Next stop: John Paul II Catholic University of Lublin – European Studies! #2

It’s our second post about studying European Studies at the John Paul II Catholic University of Lublin (KUL). Check what international students have to say about our studies!

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Seungchul Baek (European Studies, III year)

Seungchul Baek (South Korea)

My name is Seungchul Baek, and I am a third-year student of European Studies at KUL. I still remember that I was not able to understand the first lecture at all, because of my terrible English at that time and partially because of the professors’ Polish accent I had never heard before I came here, but now I have already finished my dissertation and nearly finished the whole degree programme. It has been a great experience to study and live here for three years. I have learnt many things and met a variety of people I would have never met if I did not come here. I am proud of myself not only because of finishing my Bachelor’s degree successfully but also because of coming here where completely different people speak completely unfamiliar language for me.

I have always been interested in Europe since I was a child. For that reason, European Studies sounded like a perfect programme for me. There are some South Korean universities that have European studies, but I thought it would be better to come and see Europe on my own as I study, and it was the best choice in my life.

Sometimes Polish higher education is said to be loose in terms of workload. Some students from other countries say that they study a lot less here than they did in their home country. For that reason some say Polish education level is not as high as other countries’, but I disagree with it. Not only was the workload here enough for me, but also a tough system or a huge amount of workload does not mean that the country or the university has a good education system. Moreover, you learn many things outside the university by travelling and socialising. As I have been studying here, I have learnt many things for my life as well.

Valerian Karchava (Georgia)

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Valerian Karchava (European Studies, II year)

My name is Valerian Karchava, and I come from Georgia. I am a 2nd year European Studies student at KUL. People often ask me why I chose this field of study and how I got know about KUL. Well, before coming to Poland I was studying Sociology at the Tbilisi State University. However, after a year of studying I began to realize that Sociology was not for me and decided to quit. My aim was to find some interesting course abroad that would be available to me but it seemed to be quite difficult. Since I was familiar with Poland and had also visited the country several times before I considered it would be the best idea to go there. After several days of searching I found European Studies course at the John Paul II Catholic University of Lublin. When I read the description of the course I was very impressed and happy that I found exactly what I was looking for. Moreover, I knew from my Polish friends that KUL was quite well-known university in Poland. So, after passing certain recruitment steps I was accepted and started studying.

After 2 years of studying I can openly say that the European Studies programme is exactly what I was looking for. It is professionally oriented programme with a distinctly international character, preparing students for international careers in a wide range of fields. Through various types of lectures, exercises and workshops we become familiar with Europe and its many dimensions. This programme enables us to have a rich background in our European origins and development, it provides students with the opportunity to study contemporary European culture and society and its continuing impact upon today’s world. Furthermore, we learn about the European Union and its legal structure that is very useful for every European. European Studies programme provides the knowledge that I think is needed to have if you want to work in an international environment(such as European Union institutions), in the business community, a non-governmental organization or the civil service.

I would like to say that the study environment in the university is very good. Teachers are qualified, demanding and friendly at the same time and I am very happy with it.

So, if someone asks me if I am happy with my choice to study European studies at KUL, I would answer – yes! Yes because, I think, this field of study is very relevant to the time we live in now and it gives you many job opportunities in the future. So I encourage everyone who is interested in European culture, history, politics, functioning of the European Union and who dreams about working in the international environment to join European Studies at KUL!

Claudia Jacewicz (Poland/Germany)

Claudia Jacewicz ("Erasmus student" at KUL)

Claudia Jacewicz („Erasmus student” at KUL)

I am a third year European Studies student from Bremen, Germany(Universität Bremen) and I am currently in the final stage of my Erasmus year here at KUL in Lublin. Since my bachelor degree course provides its students to make a semester abroad in the fifth semester, I had to look for a good university and destination. I decided to look for universities in Poland, because I wanted to improve my Polish, as it is part of my language courses in Germany. The three destinations I chose were Wrocław, Lublin and Łódź, but in the end I was accepted at KUL in Lublin. At first I was a bit disappointed, because I really wanted to study in Wrocław, but the whole situation changed once the semester at KUL had started.

The university has a lot of different courses to offer. Especially the faculty of European Studies offers a variety of courses in the field of law, history and culture, though the main focus is still law. Even though I am usually not very focused on law in my studies, I enjoyed the majority of my courses; it was refreshing to focus on something different and new.

However, it was not only the courses that were different: The concept and structure of my university (and maybe German universities in general) is quite different to KUL. Even though my bachelor degree course in Germany consists of a small number of students (slightly more than 30 students), lectures and seminars let me feel a bit anonymous. A relation between the professor and students is hardly establishable. This is different at KUL, since most professors are encouraged to get to know their students. Most lectures and seminars seem to be a bit more like school classes, which makes them more interactive and therefore interesting.

All in all I enjoyed my stay at KUL. I actually enjoyed it so much that I extended my stay from one semester to two semesters, so that speaks for itself. This year abroad will definitely be kept in good memory.

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For more information on European Studies at the John Paul II Catholic University of Lublin please visit:

http://www.kul.pl/european-studies,24210.html

BA in European Studies:

http://www.kul.pl/bachelor-of-arts-in-european-studies-curriculum,art_28136.html

MA in European Studies:

http://www.kul.pl/master-of-arts-in-european-studies-curriculum,art_28137.html

Admission for the year 2015/2016:

http://www.kul.pl/admission-procedure,art_34687.html

APPLY NOW!

Reklamy

Eastern Partnership – the past and the present

Emil Wojtaluk

The Eastern Partnership (EaP) is an EU’s initiative bringing six Eastern countries closer to the Union. Being a partner country does not necessarily mean they will join the EU, it is more about closer political cooperation and economic integration with the Union. The project is aimed at Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine. The original proposal was created by Poland and Sweden in 2008, particularly its Foreign Ministers at the time – Radosław Sikorski and Carl Bildt. Officially proposed by both countries at General Affairs and External Relations Council, 26 May 2008 in Brussels. The Eastern Partnership was inaugurated by the European Union at Prague summit of 7th May 2009.

Carl Bildt(left) and Radek Sikorski(right) (photo: SERGEI SUPINSKY/AFP)

Carl Bildt(left) and Radek Sikorski(right) (photo: SERGEI SUPINSKY/AFP)

How does it work?

The project itself is established within European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) but the Eastern Partnership goes much more beyond, making it more flexible and adjusted to the needs of individual partner countries. It takes into account much more factors such the economic ties with Russia and its influence on EaP countries. This policy is much more different, having in mind the history and dependency of partner countries during Soviet Union times, but also nowadays. Some countries still did not reform its administration to be suitable to European needs, that is why the proper EU’s Eastern Policy is important – to show the way for conducting reforms and existing together in some kind of unified system. Even if such a partner country will never join the European Union, it will significantly reform its economy and the whole country legislation to be more visible and competitive on the international arena. Too much post-soviet standards are still in existence in EaP countries. The project is governed within two dimensions: bilateral and multilateral.

Source: eeas.europa.eu

Source: eeas.europa.eu

We can distinguish so-called Flagship initiatives. Projects implemented under flagship initiatives are aimed at supporting Eastern Partnership countries in the process of fulfilling bilateral dimension targets, such as conducting reforms and meeting European norms and standards. There are five initiatives, one of them is “Integrated Border Management” – inter alia about visa facilitation or assistance in demarcation of internationally recognized border, which happened in case of Belarusian-Ukrainian border. The Eastern Partnership is also very institutionalized having Euronest Parliamentary Assembly or Civil Society Forum – which was launched to unite representatives of non-governmental organizations from partner countries and EU member states. In current budget perspective 4,1 billion euro will be provided for development of this project.

EaP Summits

The Eastern Partnership summits shape the guidelines to be met until the next meeting of EaP countries and EU member states. The period between the previous and next summit is more or less 2 years. The first Eastern Partnership Summit was held in Prague on May 7, 2009.

Source: © 2013 Office of the President of the Republic of Lithuania, Photo by R. Dačkus

Source: © 2013 Office of the President of the Republic of Lithuania, Photo by R. Dačkus

As the first it established guidelines for further development of the project, thematic platforms and ended up with specific goals to be achieved in the Joint Declaration of the Prague Eastern Partnership Summit. The second Eastern Partnership Summit was held in Warsaw on 29-30 September, 2011. One important fact was that Belarus boycotted Warsaw summit stating that “the EU discriminate President Lukashenka” because he cannot attend any summit. It is the result of long lasting regime in Belarus, where the elections are forged since many years. If the situation improves, the EU will warmly welcome Belarus as participant in summits and EaP activities. The last and the most “reforming” Eastern Partnership summit was the Vilnius summit of 28-29 November 2013. Azerbaijan has signed a visa facilitation agreement with the EU, the Union has also initialized Association Agreements between Moldova and Georgia (including DCFTAs). The most expected event to happen was signing the agreements with Ukraine. EU was technically ready to sign Association Agreement with Ukraine but President Yanukovych announced he will not sign the agreement and move closer to the Euroasian Economic Union developed by Russia. That is why protests that lead to his overthrowing began. The next Eastern Partnership summit will be held in Riga, Latvia in May 2015, which is seen as the most important summit to be organized in EaP history, especially at the time of Russian activities in Ukraine.

Sikorski on Russia’s attitude

Marshal SIkorski(in the middle) at the Atlantic Council(Photo: twitter.com/AtlanticCouncil)

Marshal Sikorski(in the middle) at the Atlantic Council(Photo: twitter.com/AtlanticCouncil)

Last Friday, on 30th January 2015 one of the creators of this Eastern project was invited to share his views at the Atlantic Council in Washington D.C. – Radosław Sikorski, current Marshal of Polish Sejm (Speaker of the Lower House of Parliament). He participated in the event Europe’s East: Mapping Europe’s Strategic Landscape[1]. In his opinion 10 years ago it was possible to imagine that Russia was on the convergence course by joining our institutions like The Council of Europe, World Trade Organization, NATO-Russia Council. We had some disagreements but the rules seemed to be accepted. Now we are on a different trend – Russia is considering withdrawing from the Council of Europe, OSCE rules have been violated. According to Sikorski we face the prospect of either having to accept Russia’s rules or live in a world of no rules. We have also another problem, how not diplomatic language is being used by Russian diplomacy. In a recent interview Sergey Lavrov has said that “if Ukraine drops neutrality then further partition will follow” – that’s pre-modern way in Sikorski’s opinion. And I must say that I fully agree with it, the language that is being used by Russia is totally unacceptable, not to mention about its actions. Sikorski thinks that USA should be more decided in its actions and show the way for others. Russia sees the Eastern Partnership as very provocative move from the EU. Mr Sikorski has said that

“in current perspective 4,1 bln euro is going to be spent on things like Integrated Border Management(…) or anti-corruption training program and I can’t see how can it be a geopolitical challenge to anybody”.

Ukraine – a strategic Eastern Partnership member

It is not a new information that Ukraine is the most populous and the most important country for the Eastern Partnership. The future of this country means at the same time future of the whole East project. Since the end of 2013 Ukraine is experiencing both economic and political problems.

EaP countries marked in orange (source: wikipedia.org)

EaP countries marked in orange (source: wikipedia.org)

Overthrowing of President Victor Yanukovych was a sign for Russia that they can lose control over the region and that the Ukraine backed by Western countries will not be so much exposed on threats, also economic ones. Russian policy towards “near abroad” can be compared to Soviet times, when it was enough to threat of military intervention or economic blockade. Now, the times has changed but Russian attitude towards the West is still very provocative. The Ukrainian conflict has shown us that it is probably the second Cold War period in history. Even if there are more and more evidences that Russia is supplying the so called “separatists” in military equipment and sending its undercover troops, it is always denied by the President Putin or Foreign Minister of Russia, Sergey Lavrov. The European Union never claimed that the Eastern Partnership Project is targeted against Russian interests, if the partner country does not want to sign the agreements with the Union it is a normal thing. Respecting democracy and sovereignty of EaP countries the EU has never threatened its Eastern partners by any kind of economic restrictions, which Russia does over and over again. The country of Russia is not respecting basic principles of the United Nations such as the “self-determination” principle – it means that each country has the right to decide about its own future. The future of the EaP also depends on the results of the Riga Summit, which for sure will be very important in drafting the new strategy, I would say the “crisis strategy”. I hope the reforms of EaP will be possible to achieve. A very important fact is that the sanctions imposed on Russia are working, but I think they were implemented too late. My opinion is that the lack of strong reaction of the World (including the EU), to Russian invasion in Georgia in 2008 was like an encouragement for President Putin to invade other countries in the future. He felt that no one can oppose to his ideas so he can invade others without any worries.

To conclude, there is no unanimity in the EU as for Russian activities. The situation is changing all the time, and that is why there is no clear answer on what can happen in the future. The EU should speak as one voice, that is the key. Let us also not forget, that the success of the Eastern Partnership depends on the willingness of the partner countries to share European standards and values.

[1] The full video is available here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WZRGv-dwpEE