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Виступ Tetiana Stanieva на Association of European Border Regions - AEBR/AGEG/ARFE ( Сербія) 2022

The speech on Association of European Border Regions - AEBR / AGEG / ARFE conference

Good morning/afternoon, my name is Tetiana Stanieva. I'm from Ukraine. And it seems to me that today this is enough to understand who I am and what I feel at the moment. For now, this is more important than any of my other titles and achievements.

I didn’t plan to but before I start talking about my region, its pain, and its specifics and briefly describe the projects we are implementing there, I would like to talk to you seriously.


I will not repeat the news, but right now Putin did his next crime trying to annex our boarding region and this morning my friend died, he was a teacher, who went to the front line to defend his land. Yesterday in Dnipro region the Russian bomb killed one family, that moved from the town to the village hoping it is more safety there. And they all died except there dog which was looking for its owner on ruin of there houses. So we see there is no safety places in Ukraine. And yesterday they bombed humanitarian convoy, 28 people died, more than 50 are in the hospital. Just imagine, the same amount as we are here. And there are thousands of such stories. I want to honor the memory of all innocent Ukrainians with a moment of silence.

Sines the February 24, the heartbeat of my country stopped as Russia started dirty and unwarranted aggression. I don't know if mankind has ever seen a more treacherous war than this one. But from that day on, I don't live. The people of my country don't live, either. Someone in the literal sense, and someone like me — as if I breathe, as if I move, but I do not feel the real life. Our economy and our normal rhythm of life have stopped, and people have lost their jobs, homes, and, worse, their loved ones. Millions have become refugees or internally displaced people. And using this possibility I want to thank all European countries for supporting Ukraine and helping our refuges. We have no plans for the future, and we don't even know if we have the future. There are no concerts, film screenings or other entertainments, no cultural development. We all exist, hoping that there's some sense in living.

And if I die tomorrow because of Russian bomb or nuclear weapon and we will not see each other any more I want you to fulfill my last will. Please do not be indifferent in this war. Help Ukraine to win. Because we defend not only our freedom but all the civilization all democratic and Europian principals/

I would like to give you, each of you, something important and symbolic in memory of Ukraine. This is a trident—our coat of arms. It is engraved with 4 letters of the Ukrainian word VOLIA, which means freedom. This is our religion. “Freedom or Death”—this code runs through our veins. The Trident is on a red thread as a symbol of the blood being shed now in my country to protect our land, our language, our culture, and our identity.

Please help Ukraine to survive! I don’t want to die! But I don’t want to live without Ukraine! I don’t need this life if I lost my home. I don't know how whether it is not a great sin in Christianity or any other religion to love a land on this planet so much and to be so attached to it. To love freedom so much. To hate the enemy so much. But that's how I feel. I’m sorry.


So I cant talk about our cultural projects now, because there are no projects now. I cant talk about future projects because I don’t know if we have this future. But I can tell you how we lived BEFORE this shameful war was unleashed by the terrorist country Russia. And I have great hope that we will live even better after the victory of Ukraine over the aggressor.

2. So were I’m from?

Bessarabia is the sunny southern part of Ukraine within the Odesa region. It can really become a model of friendly coexistence and mutual respect for each other. It is a multinational and multicultural region. The territory of freedom and harmony. Bessarabia is like Voevodino.

3. Cultural products as a way to resist Russian propaganda..

Russian propaganda constantly uses a fake about the oppression of national minorities by Ukraine. The truth is that the language of interethnic communication of all national minorities of Bessarabia is Russian. This happened historically, as a result of being a part of the Soviet Union, on the one hand, and the long, violent, often bloody Russification of this region particularly and Ukraine the whole, on the other hand. My class was the first to study Ukrainian, and one of the first to study my native Bulgarian at a Ukrainian school. That is, the revival of Bulgarians, Gagauzians, Moldovans, Romanians, and Albanians of my region, and their self-awareness and self-identification began only in the 90s when Ukraine became independent. But Russian propaganda has had a considerable impact in that region since then. And in 2014 – 2015, there was a real threat of the creation of the so-called Bessarabia People's Republic, like the similar quasi-states of Donetsk People's Republic and Luhansk People's Republic on the East. But thanks to God and the Security Service of Ukraine, this did not happen. We began creating cultural products that tell the truth and debunk myths to counter Russian propaganda. One of the successful tools, for example, is documentaries. That's why I've created a documentary about my native village of Krynychne (Chushmelii). As I've mentioned, I am Bulgarian. And Ukrainian Bulgarians, like all other ethnic communities there, will always have two roots in their heart, but one home. And this home is Ukraine. In Uzbekistan, there's a special way of growing melons: a melon root is grafted to a camel's thorn root. This is how it draws water from the desert land. So are we. If you pull out one of the roots, I will wither and if you pull out the other, I will die. The documentary clearly shows this.

4. Our culture is our weapon. Cultural products, like movies, books, and festivals, are weapons of soft influence and mild Ukrainization, but they are also powerful tools for mass destruction. (відеозвіт з двох едицій)

So, we see that our culture is a real weapon. If the information war is lost, tanks enter the battle. That’s why we have created the “OKO” International Ethnographic Film Festival — a celebration of ethnographic diversity, where you can see, hear and feel the heartbeat of small and large nations through films. I always say that if there were more such festivals and films, there would be no wars in the world. Our goal with the film festival is to promote tolerance and to teach people to value their own and respect others' cultures. It creates an intercultural dialogue that lays the foundation for further cooperation. The cultural diversity of Ukraine is its wealth, which we can be proud of. You are watching a video of the last two editions held in Ukraine. This year, because of the war with Russia, we are holding the third edition of the “OKO” film festival in Poland as part of the Camerimage international film festival in Toruń.

5. The project “OKO Travels” as a tool of cultural diplomacy.

To develop cultural diplomacy, we have created a project within the project - “OKO travels” with a program “Look at Ukraine with other eyes”. The program consists of films about Ukraine, discussion panels, Ukrainian songs, photo exhibitions, and free communication with film directors and speakers. This allows you to get involved in the film topic and learn more about the history and culture of Ukraine. We were in Bulgaria in May, you can see the video. After Poland, we plan to visit Finland, then go to Bulgaria again. And we look forward to your invitation to your country. We would love to come and hold, for example, movie nights about Ukraine. If you are interested in cooperation, I can send a presentation with this project separately.


6. The film “She” is a newsreel about the war in Ukraine. It is filmed in Bolhrad. (Усі сторінки презентації «Вона» англійською)

I'm currently working on the documentary film called “She” — about women of servicemen. So far, one period of filming has been accomplished thanks to crowdfunding. I underline there is no money for culture in the country now. We are looking for funding and partnerships everywhere to continue further filming. The next shooting session is set for October 17.

The film is a diary of the military wives

Genre: Documentary, docu-fiction, film-observation.

Method: Contemplation, and therefore without an existing deadline for the end of the project.

Duration: Full-length (up to 100 min).

Author of the script and director: Tetiana Stanieva.

Logline: Every war has a personal story behind it, and behind every serviceman, there's his wife. What is her strength, role, and mission in the war in Ukraine? What do such women dream about? How do they wait, and whether they will wait for the meeting with loved ones and fulfill their dreams?



“She” is a film about the fate of a woman during the war. But “she” is also Ukraine, a war, a motherland, a mother, a family, and a dream. These terms in Ukrainian are all feminine. Three women, who are waiting for their husbands from the war, are the focus of this documentary. There are three love stories, three different dreams, three women of different ages and professions with different periods of marriage, from different regions, from different ethnic communities, who find themselves in one city (Bolhrad, Odesa region, Ukraine) after the 24th, get to know each other and start a volunteer movement. The husbands of the heroines love and cherish their wives and families. One has already raised two daughters, the second one is raising a small son, and the third one is only dreaming of having a baby. But on February 24, these men have to choose between the two most precious things in life — their family and Ukraine. After all, they go to the front. At this time, their wives create a volunteer center, help the army, collect and take humanitarian aid to their men's positions, and meet their dead military blood brothers. The women go through different obstacles, believe in victory, and dream of the return of their husbands, meeting their relatives, and new life after the victory.

The viewer can watch the life of the heroines during the war in Ukraine; the evolution of their relationship with children and relatives; their dedication to volunteering and short moments of rest; their patience and ability to overcome the stress, so that in the end, after the victory, they can look forward to returning and long-awaited meeting with beloved ones. What will it be like? When? What transformations will each couple go through? Will they be able to save their love and realize their dreams? Or maybe someone will never return?

This is a story about great love for each other, family, and Ukraine. Each family of militaries is a small Ukraine that they defend. Thanks to the war, these things become identical. Ukraine is becoming one big family.

So, the main problem in Ukraine is the war now. The second one is the lack of funding for culture. All the colleagues understand that even after the victory it will be very difficult to continue working in this field. First, I call on all of you, Europe, the whole world, don't be silent about the pain of Ukraine. Because Ukraine stands for the protection of European values and civilization, for the protection of democracies and culture, justice, and truth. Today, Russia is trying to destroy exactly that and not only in Ukraine. Second, I call for partnership. Help Ukraine to be heard through culture and cultural products, strengthen its voice, and win in the struggle for its existence. And for the existence of the world. Thank you for your attention. I am ready to answer your questions.

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