Dr. Marta Barandiy, born and raised in Ukraine, is seeking to be the first Ukrainian-Belgian to enter into the European Parliament in the upcoming elections.

Why are you running for office? 

As I am a known Belgo-Ukrainian due to my activism in Brussels, I was offered a first place on the list to the European Parliament by the new Flemish liberal party Voor U. I have been around politics for ten years now, advocated for the interests of Ukrainian people, and I can bring this experience forward for Flanders, Belgium, and Europe as a whole. Stronger defense, Migration based on European values, and Voice of Civil Society are the three main points of my program. We have an emergency situation where Russian aggression and interference in the internal affairs of the EU need a more efficient response. With the far-rights winning electorate we may get into a situation where democracy gets under the risk that soon it will remain a history.  

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What do you mean “migration based on European values?”Migrants arriving to EU countries should value human rights as the basis for all the further integration into the communities of the countries and regions. Bottom-up initiatives, mentorship programs and study projects securing this principle should be supported. Besides, the law regarding migration should be respectedHow does your political party align with your reasons for running?Voor U (For You) is a new political party established in December 2023 by Els Ampe – a senator and Member of Flemish Parliament. It is a liberal party with 12 main points that all candidates must agree on (mentioned on vooru.be). We are free to express all other views as we see fit. The party stands against particratie where the party decides for its representatives in the Parliaments on how to vote. It will be our first elections but we have already gained support from the people who signed for us to be able to run, and we are running to all the parliaments in Flanders: Flemish, Federal, Brussels and European.

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How has public opinion in Belgium changed in regards to Ukraine? 

After the full-scale invasion, support grew drastically. Even now, two years into the war, 58 percent of Belgians support European integration of Ukraine and military and financial support.

Outside of the context of Ukraine, how does Russia seek to undermine Belgium?There are plenty of Russian so-called diplomats in Belgium who are in fact Russian lobbyists and spies. Cognitive warfare through social media, bribery of politicians like far-right party's Vlaams-Belang are actions that undermine Belgium and harm democracy.

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You're from Lviv but are now in Belgium: How did you end up there?

When I studied in Lviv I got an opportunity to do an exchange program in Austria and Belgium. The first time I came to Brussels was for an internship at the European Parliament in 2004. After I finished all my studies, also the ones in Germany in 2011, I returned to Belgium to stay. I worked at Volvo Group as a problem solver, then represented the biggest law firm of Ukraine here, and when Crimea got occupied, I started Promote Ukraine – an NGO that defends the interests of Ukrainian people.

What kind of work does Promote Ukraine do?

Throughout the years, Promote Ukraine has been expanding its network and expertise on the most burning issues of European integration of Ukraine. Hundreds of events organized by our volunteers have been visited by tens of thousands of people. But the main addressee of our work have always been decision-makers. We have always tried our best to make them understand that their support is needed for the people of Ukraine who want the same beautiful and free Europe in Ukraine as they have here. To achieve that, victory is indispensable. That is the main message for now. We all stand for the same thing – our human rights should be protected, and defended when needed.

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