Ukrainian and Lithuanian National Day 2023 - featuring President Volodymyr Zelenskyy

Last week, a series of cultural and intellectual activities related to the National Day of Ukraine and Lithuania took place. The students of the College of Europe in Natolin enjoyed various events, such as art exhibitions, concerts, lectures, and even a lecture by President Volodymyr ZELENSKYY.

The activities began on Tuesday 24 February, with the opening of the art exhibition "Mariupol Unconquered". A total of 17 paintings by different authors were exhibited in the Retinger building. The paintings were mostly rescued from the Ukrainian city of Mariupol and showed an artistic portrait of the suffering brought by Russian aggression. Some were painted after the Russian occupation of the city and were smuggled out of the city.

More than 80 students gathered on Tuesday evening to listen to the words of the cultural manager of the Ukrainian Embassy during the opening event. Afterward, the students held a discussion that revolved around the possibility that a regime change in the Kremlin could end the aggression against Ukraine.

Thursday 26 February was entirely dedicated to the culture of both Lithuania and Ukraine. More than 35 students participated in the lecture: "Cultural Diplomacy at War" given by the Director of the Ukrainian Institute, Mr Volodymyr SHEIKO, who addressed the students online from Kyiv.

Following the lecture, the students had the opportunity to enjoy a piano concert in the Natolin Palace, offered by Mr Airidas BANEVIČIUS, the only Lithuanian student in Natolin. Airidas performed several pieces by the Lithuanian composer M.K. CIURLIONIS. On the same evening, the student organizers presented to their peers a selection of short films from Lithuania and Ukraine, with the titles: « Community Gardens » from Lithuania; and the Ukrainian series « Golden love ».

The big day of the week was undoubtedly Friday. More than 120 students from Natolin, and 250 from Bruges followed a conference with the digital participation of the President of Ukraine, Mr Volodymyr ZELENSKYY. After the students welcomed their peers, the Vice-Rector of the College of Europe in Natolin, Mrs Ewa OŚNIECKA-TAMECKA gave welcoming remarks, followed by Rector Mrs Federica MOGHERINI. Finally, the President of Ukraine addressed the students with a short and inspiring message on building the European future.

Following President ZELENSKYY's speech, a message was delivered by the President of Lithuania, Mr Gitanas NAUSĖDA, who addressed the students of the College of Europe. After listening to it, the President took several questions from the students of both campuses.

After the main event, students and guests of the embassies enjoyed a traditional Lithuanian and Ukrainian dinner. Natolin's Restaurant, decorated with typical regional decorations, offered a special buffet to celebrate the occasion. During dinner, the students offered a selection of Lithuanian wines and cheeses.

The closing of the week was held that evening at the Winter Garden in Natolin, where the Ukrainian folk band Monysto performed for the students, staff, and guests. The Ukrainian and Lithuanian days proved to be an enriching experience for the entire Natolin community.

The events were documented on our Flickr and YouTube channels (both below).

27.01.2023 - President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy and President of Lithuania Gitanas Nausėda speaking at Natolin