivtsi Regional Government, and the Bukovynian Centre of Political Science. The conference was co-organized by the Chernivtsi Regional and City Councils, Stephen the Great University in Suceava, and the Moldovan State University.

The conference consisted of both plenary and special sessions. At the opening plenary session, participants were welcomed by Professor Stepan Kostyshyn, rector of the Fedkovych National University; Mr. Teofil Bauer, head of the Chernivtsi Regional Government; Mr. Ivan Shylepnytsky, head of the Chernivtsi Regional Council; Dr. Zenon Kohut, director of the Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies; diplomatic representatives of Romania and Ukraine; and other dignitaries. Dr. Serhii Plokhy (Edmonton) presented a paper on "The Son of the Moldavian Hospodar on the Kyivan Throne: Petro Mohyla as a Ruler of Rus'." The session concluded with a presentation by Ôtefan Purici (Suceava) about potential interregional dialogue with local administrative bodies in Romania.

Featured in the first session of the conference, entitled "Ukrainian-Romanian-Moldovan Relations in Pre-Modern Times," were controversial issues in Ukrainian, Moldovan and Romanian historiography. The session, chaired by Dr. Serhii Plokhy (Edmonton) and Dr. Vasyl Balukh (Chernivtsi), dealt with a broad range of questions. The second session, "The Era of National Rebirth: Reciprocal Influences and Their Projection onto the Historical Traditions of Ukraine, Romania and Moldova," was intense and controversial. This session was chaired by Dr. Zenon Kohut (Edmonton) and Dr. Vasyl Botushansky (Chernivtsi). Of the twenty papers presented, those dealing with the Ukrainian and Romanian national revivals in Bukovyna in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries aroused particular interest. A number of papers dealt with the formation of new nation-states after the First World War and the collapse of the East European empires.


At the second session, "The Bukovynian-Bessarabian Problem" was examined by scholars from Ukraine, Romania and Moldova. A broad range of ethnological and ethnographic questions pertaining to Ukrainian-Romanian-Moldovan relations was examined in presentations by Hryhorii Kozholianko (Chernivtsi), V. Iarova (ChiÕin|u), E. Postolachi (ChiÕin|u), and Jars Balan (Edmonton). Although they did not always reach agreement on problems of the relatively recent past, colleagues exchanged opinions and presented arguments in support of their views; they also familiarized themselves with new tendencies in domestic and foreign schools of thought concerning the problems under discussion. This enriched their knowledge and understanding of the development of scholarship in Ukraine, Romania and Moldova.

The third session, on "The Twentieth Century in Romanian-Ukrainian Relations: Pitfalls of Historicism and Resources of Political Pragmatism," brought together scholars interested in the recent past. Under the co-chairmanship of Anatolii Kruhlashov (Chernivtsi) and Ôtefan Purici (Suceava), twenty-five papers were delivered on a very broad range of topics, but the dominant theme was Ukrainian-Romanian-Moldovan international relations. Considerable attention was devoted to historical and diplomatic relations among these countries as perceived by the masses. Political scientists and sociologists of neighbouring countries availed themselves of the unique opportunity for professional exchange presented by this conference, analyzing the development of post-communist transformations, particularly of the political systems and political cultures of Ukraine, Romania and Moldova. This also involved theoretical and practical questions of cross-border and interregional collaboration between neighbouring countries.

The conference concluded with a plenary session that featured a presentation by A. Buteiko and V. Kotyk (Ukrainian embassy in Romania) entitled "The Ethnopolitical Factor in Contemporary Ukrainian-Romanian-Moldovan Relations." The co-chairmen of the section, Serhii Plokhy, Vasyl Botushansky and Anatolii Kruhlashov, summarized the work of the respective sections. Iurii Makar, the dean of the Department of History, offered suggestions concerning the conference recommendations. Conference participants resolved, first and foremost, that dialogue among scholars of Ukraine, Romania and Moldova, with the participation of interested researchers from other countries, should become a regular occurrence. Finally, participants expressed the hope that the scholarly discussion and friendly atmosphere prevailing at this conference should serve as an example to government and society in Ukraine, Romania and Moldova in strengthening good-neighbourly relations so as to promote a climate of trust and security in Eastern Europe.

By : Anatolii Kruglashov, Iurii Fedkovych National University in Chernivtsi





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