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Ukrainian studies saved at the University of Greifswald

02.11.2015

The Federal Foreign Office and Land Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania have secured the future of Ukrainian studies, which enjoy a status that is unique in Germany, at the Ernst Moritz Arndt University of Greifswald. Thanks to the agreement reached by the Federal Foreign Office and the Ministry of Education, Science and Culture of Land Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, Ukrainian studies in Greifswald have been given a new lease of life for the coming years. Moreover, Baltic studies will also continue to be taught at the university with a separate course.

Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier issued the following statement on 2 November 2015:

We need expert knowledge and regional competence in Germany more than ever before, especially in view of the crises in our immediate neighbourhood. I am firmly convinced that we will only be able to find viable foreign policy solutions by trying to see the world through others’ eyes, learning to understand their dreams and traumas better and expanding our horizons.

This applies all the more to cultural regions in eastern Europe that have, until now, enjoyed far too little attention. I am therefore even more delighted that we have managed to secure the future of Ukrainian and Baltic studies at the University of Greifswald for the coming years.

The institute for Slavic studies in Greifswald has had a special focus on Ukrainian studies since 1996. The Ukrainian language, literature and culture are accorded a level of importance at the university that is unique in Germany. There had been concerns recently that Ukrainian and Baltic studies were at risk of being discontinued in Greifswald.The Federal Foreign Office and Land Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania have therefore agreed to retain a separate chair for Ukrainian studies at the University of Greifswald on a permanent basis. Moreover, an academic qualification position will be created at the institute for Baltic studies. The costs for the next ten years of around 1.6 million euros will be shared by the Federal Foreign Office, Land Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania and the University of Greifswald.

The coalition parties of the Federal Government agreed in the coalition agreement of 2013 to provide solid foundations for competence in the area of Russia and eastern Europe in Germany and to strengthen academic and analytical expertise on the region. Thanks to an amendment to Article 91b of the German Basic Law, the Federation and the Länder have greatly expanded their scope for cooperation in the higher education sector for cases of supra-regional significance. This also has an impact on strengthening so-called “rare disciplines”.

The Minister of Education of Land Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, Mathias Brodkorb, said he was relieved in light of the joint efforts made: “I am very grateful to the Foreign Minister that the Federal Government is willing to help Land Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania and the University of Greifswald to continue degree programmes in Ukrainian and Baltic studies. The value of these subjects cannot be measured by the number of students alone, but above all by taking into account their cultural, academic and foreign policy significance in a Europe that is becoming increasingly united. This important step would not have been possible were it not for the Foreign Minister’s unbureaucratic assistance.

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