Head of the Lviv Regional Goverment

 

Academic conference: “The Ukrainian cooperative movement”

Opening: “Perspectives of cooperative movement in Ukraine in terms of public policy”

June, 13

 

Dear ladies and gentlemen,

Dear fathers,

Dear ladies and gentlemen,

 

I am pleased to felicitate all of you present here on holding the first Ecumenical Social Week in Lviv. Up till now Ukraine has not had an experience in conducting social ecumenical weeks. This tradition is maintained in France and a number of other states. We are glad that this year we will stage the first such event in Ukraine.

In my opinion, a socially oriented society must necessarily be either well-to-do, or comparatively well-off. A poor society cannot carry out to a full extent all social responsibilities before those who need such. And consequently, under our to-day conditions, an economy of a country must be an organic part and partial of the world economy. Without a complete access to the markets of technologies, services and commodities we will not be able to build modern socially responsible business.

It is a symbolical fact that this Ecumenical Social Week is taking place now after Ukraine has entered WOT (World Organization of Trade) and has every chance to become a competent partner to European economic structures. You remember that after that occasion, debates sparked off at all political levels involving economists, too. Of course, it could not but touch all spheres of economic life, including the problems of co-operation so often talked and written about presently as though by chance. In fact, there is no fluke herein, as Ukrainian co-operation has got old traditions and findings.

However, as it follows from many publications, Ukrainian co-operation is often reduced to consumer co-operation inherited from the system of command management. Whereas our traditional co-operation is a specific economic phenomenon with considerable achievements in economic theory and practice. Hence, it is obvious that we cannot but briefly touch upon it.

Ukrainian co-operative movement as a type of social solidarity was launched in the last third of the nineteenth century and has been perfecting its forms for a long time since. This can be exemplified by the activities of an “artel (cooperative association of workmen or peasants) father” Mykola Levytskyi who tried to implement the idea of co-operation in the Ukrainian village. He received recognition for these efforts not only in Ukraine but in other countries, too, as he was a member of European co-operative alliance.

At the close of the 19th - beginning of the 20th century co-operative movement spread all over Ukraine. It became a powerful economic organization mainly in the sphere of agriculture and was getting into other sectors of economy, including bank-financial industry. Two co-operative congresses testified to the power of Ukrainian co-operation at the turn of the twentieth century. The first meeting that took place in Lviv (1909) welcomed speakers from West and East Ukraine and by doing so laid emphasis on the unity and the collective nature of both Ukrainian land and economic activities. In 1913 in Kyiv, the national Ukrainian co-operative convention, where Ukrainian co-operators played the leading part, proclaimed slogans of self dependence. With this action co-operation showed that it was a powerful economic basis for our people’s aspirations to self-dependence.

Thus it is no wonder that in the period of state rivalry of 1917 – 1922 cooperation became the economic support for the young Ukrainian state. The occupation of Ukraine engendered tragic impact on co-operation which in its traditionally decorative forms actually halted existence while its helmsman, organizers and ideologists filled up Soviet concentration camps already in the early 20s of the last century.

As a result, in the period between two world wars organizational centers of Ukrainian co-operation shifted to Western Ukrainian territories, where it was still possible to develop co-operative movement within the framework of interwar Poland. Due to efforts of all Ukrainians after a short period co-operation grew into a powerful economic organization on Western Ukrainian territories.

Agricultural co-operation proved a conspicuous success, in particular, the dairy association, which was headed by “Maslosoyuz” (Butterunion). The dairy co-operation became a Ukrainian economic legend, in fact, as it united thousands of peasants’ economies and sold off butter to many European countries successfully competing with such producers of dairy products as Belgium and Denmark.

Similar facts confirm convincingly that Ukraine can feel confident in WOT and compete successfully at the European and world markets all the more so it succeeded in doing that under worse historical circumstances, with a better consolidation and mobilization of efforts than today, though. Attainments of Ukrainian co-operation between the First and Second World Wars were not a gift of fate but a result of persistent labour of all intellectual forces of the nation, who understood well that economy was a basic dimension which determined the life of the nation. Without a strong economy a nation possesses no future.

This viewpoint has served as a mobilizing impetus for all conscious forces. First and foremost it refers to theorists and organizers of Ukrainian co-operation who were among personalities of international scale. For instance, the author of “Social Bases of Co-operation” (1916), Michael Tuhan-Baranovskyi is well-known in the whole world, and his classical work is translated into many languages. Serhiy Borodayevskyi wrote the first “History of Co-operations”, delivered lectures at the International Co-operative Institute, contributed to the development of co-operation in Czechia.

It is also possible to name other theorists of domestic co-operation, among them even clergymen. Metropolitan Andrey Sheptytskiy encouraged every priest to open a cooperative association or a shop in the parish. That advice is especially sensible today.

It is worth reminding once again here that Ukrainian co-operation can stem from and make use of the previous experience of co-operative movement, of theoretical and organizational work. To this end, we will need desire and, above all things, national sense of social solidarity. Only on this ground will it be possible to develop co-operation, which will also become the basis for Ukraine in WOT and its integration into European economic space.

Our effective work will eliminate all risks the opponents of our entrance into WOT and European space have scared us of. First of all, we will need to mount all forms of production and organization on innovative rails, to manufacture cheap and high-quality products. It is the best argument to maintain our national dignity. This very testament was left by prominent theorists and organizers of Ukrainian co-operation that can overcome difficulties in all spheres of both economic and spiritual life, because, as a poet and co-operator Ostap Lutskyi said, Ukrainian co-operation looks not only at the earth but also at the stars. Let us head to such co-operations stimulated and inspirited by the national idea, fearless of no threatening effects of Ukraine’s entry either into WOT or into the biggest market in the world – the market of the European Union.

 

Thank you for attention.

 

I wish the forum successful work.