The first step towards the creation of a Polish-Ukrainian university in Lublin, southeast Poland, has been taken, with the formal foundation of the Polish-Ukrainian European College.
The Act of Foundation was signed by the rectors of Lublin's two universities, the Maria Sklodowska-Curie University and the Catholic University of Lublin. The two universities will organise the college, which, it is hoped, will be ready to receive its first students in September 2001.
The idea of a joint Polish-Ukrainian university was raised in February by the Polish Ukrainian Forum, a group of 16 politicians and intellectuals whose main aim is to neutralise possible negative consequences for the Ukraine from Poland's accession to the European Union.
In recent years, Lublin has become the focus of efforts for reconciliation between the two nations. In 1990, the Catholic University of Lublin - the only private university to have survived in the communist bloc - concluded an agreement with the then Soviet Union to accept a small number of Ukrainian Catholic theological students.
The following summer, it hosted a conference, convened on the initiative of Pope John Paul II, at which scholars from Poland, Lithuania, Belarus and Ukraine addressed contentious issues of their joint history and drafted outlines for textbooks to be used in all four countries.
Curricula have yet to be decided, and the students will come not only from Poland and Ukraine but also from elsewhere in Europe.