We condemn Russia’s war in Ukraine and express our deepest solidarity with the people of Ukraine who are now bearing the heaviest burden of all Europeans from the fallout of this war. The terror of the invasion and the plight of the refugees have had a paralysing effect on those who are watching this tragedy unfold, but it also spurs people into action. The political, social and cultural implications this war has for all societies affected by the war are inestimable. Punitive and military sanctions will not suffice to put an end to authoritarianism, racism, militant nationalism, violence on the basis of social, gender, or sexual identities, and ecological destruction. On its way to a social and cultural recovery, Europeans need the help of Ukrainian, but also of Belarussian and Russian citizens. Universities, cultural institutions, EU and nationally funded academic exchange programmes should not reproduce this war at the heart of Europe, but help to stop it. Responding to the proposed end of academic exchanges and academic boycotts, which threaten to isolate existing critical voices in Russia, we call on governments and NGOs to continue and expand their support of academics, students, and cultural workers at risk.
In the future we envision the creation of the University of New Europe (UNE) as a shared space of learning, research and dialogue. UNE will unite and empower students and staff from across Europe, with special attention for those parts of the continent where intellectual freedom is at risk and essential academic fields remain underdeveloped. Working in English, Russian and other languages, UNE will fill the gap created by political repressions against the leading East-European institutions of higher learning.