President’s wife Olena Zelenska and Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Austria to Ukraine Gernot Pfandler agreed to establish cooperation in the framework of the Biarritz Partnership. In particular, it is about getting Austrian expertise in building an inclusive and barrier free environment.
Olena Zelenska initiated Ukraine's accession to the Biarritz Partnership launched by the G7 countries to promote gender equality last December during the opening of the Third Ukrainian Women's Congress.
The commitments Ukraine is undertaking as a member of the Partnership, in addition to combating violence and empowering women, include the creation of an inclusive and barrier free environment that is universal and friendly to families with children and low-mobility groups.
Representatives of the Ministry for Communities and Territories Development of Ukraine addressed the President’s wife with a request to assist in facilitating the exchange of experience between Austria and Ukraine in the process of preparing the action plan for creating a universal environment.
Austria is one of the countries demonstrating a world leadership in building a safe, accessible and comfortable architectural environment. It is natural that Ukrainian experts are interested not only in the Austrian colleagues' experience in the practical implementation of the barrier free concept, but also in the mechanisms of supervision and control of objects during the construction phase and after commissioning. One of the important points is the adaptation of existing buildings.
During a meeting with the First Lady, Austrian Ambassador to Ukraine Gernot Pfandler stressed that his country had done tremendous work to create a universal environment in recent years. According to Mr. Ambassador, since Austria is a federal state, many decisions depend primarily on local authorities. “The experience of the city of Vienna, which has many years of expertise in this area, will be particularly useful. And it can also be an appropriate impetus for the expansion of long-standing cooperation between Vienna and Ukraine,” Gernot Pfandler said.
The parties agreed that Ukrainian experts would establish contacts with the relevant Austrian institutions. The plans include an invitation of Austrian experts to Ukraine, as well as a visit of the Ukrainian delegation to Vienna.
Olena Zelenska is also planning to hold a meeting with Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Federal Republic of Germany to Ukraine Anka Feldhusen in the near future. Germany is another leading country whose experience will be useful for Ukraine in creating a barrier free environment.