We need to be united. And to live and work as if we already live in the country we are dreaming of

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The International Diplomatic Magazine “Fashion of Diplomacy” celebrates two years anniversary since publishing of its first issue. Anna Avramenko, founder and Editor-in-Chief of FD magazine, founder of Parade of Nations, founder of Diplomatic Golf Cup, tells how the project of the country’s largest diplomatic magazine began.

Today Anna and her team have united all their initiatives in the international project office – Ukraine Unites.

You started with a small project. Will you tell us how you managed to grow into one of the most powerful representatives of Ukrainian cultural diplomacy?

– Three years ago, there were two of us – my husband and I. We were concerned about the situation that was going on in Ukraine and all over the world. So we understood: it is necessary to create something in order to provide credible information about Ukraine globally. We thought it should be an Internet portal. At first, there were no Ukraine unites. We were working on Fashion of Diplomacy. We wanted to unite diplomats.

I think every person is a diplomat, absolutely everyone. If we, as tourists, go abroad – we are diplomats, too. Because we, as Ukrainians, represent our culture and our traditions there: how we get dressed, how we speak, how we behave. We did not feel like becoming a kind of diplomatic Bible either, I mean, a collection of rules, prohibitions and explanations. Therefore, we added the word “fashion” and created a portal.

We need to be united. And to live and work as if we already live in the country we are dreaming of

Just the two of us, started to fill it with quality news content after our workday. That is we were doing ordinary rewriting. Watched ukr.net, Google, searched for news, stories, and reports. Something positive about Ukraine.

Four months later, we began to see how people without a single penny spent on advertising international experts started reading us. And the portal itself began to be searched and read by people from other countries. Enquiries came from the US and Europe.

So we realized that the portal is just not enough, we needed something else. We received a certificate and created a magazine on the basis of the portal under the same brand. The first issue was released on June 1, 2017. We got it published as a “pilot” edition of one thousand copies and noticed that there was a demand for good information. Not just exclamations like: “Let’s believe in a bright future! Everything’s fi ne! Let’s smile!” No. If it’s analytics, then only a good one, if it’s an interview, then with someone positive and worthwhile.

However, you went the extra mile.

– In just two months after the first issue of the magazine, getting ready for the third one, we organized the 1st International Round Table. It was exactly following the 25 anniversary of independence of Ukraine (it was the 26th year already).

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We need to be united. And to live and work as if we already live in the country we are dreaming of

We saw the reaction of the international community in Ukraine to our event, again without advertising. Everyone responded. People were stepping up. It became clear that it is necessary to do it. And 18 months later, last summer, we already got a big six-vector enterprise. We managed to launch the project office of Ukraine Unites.

Now we have three national issues: the magazine, web portal, International Diplomatic Internet portal dip.org.ua.

Ukraine Unites provides access to the knowledge base, the database of contacts for everyone who works within the development of diplomacy in Ukraine. We are ready to make it public, so that others also receive something positive, and the image of Ukraine gets better.

We need to be united. And to live and work as if we already live in the country we are dreaming of

You work with international diplomats, communicating with them on a regular basis. How does the international community respond to the recent events in Ukraine?

– I can assure you that we have very active and loyal international friends. They are ready to provide their support and lend a shoulder at any time. This was before, and after the election of the President of Ukraine, our state has not lost support. So all we have to do is come and say: we need help, and we’re willing to work, not beg alms. On the contrary, we must show our worth.

Our nation has great potential. We are talented and successful in the IT sector, in the agricultural sector, in construction, in the arts, and needless to say – everywhere we can show the result.

Therefore, I am very pleased to hear the words of Volodymyr Zelenskyy, who understands that it is necessary not to beg, but to unite us all together, into the Ukrainian nation and just do our job.

We need to be united. And to live and work as if we already live in the country we are dreaming ofA significant part of your team’s work deals with the functions of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Information Policy, Directorate-General for Rendering Services to Diplomatic Missions, and sometimes the Ministry of culture. However, you are a commercial structure, are your initiatives supported by the Ministries and do you obtain any financial assistance from the state?

– Yes, indeed, if we consider all our work, projects, media, business meetings, let us say that this is partly the work of our ministries.

But we do not lay claims to receive recognition or someone’s benefits. As I’ve mentioned in my previous answers, we set our goal: to act, to unite and to help. That is, go ahead and do something and show an example to others. We are, of course, very pleased that we are supported by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, they contribute to our cause informationally. If there are also issues related to other ministries, we address to them and they help us. But this help is informational. There are programs supporting cultural diplomacy at the state level. But so far we have not succeeded to reach the level of such cooperation. We create our projects not for this, but contrary to this.

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There is a very popular expression nowadays: public and cultural diplomacy. How do you treat it?

– The term has become popular recently. The urgent need for such activities began to be felt with the beginning of the war in 2014. And it was necessary to fight at once on all fronts – both inside the country and to represent us in the world. Public and cultural diplomacy is soft power policy. Where the Ministry of Foreign Affairs cannot push through officially, one can always find a common language in another way.

But recently this concept has been smoothened and lost its primary task – to defend interests of Ukraine. At every turn, those who do not deal with this activity attach themselves to it. I think there should be a limit; otherwise, we will lose not only the essence, but also opportunities, as a country in the first place. I mean that measures, information editions, and exhibitions done by Ukrainians and about Ukraine should be at such a level that nothing could be said against it.

We need to be united. And to live and work as if we already live in the country we are dreaming of

Your projects bring together people from various countries and different cultures. What inspires you?

– When I started, there was anxiety because of what was going on. We started thinking that we need something good and positive in the information field, something that unites us.

To do something that will open people’s eyes. To help to believe in that good, to see it well, to gather people together, to smile, to tell, to give the opportunity to express themselves. It inspires me!

Probably, it is one of the socially responsible points in one’s life – when you reach a certain level, a certain age with a certain knowledge. To the point when it is the time to change something by your own example. Not just say: “Let’s change.” But exactly by your own example, slowly, bit by bit, to turn it into a positive experience. I really hope it helps people.

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We need to be united. And to live and work as if we already live in the country we are dreaming of
Надзвичайний і Повноважний Посол Республіки Узбекистан Абдуалієв Алішер Хабібуллайович. Анна Авраменко

What personal principles and beliefs do you adhere to in your life and work?

– I have three rules, as cliché as it sounds. They are simple. First, believe in what you’re doing. Second, go ahead and do it. Don’t talk, don’t think, don’t analyze – just do it. If you believe, you just go ahead and make it happen.

Third, learn to enjoy what you’re doing.

What is the biggest problem of our society?

– People have ceased to believe and to trust. We need, all of us need to do more – to give more opportunities to feel our love, our kindness.

We also need to take certain responsibility for our actions towards ourselves and others. It is crucial that changing the country and the world everyone started with themselves. Then other people would probably listen. They’d begin to share with one another. I believe in recent years there has been some loss of time and opportunities. This has been going on since about 1991–92. People did not continue to pass on their values. I mean, the more we took it up, believed, acted, felt only what is good, then perhaps it would turn in a good, human world without borders, so to speak.

We need to be united. And to live and work as if we already live in the country we are dreaming of

What way of development should Ukrainians choose to stand in the maelstrom of geopolitical confrontation?

– We need to be united. My great grandma (she always lived next to us, she had no children of her own, and we were like her grandchildren) always said: “Kids, you have to comprehend that a twig to a twig is already a broom. If we have a broom, we can sweep the house. That’s when we become unbreakable, because one twig can be broken, but when together it is not so easy to destroy it.” This applies to all Ukrainians: in the East and West, South and North, and beyond our state. Now there is a big threat to lose the most precious thing – freedom and independence, for which we fought for centuries.

Only together we will be able to overcome the trouble that is approaching. The world cannot save us from ourselves – from discord, corruption, despondency, and populism. There are tasks that must be accomplished on our own. Civil duty is not only to come and vote once every five years. But during these five years to live and work as if we already live in the country we are dreaming of. Then the dream will come true.