The representative of Vinnytsia was chosen as a Vice-President of the European Federation of Saint James Way

Deputy Mayor of Vinnytsia Andriy Ocheretnyi has been elected Vice President of the European Federation of Saint James Way for the term 2025-2028. The mission of the Federation is to preserve, develop and popularize the network of historical pilgrimage routes and their cultural heritage.

This took place during the General Assembly of the Federation, on July 4-5 in the Spanish city of Santiago de Compostela. Representatives of eight European countries present at the Assembly voted unanimously for Andriy Ocheretnyi's candidacy.

The event brought together members of international associations, regional and local administrations related to Saint James Way. In addition to the approval of annual reports, the new Strategy of the Federation for 2025-2028 was discussed as well, as part of the improvement of work on the development of the most famous cultural route of the Council of Europe. It suggests an increase in the number of member countries, interaction with civil society through associations of friends of the Way, the study and preservation of heritage, the development of the phenomenon of Camino hospitality, and the implementation of joint international grant projects. Vinnytsia and its partners have already submitted two grant applications in these areas.

In order to implement the new Strategy, elections were held to the governing bodies of the European Federation of Saint James Way for a new cycle. One of the elected positions was the position of Vice President, introduced under the new statute. The current and newly elected President of the Federation, Ildefonso de la Campa Montenegro, nominated a representative of the Vinnytsia City Council as the coordinator of the easternmost official branch of the St. James Way in Europe. According to the President, these elections are crucial for the continuity and leadership of the Federation in its efforts to preserve and promote the Camino de Santiago throughout Europe. It is the participation of Ukraine that helps to expand the geography of the Way and attract new groups of heritage preservation activists.

"The government of Galicia, where the Saint James Way ends, supports Ukrainians who were forced to leave their native homes,  said the head of the Galicia Tourism Agency, Xosé Manuel Merelles. As a symbol of unity with Ukraine's struggle against aggression and the desire for a just peace, we sent a milestone to Vinnytsia that indicates the direction and distance to Santiago de Compostela".

"Members of the Federation, of which there are already more than 20, have expressed great support for our struggle for freedom, democratic values, and the preservation of the cultural identity of Ukrainians. The Government of Galicia has expressed its desire to accept the children of fallen soldiers for psychological rehabilitation in Spain, in particular through the walking the Camino. At the same time, discussions are ongoing on the methods of psychological rehabilitation of war-affected Ukrainian civilians and military personnel in the course of the cultural pilgrimage route", noted Andriy Ocheretnyi.

The Saint James Way was the first European cultural route certified by the Council of Europe in 1987. Its various paths pass through all of Europe and lead to the city of Santiago de Compostela in Spain. The Camino Podolico was created in 2021 based on the model of these routes, and was certified as part of the cultural route of the Council of Europe in 2024. The uniqueness of the Camino Podolico lies in the fact that this cultural, educational and pilgrimage route passes through the most picturesque historical places of eastern Podillya from Vinnytsia through Bar to Kamianets-Podilskyi.