FORUM ON EUROPEAN CULTURE
An initiative by DutchCulture & De Balie

Statement: Vasyl Cherepanyn – What Ukraine needs

Vasyl Cherepanyn, director of the Visual Culture Research Center in Kiev spoke at the Final Statement in Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam.  Read the full statement:

What ‘Europe’ does Ukraine need?

Putting the question on Europe this way obviously reminds of the famous Freud’s question that has never been answered, “What does a woman want?” Having ‘need’ instead of ‘want’ inverts the perspective – the Europe that Ukraine wants apparently differs from the Europe Ukraine really needs. Even more, the Europe needed for Ukraine is also the one needed for Europe itself, even if its current embodiment in the form of the EU would not be longing for it.

First of all, the Europe that we all need today is Europe of Enlightenment. It is the centrality of freedom and democracy, foremost the freedom to use one’s intelligence – “Dare to know!”, as Kant stated it succinctly. Challenging the traditional authorities, this principle results in secularization, so much required at the times of religious fundamentalisms, and has led to the Declaration of Human Rights, the Declaration of Independence of the USA, to the end of slavery and aristocracy.

Secondly, the Europe we need today is Europe of modernity. It is readiness to create utopias for social change, to search for political alternatives, the priority of equality, and anti-conservatism. Modernity also means aesthetical revolution – emancipation of art and its ability to capture our experience in its wholeness. Modernity, as we know from Habermas, is an unfinished project – as Europe itself, both need fulfillment and accomplishment.

Thirdly, the Europe we need is Europe of the Spring of the Peoples – the most widespread revolutionary wave in European history, changing political leadership, increasing peoples’ participation in governments, bringing freedom of press and the end of serfdom in Eastern Europe. Today Europe is experiencing a new spring of the peoples – immigrants, refugees, and escapers from the warfare in Europe’s south and east are coming from different sides and changing Europe onwards.

To accomplish the European project nowadays means to fulfill its most urgent need that is establishing the European citizenship. Overcoming the limits of the nation-states in Europe is creating the first international democracy – the European International based on the common European citizenship.

Europe needs a Re-Union. The current model of the EU has to be renewed and expanded to deal with the new global political challenges and to apply its principles and rules on the whole European continent.

Constitution of the European citizenship would be the best European revolution one can ever imagine.

Res publica est res populi.