On Wednesday, the President of Poland Andrzej Duda called for a visit to Ukraine, laid in Kharkiv flowers at the monument to thousands of Polish soldiers were shot by the NKVD in 1940 and had a meeting with Petro Poroshenko, discussed key issues of Ukrainian-Polish relations. In Ukraine, the visit of the Polish President was waiting with the hope that he will be able to at least partially resolve the contradictions that have arisen between the two countries in recent years. We are talking about the failure of cooperation between the institutions of the national memory of both countries, which are unable to reach a common understanding on the assessment of the OUN-UPA, about the scandals because of the destruction of Ukrainian monuments in Poland and adopted in April of a moratorium of the Ukrainian Institute of national remembrance in the exhumation of the remains of those killed during the conflicts of the twentieth century on the territory of Ukraine of poles and sharp statements by Polish foreign Minister Witold Waszczykowski to the Ukraine.
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It is the head of the Polish foreign Ministry in early November said it will recommend to the President the Dude not to go to Kharkov and announced the creation of a blacklist of banned in Poland Ukrainian officials who in his view are anti-Polish views. It was, above all, the head of the Ukrainian Institute of national remembrance Vladimir Viatrovych and his associates. One of them, Secretary-General of the Ukrainian State interdepartmental Commission on Affairs of perpetuating of memory of participants of the ATO, war victims and political repressions Svyatoslav Sheremet, based on this blacklist were denied entry to Poland.
A few days before the visit Duda Waszczykowski has declared that problems in relations between Ukraine and Poland has begun because of the ban entry to Ukrainian territory, the mayor of Przemysl in January 2017 and the moratorium on the exhumation of the remains of the poles, and the head of the political Cabinet of the Polish Minister Jan Parys added fuel to the fire with his statement that “a strong and independent Ukraine is important for Poland, but it is not true that the existence of Ukraine is a necessary condition for the existence of free Poland”.
In the office of the President of Poland announced that the visit would be “difficult” and identified the main stumbling block in relations between the two countries. “If he (the prohibition to exhume the victims on the territory of Ukraine of poles – ed.) will not immediately abolished in the near future, it will severely undermine the mutual trust between our countries”, – said the head of the office of the President of Poland Krzysztof Mersky.
Poroshenko and Duda lay wreaths at the monument to the executed Polish officers in Kharkiv (photo – EPA)
In Kharkiv Petro Poroshenko personally met Andrzej Duda at the airport. The main result of the visit was the promise to lift the moratorium on the exhumation of the Polish victims of military conflicts on the territory of Ukraine. “We have agreed with Poroshenko that we will refer to the Deputy Prime Ministers and Ministers of culture, in order to lift the ban on the exhumation,” said Duda in a press conference. Issues of exhumation will be engaged in the bilateral Commission on historical issues, headed by Vice-Prime Ministers Pavlo Rozenko and Platrom Glinski status is thus elevated.
In relation to destroyed in Poland Ukrainian monuments President Duda stated that it regrets “about the cases of destruction of monuments, which came to the resentment of sensations, feelings and memories of the people whose loved ones died” and also lamented the attempts of falsification of history in Ukraine. In the office of the late President of Poland stressed that the Polish territory, “the monuments of the victims can only be created in the historically verified.” This will require several years of work on the exhumation of the victims and identify them.
In matters of security and energy the players have demonstrated a complete understanding with Poroshenko. He said that Ukraine could count on Poland, which will always maintain “the independence and territorial integrity of the state”, supported by a common struggle against the construction of the gas pipeline Nord stream-2, the establishment of the Interconnector, which will deliver gas to Ukraine from Poland. The Polish President also supported the initiative of Ukraine on the introduction of peacekeepers in the Donbass, and stressed the importance “that it was a real peacekeeping mission, which will operate in this area”. According to him, Poland as a non-permanent member of the UN security Council in 2018-2019 will support Ukraine.
Despite the positive atmosphere of the visit, to talk about resolving conflicts between the two States before.
First, Duda confirmed that the discussion with Ukraine on the issues of history will continue and the discontent due to the glorification of some of the leaders of OUN will not go away. “We would like as President (Poroshenko – ed.) just said that the story is not determined by what happens today and what will happen in the future. But the facts and life is such that very often what happened many years ago, also affect our current reality with very frequent human sensitivity through the broken heart, the pain that remains. And we, as politicians, should understand this and respect this sensitivity,” said Duda after talks with Poroshenko.
Second, the unresolved question of the resignation of the Minister of foreign Affairs of Poland Witold Waszczykowski, who despite the Polish media about his impending replacement, became part of the new Polish government Moravcova. It was the foreign Minister of Poland, most are following the advice of Andrzej Duda “keep moderation in statements of” Ukrainian-Polish relations. In addition, Ukraine has already formed public opinion that Polish official stirs up conflict with Ukraine to save his job, not because of the desire of Kiev to clarify the causes of the Polish discontent. If Waszczykowski will remain in his position, he probably will provoke a crisis in bilateral relations. The fate Waszczykowski to solve is clearly not Duda, but the actual head of Poland – the leader of the ruling party law and justice Jaroslaw Kaczynski.
Duda was again appointed Waszczykowski, foreign Minister of Poland on 11 December (photo – EPA)
And finally, the question of the restoration of Ukrainian monuments in Poland is postponed for years, which will be spent on the identification of buried under them.
In comments LIGA.net Ukrainian journalist Elena Babakova and Polish historian, Lukasz Adamski that regularly cover controversial issues of Polish-Ukrainian relations for the media in both countries, explained the importance of the visit of Andrzej Duda and the possibility of changes in Polish policy towards Ukraine after the formation of the new government Mateusz Moravcova 11 Dec.
Elena Babakova, a Ukrainian journalist (Warsaw)
Before the visit of the President of Duda in Ukraine in mass media there was information that the new Polish government will be a lot of permutations. This did not happen, which suggests that the ruling Polish party either want to keep the public in suspense and reshuffle in January, or think that all is well and change is needed. Foreign Minister Witold Waszczykowski looked the happiest Minister in the new government. This does not mean that he will stay in the chair, the option of replacing the head of the office of the President of Poland Krzysztof Dersim remains on the agenda. The latter is not inclined to sharp statements, but looks both at the historical issues are similar. And in General Polish society is already formed with a set of requirements in relation to the historical policy of Ukraine, and hardly someone from the politicians who make concessions.
In Ukraine you also need to consider that the new Polish Prime Minister Morawiecki was elected in order to provide the best reputation of Poland in the EU, I will focus on the economy and foreign policy he is not interested. His statement about the Ukrainian refugees in Poland and genocide in Volhynia was just intended to show the loyalty of party politics. There is a slim chance that the government Moravcova more focus on economic interests in relations with Ukraine, but fundamentally nothing will change foreign policy of Poland is defined in the office of the party law and justice.
The visit Duda in Ukraine has brought more benefits to Warsaw. Destroyed in Poland of Ukrainian monuments of the Polish President has promised to restore, but under two conditions – it must be established who were buried in these places and in what year. On clarification of all details will take 5-10 years. Black lists, the parties agreed to reduce. However, if you Polish the black list of Ukrainian historians, who got there for a different view of history, in the Ukrainian – Polish citizens, who have violated the Ukrainian legislation, go to Crimea through Russia or the poles associated with Pro-Russian separatists. That is Ukraine for reducing the blacklist will be forced to close their eyes to violations of its own law.
Thus, a fundamental breakthrough in Ukrainian-Polish relations meeting Duda and Poroshenko did not bring. Ukraine once burned with Hungary, decided to do a two step back in the relations with Poland, to Warsaw has not become a second Budapest. The problem is that in Ukraine a poor guide to what is happening in Warsaw, remains. And Duda promises to support Ukraine as a non-permanent member of the UN security Council, the Ukrainian stance on the peacekeepers in the Donbass, to supply gas – no surprise, it’s in the interests of Poland. At the same time on the background of stress the last two months, this meeting will provide an opportunity to breathe a sigh of relief.
Lukasz Adamski, Polish historian (Warsaw)
Poland as a country expects no change in the main directions of Ukrainian politics of memory, although I’m sure many would want, but he wants one thing: failure from spreading to the state level estimates of the history of Poland and Polish-Ukrainian relations, once propagandaand OUN, and now its ideological heirs.
Warsaw wants to restore permission for the exhumation of the Polish victims of historical cataclysms – the First and the Second world war. Now Ukraine is the only country in the world that forbade such work. Poles as a nation also want the recognition that tens of thousands of their countrymen in Volhynia and Eastern Galicia in 1943-44 was not killed by “green men”, and units of the UPA and it was not the “Polish-Ukrainian war,” says Volodymyr viatrovych, and the brutal ethnic cleansing carried out with the consent, and probably by order of Roman Shukhevych. In the end, in the interests of Ukraine itself is not to justify such methods of struggle and collaboration with the Nazis, because it generates only internal schism, and a memory conflict with Poland, Israel and modern Germany.
Poland also has the right to expect that a country that has constantly reiterated the necessity of a strategic Alliance with Poland, will not put the partner in an uncomfortable position hostile acts against the Polish researchers and will not argue against the sovereignty of interwar Poland on the territory of Galicia and Volyn. Would like to see some Ukrainian officials and journalists understand that there is responsibility for the words, and ceased to promote ignorance about Poland and its history, not to frighten more Ukrainians imaginary Polish-Russian Union.
Will Poland’s policy towards Ukraine under the new government? Not at all. After all, Poland and now supports a variety of image of Ukraine, but without correction of the Ukrainian politics of memory and recovery permits for the exhumation should not expect that the Polish government has ceased to pressure a partner for this reason. The Ukrainian government does not understand or does not want to understand that Amateur Ukrainian politics of memory narrows the field of maneuvers for each of the Polish government. It is also hoped that a positive climate for the visit will help the Polish side to keep emotions and to abandon the steps and statements, which do not solve the problem, and only creates unnecessary tension about the perception of Poland in Ukraine. The biggest problem in our relationship is lack of trust and understanding in communication, and in the future both sides need to avoid actions that this mistrust and misunderstanding deepen, focus on the steps that remove barriers to the desired rapprochement between the two Nations, including the approach of historical perspective of Ukrainians and poles.
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