Interview with the Founder of People Diplomacy Norway, Hendrik Weber on his visit to Donetsk: We, the people, want to hear their story (The Herland Report)

Source: The Herland Report
Date: 13.03.2018

The founder and president of The People Diplomacy Norway, Hendrik Weber states that if the politicians do not speak to each other, as war is looming everywhere, normal people can do this and start the dialog in order preserve international peace. In war, there is pain on all sides.


He says that it is important to show people living in these war torn battlefield countries that they are not alone. There are many regular citizens in Europe who do not support the current Western politics and want to do something about it. They want peace in Europe, not war and destruction.


The hope is to achieve more peace between nations, as we realize that those who live in war zones are just like us: Wishing for peaceful lives in their own countries, for their families and communities. They are the human factor, the millions caught in the battlefields, as the geopolitical ambitions of world elites define country after country as a war zone. It is also important to show these governments that someone is looking for dialogue with them. In order to break the information block we have in the Western media, it is important to go there.


The Herland Report: - You are the founder and president of the NGO People Diplomacy Norway, where the aim is to open the minds for peace between different groups instead of continuing the escalation towards more military conflicts. We understand these NGOs are now in several European countries, Belgium, Germany, Switzerland and so on. Tell us about why you decided to start People Diplomacy, Norway.

Hendrik Weber: - In 2013/2014 when the protests on Maidan in Kiev startet, I could read every day in the newspapers that the Russian President Putin is to blame for all happening there. And each day it got worse, and I had the feeling that our government and the newspapers had found the guilty person for everything that happened in the world.

Before that time I´ve never had something to do with Russia. I was always interested it in politics but had no contacts there, I even didn't know any Russian persons. But when all this happened I had the feeling that this impression that only one party is to blame, cannot be true. So, I started to read more books about global politics, Russia, and I tried to find out what´s really going on in the Ukraine.

In 2016 I had the opportunity to be a part of a German delegation to Crimea.

That was very interesting for me, because I got a closer view what the people on that side were thinking about regarding the situation in the Ukraine, and what they thought about the reunion with Russia. When we came back, Mette and I thought about what we could do now, to spread this information we got there. That´s why we startet People Diplomacy Norway. We started simply with a Facebook-profile «Weber Rosenlund».


The Herland Report: - We hear very little about Donetsk in the Western media, except for the stories that this region is filled with "Russian terrorists" and "oppositional groups" to Kiev. Tell us about what you saw there, how did the people react when they met you?

Hendrik Weber: - That is right. It is only described as a conflict between the government in Kiev and the separatists and terrorists. That's a completely wrong picture. After all that we have seen, and after the experiences of the people we talked to, it is a real war.

Not only in 2014 and 2015 but also today villages and towns are bombed every night by the Ukrainian army. These are terrible things that they told to us by the relief organizations, but also by teachers or staff of the children's home. We talked to people living at the Frontline and saw families spending their nights in the cellar with their children in fear of grenades.

But we also saw that Donetsk is a normal city in Europe, with normal city life. We were at a folk festival in the center of Donetsk, where families went for a walk and children played in the playgrounds. A normal city, if the frontline where not only 4 km away. It may feel like war is always far away somewhere, but this war is right here in Europe.

The people we met were very happy that someone from the West finally came to looks at the situation. Everyone was very friendly to us.

The girls from school No. 19 in Donetsk wanted to do selfies with me, just like normal teenagers at any other school anywhere in Europe. When I asked about there wishes for the future, the answer was that they wanted peace and they would like to travel to Europe at some point to use their learned English and German.