Martin Reuther, Head of our Western Branch, who lived at that time in Uzhhorod, went for one day to Slovakia.
Background information: In 2019 Martin bought a house in the village Zelenyj Hai; the property should become key part of our big project entitled Dubno Development Hub. Thanks to Wikipedia Martin got to know, that in the village in earlier times lived Ukrainians from Slovakia (Rusyns), this was in 1947 and a part of an Agreement between Tschechoslovakia and Sovjetunion; currently we are gathering more information about this issue and are already in contacts with scholars in Ukraine and Slovakia.
So, on this winter morning Martin went to Sloavkia, first to Prešov, the capital of Prešovkij Kraj, and then to Barderjov district. In Cigelka he met the Head of the Village and they discussed in a warm and friendly atmosphere the past and the future of relations between the regions and the two countries. Martin plunged into the history of Ukrainians in Slovakia and met people, who lived (or are ancestors of those) in Zelenyj Hai and surroundings.
Indeed, Cigelka is a calm and peaceful place, located in the Lower Beskids, only a footwalk to the state border with Poland.
In the afternoon Martin arrived in Bardejov, where he met active citizens and member of Basta, a local leading NGO, which realizes great projects; they did renovation of a major touristic site, the tower, which is part of the historical fortification wall. In 1986, by the way, the old town became part of UNESCO World Cultural Heritage.
Martin was happy to meet all this interesting people, some of them had origins in Ukraine, one woman told Martin that her parents met in Rivne and returned to Slovakia in the 1990ies.
Of course, in Cigelka and Bardejov were discussed possible ways of future cooperation; the Slovakian side is interested to get more involved, but for now there is no project yet. There is a need to gather and spread information, the idea came up to conduct a conference at Dubno Castle on this topic, but up to now, that’s just an idea; it is obvious that, considering the interesting history between the regions Presov and Volyn, interesting exchange projects could be realized; they could involve, for instance, youth from both countries or artists and to create the needed climate of interest, understanding and trust for future cooperation between villages, cities and regions of the two countries.
PS: Back in Ukraine Martin with representatives of General Consulate of Slovak Republic in Uzhhorod as well as with the head of the village of Varkovichy, where Zelenyj Hai belongs to. Currently we prepare Memorandums of Understanding with our new partners and set up an Slovakian-Ukrainian working group (multicultural committee, MCC) to coordinate further steps to be done in 2020.