Oksana Bilozir: “Politics and art must serve people and country”

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Oksana Bilozir doesn’t need to be introduced. She is known all over Ukraine. That’s a woman who managed to combine a political career, diplomacy and volunteer activity without leaving her own musical business. Mrs. Oksana doesn’t run for new parliamentary elections, but she starts doing new things. In the interview, Oksana Bilozir tells “Fashion of diplomacy” about a future project, parliamentary achievements and creative plans.

You didn’t run for new parliamentary elections. What are you going to do?

I was a member of parliament four times. And when there was an option to be a deputy of Verkhovna Rada again, I realized, that I had to be engaged in some other field. I’m still an active public figure. I feel like working directly with public society. I start cooperating with IMTD international. It’s the American donor organization working with USAID and various charity institutions.

According to their calculations, Ukraine obtained dozens of billions of dollars for the years of independence. One question emerged: “Where is that money? How did it function?”. Because we don’t have any efficiency. That’s why, all donor help was revised not just for Ukraine, but Georgia, Moldova and other CIS countries including Asian nations. A new organization IMTD was established functioning without mediators.

Grant funds won’t be contributed to any state or public organization, that has a relation to government bodies. They will flow to a specific person. This program is called “Revitalization of Ukrainian economy through investments in small business”. I’ll be a speaker of this program and main political face. I’m looking forward to beginning of this work. I’ll have an opportunity to meet our people, work and give them hope, stop migration processes.

Oksana Bilozir: “Politics and art must serve people and country”

You had some legislative initiatives in this fi led, didn’t you?

I did. A family entrepreneurship bill was one of my last legislative initiatives in the eighth parliamentary term. It focuses on the creation of additional favorable tax field for a Ukrainian family of three members to set up their own business. I’d like our citizens to stay at home doing business instead of going somewhere abroad to earn money. We are trying to invest as much money as possible in this family entrepreneurship. In such a way we encourage people to act here working for yourself and native country.

What else did you do during this parliamentary term?

I chose a field of human security. We are in high-risk countries waging wars, in particular informational, mental and religious ones. All this stuff is concentrated in Ukraine. That’s why the issue of personal safety inside society must be a part of agenda for every country, government and president. I tried to shape the human security as a system in context of bills I delivered to the parliament for consideration. The human security is a protection of human rights. It means to protect rights for own freedom territory of every person. Bullying counteraction is my key bill in this trend. Any child has the right for safe education environment. Different forms of violence are unacceptable. My next bill in this system was related to mobbing. It’s violent behavior at work. The phenomenon is very widespread in Ukraine. The bill was submitted to the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine. But it was discarded. But we brought up the question.

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Inclusion is the next component of human security. Maryna Poroshenko was a pioneer in this sphere. She started with a support of handicapped children. But actually inclusion comprises an incorporation of the certain person to society. That’s why there is a great problem, that is still pressing. Inclusion also encompasses internally displaced people. These are people who went through ATO (Anti-Terrorist Operation) and their families. The country is still inactive.

We have some sporadic laws, but we don’t have a conceptual vision. That’s why I try to form it. Its three major components are the child, the adult and the families suffered from war. It’s a disease of our society. I’m going forward, I dropped a stone and waves are rising in this system.

Oksana Bilozir: “Politics and art must serve people and country”

Why did you become a politician?

I worked with parties and certain candidates at election districts. I communicated with people. Voters trusted their votes these people via trust to me. Then I understood, I could work in Parliament more efficient than those I support.

And I decided to try. To understand national processes. I started my studies at Diplomatic Academy of Ukraine at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine. That was my second higher education. I got a diploma with honor in two years. And since 1999 year I became an official representative of Yevhen Marchuk who sought the office of President. After that parliamentary elections began. I was acquainted with Petro Poroshenko and Viktor Yushchenko. And Petro Oleksiovych offered Viktor Andriovych to put me in the list. At first, it was the top five. When I dropped off an application, it was already the 35st place. And when I visited the party congress, I saw myself on the 70th position. But I made it clear for myself that it’s my new political path and I have to step up from the very beginning.

That time “Nasha Ukraina” got 70 mandates. I realized what a huge responsibility I was going to take. And I see a tendency for a lot of creative thinkers to go to Parliament. They have huge reasonable ambitions, but they don’t fully understand the level of responsibility. And it was the reason why I didn’t want to run for new parliamentary elections.

You were a Minister of culture and tourism. What did you manage to do in office?

I did a transformation. When I began my duties, it was the Ministry of culture and art.

Financing on leftovers. I changed the ministerial philosophy and united it with tourism. I set up a new format of the Ministry of culture and tourism in such a way. We stuck to the principle: art is a temple and tourism is a way to it. That time we established numerous tourist routes and festivals. Genuine national culture, traditions, trades became popular. People started building infrastructure – small hotels, restaurants, concert halls and fair spaces. A movement was coined inside the country. And it’s one of my biggest achievements, I believe. It’s like throwing a stone and water circles start spreading. Frankly speaking, other successive ministers destroyed everything. But it was impossible to stop the process.

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You are an Afghanistan war veteran. How did it happen?

In Soviet times it was just an obligation. We were said a lot of boys were there and we had to go to Afghanistan in order to keep their spirits up. And we did that. There were different moments. I was awarded with 4 medals. When the conflict began in Donbass, and I felt like I was in a waking nightmare. I even didn’t think, I’d release hostages in Donbass with boys who were with me in Afghanistan.

Oksana Bilozir: “Politics and art must serve people and country”

Do you often visit a zone of the Joint Forces Operation? It’s a great risk.

I was on a permanent there for half a year. When it was very hot in 2014–2015 I had a lot of things to do there. At first, I was a volunteer looking for hostages. My aides counted that I released about 326 people. It’s not just coming and taking, I sought for, made up lists, and arranged negotiations. It took me six months. I’m just thankful to God for giving me such an opportunity. God protected me because we got stuck in different situations and I felt help.

One of interesting facts in your biography – Order of the Star of Italy? How did you get it?

I had been in the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe for ten years. I prepared two reports. I mostly tried to help people. The first report dealt with the labor migration of women to Eastern Europe. I wanted to protect them.

The next report “The new Europe diaspora and the national and intergovernmental response”.

So, I proposed to impose responsibility of host states. They must protect all rights, namely legal, social, moral, physical and physiological ones. The most important thing was to develop communication between countries to be aware of the number of migrant workers. In this way we could support and protect them.

Our migrant workers still live in poverty or even in slavery due to some intermediary institutions. People must know that they have a contact to address to and get feedback. And it isn’t in action yet. I worked in this segment. And I had a lot of contacts with Italy, Spain. The protection of migrant workers is a reason why I was awarded with the order. I’m entitled to wear it together with Ukrainian orders.

Oksana Bilozir: “Politics and art must serve people and country”

You are involved not only in uniting Ukrainians inside Ukraine but our diaspora as well. What should the country pay attention to there?

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I divide them into three groups. Steady diaspora and labor migration. There is even the third group in particular Ukrainians living in indigenous Ukrainian territories. That’s villages and towns, where the Ukrainian language still exists in Poland, Hungary and Slovakia. Another approach should be used for these three groups. Totally different. We don’t have relevant instruments in Ukraine. The worst thing, these three groups have a lack of communication abroad. The Revolution of Dignity slightly united them. The world congress of Ukrainians does its best to unite them.

None of the president has outlined a priority of Ukrainians abroad as a part of foreign policy yet. Nobody gave them an opportunity to feel so that authorities need them not barely in word but truly in specific mechanisms of interaction.

How do you manage to combine your personal life, political career, and creative activity?

It’s just my life. I like an active way of life. Not the idle one. Show business has never been a job for me. It has always been a realization. A way of culture development. From young to old people know “Ukrainochka”. And it means a lot for me and, I believe, for all my country.

Will you share your creative plans with us?

I’m having new music recorded now. It inspires me so much. I’m working on my new album. On the 23st of August I’ll have a big concert dedicated to the anniversary of “Vatra” under the supervision of Ihor Bilozir. I want Ihor to be awarded with the title Hero of Ukraine posthumously. He deserves it. His songs run around in every Ukrainian house and all over the world. The Ukrainians would be much poor culturally without his musical heritage.


REFERENCE

Oksana Bilozir was a member of the Ukrainian Parliament four times (Verkhovna Rada). She was a head of the Ministry of culture.

Oksana Bilozir: “Politics and art must serve people and country”Candidate of Juridical Sciences, professor. She also has a master’s degree in foreign policy and diplomacy. She was a lecturer in the Institute of culture and art. Now she is working over doctor’s degree in Kyiv National University, Institute of political science. A national Ambassador of Ukraine. A participant in military operations. She is awarded with Order of Prince Yaroslav the Wise, numerous medals of ministries, departments and institutions.

She is the National Artist of Ukraine.

Head of Ukrainian public organization “Ukrainian mutual help” and the head of Ukrainian association “Female members of parliament”. Deputy Director of the National Commission on issues of Ukrainians living abroad.

I like travelling a lot. I like mountains. I’d advise everybody to visit Southern Ukraine. Everybody should see Pink lake. It’s unique. And also White lake in Polesya. And the Carpathians are worth seeing, – Oksana Bilozir advises.