On Saturday, the presidents of Poland and Ukraine Petro Poroshenko and Andrzej Duda agreed to hold an emergency meeting of the Advisory Committee on the level of foreign advisers in Krakow next week. The urgency of this event caused by the deterioration of Polish-Ukrainian relations, which were followed by statements of the Minister of foreign Affairs of Poland Witold Waszczykowski that in the Ukraine there are people with anti-Polish views, which will be included in the blacklist of banned on Polish territory. Polish officials noted that the main candidate for getting into this list – Vladimir vyatrovich, head of the Ukrainian Institute of national memory, which in April stopped the legalization of the Polish monument in Ukraine and the issuance of permits for the exhumation of the victims of the poles. The decision of the Institute adopted after a series of destruction of Ukrainian monuments to soldiers of the UPA and the victims of Communist repression in the South-East of Poland. This problem, along with the memory of the Volyn tragedy, has become a stumbling block in relations between the two countries in the period, when Poland and Ukraine are targets for different level of aggression from the Kremlin.
The decision Poroshenko and Duda on the meeting of the Advisory Committee, expected in December, the visit of the Polish President in Ukraine, which he did not cancel against the advice Waszczykowski, and the refutation of the information on the entry ban to Viatrovych, gives hope for a reboot in relations between the two countries. Why Ukrainian-Polish relations came to a deadlock and how to improve them in the comments LIGA.net spoke Polish and Ukrainian journalists and academics covering the matter.
Piotr Andrusechko, the correspondent of Gazeta Wyborcza (Kiev)
Two side fault and there is no point in looking for who started the conflict. The tension began in April of 2015, when during the visit of President Komorowski to Ukraine was adopted the law on the status of the UPA. In Poland, Ukrainian statements that it was all by accident, did not inspire confidence. And then we saw the confrontation, which is difficult to correct.
Fortunately, I don’t see the deterioration of relations between Ukrainians and poles at the level of ordinary citizens – neither in Poland nor in Ukraine. I see the positive in that is not canceled the visit of Polish President to Ukraine. It is very important visit last chance. And it is important that next week will be a meeting of the Advisory Committee in Krakow. I hope that there will be a reboot or at least think about what to do, because our relations have become hostage to the politics of history. We hear the words and in Kiev, and in Warsaw, which remain strategic partners, and we have a lot in common, and the issue of security, and economic relations. But historical politics came in first place affects everything.
I’m no expert on historical politics, it may I don’t like and Polish politicians, too, but I don’t think it should affect the relations of our countries. Something to condemn, but to speak the language of ultimatums – it is impossible, especially with a strategic partner. I remain optimistic, it will be difficult to destroy the relationship that had been built over the years, but there is a danger. We need a dialogue, the rejection of the ultimatum, less loud statements in the media and perhaps more work behind closed doors on issues of history.
Eugene Magda, associate Professor of NTUU KPI, Executive Director of the Centre for social relations (Kiev)
In the current crisis the fault lies on both sides, but on the Polish – to a greater extent. The Polish representatives make loud statements that affect the relationship. They say banning the exhumation in Ukraine, forgetting about the destruction of Ukrainian monuments such as the monument in Krushovica, which was destroyed by the Polish nationalist groups and with the permission of local authorities.
The demonization of Viatrovych in Poland – ancient history. It began after the adoption in April 2015 of the law about the legal status of fighters for independence of the UPA, which coincided with the visit of Polish President Komorowski to Ukraine and poles took it as a slap in the face.
I understand that the intention of the Polish authorities to compensate for the loss of diplomacy at the European level. But as in Poland, reacted to the statement by Merkel that the Polish authorities should not be the policy of anti-Polish views? We need to stop, take a break, to do less public statements and not make such gestures as Waszczykowski. We need the adequacy and understanding, because despite all the problems, Poland is a strategic partner and the best partner we can find.
Michal Potocki, editor of the Dziennik Gazeta Prawna daily planner, author of books about contemporary Ukraine (Warsaw)
The conflict has led an uncompromising politics of memory on both sides. In recent days, unfortunately, Poland has gone on the escalation of the conflict. Played an internal factor – Waszczykowski is a candidate for retirement in November. He tries to show how uncompromising fighter, like these in the ruling party law and Justice.
Important detail – Waszczykowski does not come into contact with Ukrainian partners, and the President of Duda – Vice versa. Among them – sharp competition. Therefore, the visit of Andrzej Duda in Kharkov in December – perhaps the last chance mission. It is prepared by the head of the office of the President Mersky and Kostiantyn Yeliseyev, I really hope the success of this visit.
We haven’t heard from in recent days the position of Jaroslaw Kaczynski, the man No. 1 in Poland. He is in the position of the observer and can still enter the conflict. You need to consider that within the Polish ruling party has two factions – one who is not afraid to go into the political conflict with Ukraine, and the second considers that the need to cooperate, especially on security issues, despite the difference in vision of history. Kaczynski is somewhere between these two factions.
Not only Poland’s fault. I think our only serious disagreement is related to the events in Volyn. Vision of these events that offers Vladimir vyatrovich, for Polish historians is unacceptable. But no need to ban him in Poland. Even if he has the opposite view of history, he did not threaten Poland’s national security. Arguments Vyatrovich need to fight arguments, not meaningless steps.
I first agree with the Polish historian Jerzy Targalski, who said that “it will not Polish-Ukrainian reconciliation, while the poles do not recognize that on the one hand the UPA is responsible for the genocide in Volyn, but on the other hand fought for the independence of Ukraine, and the Ukrainians did not accept that the UPA has not only fought for independence but also responsible for the genocide in Volyn.” The word genocide is, of course, the subject of dispute.
Alas, the poles do not yet understand that the UPA fought for the independence of a lot longer than there have been events in Volyn, UPA is not only Volyn. And the Ukrainians do not understand that it so happened that Volyn is the only contact was the UPA and the poles, and so the army perceived. We must try to understand each other, the gap of the dialogue will be counterproductive.
Elena Babakova, a Ukrainian journalist (Warsaw)
The situation in the Ukrainian-Polish relations can be called a crisis. The Polish side has repeatedly voiced a desire to talk about the history of the 1940-ies, when in Volhynia was an ethnic cleansing, or as according to the Polish historians – the genocide of the Polish population by the UPA. In Ukraine, listened, nodded, repeated the formula from the message of the Polish bishops to the German bishops: forgive and ask for forgiveness, but these specifics were not. The request of the poles has not been satisfied.
With the coming to power of Law and justice, the topic came out in the top stories of the media. Among the voters there is a request to Poland ceased to be the object of others ‘ historical narratives, remembered their exploits and sacrifice. It’s such an expansive myth aimed at neighbors. Target was Germany – in summer, Polish politicians began to discuss the preparation of reparations for the Second world war, and Ukraine for Volyn. By and large, the Polish politicians are not saying anything new, the question is how they do it. The government IPR a very big problem with communication. These people are always interested in just how they sound to their electorate and the international partners or poles with other views they had not considered. Therefore, the application Waszczykowski and sound for Ukrainians aggressive. The problem in Poland is that speaking a language Waszczykowski, she will never get the desired action which would have affected the attitude to the UPA.
Ukraine, Poroshenko and the foreign Ministry, reacting in a balanced way: recall that in Ukraine, respect the poles that the overall story is difficult and you need to talk to historians. But the poles do not like that the first President lays wreaths at the monuments in the Volyn region, and then passes the renaming of streets in honor of Bandera and Shukhevych. It is clear that it does not Poroshenko, and local authorities, but at the poles there is a perception of this as a slap in the face for all the assistance they provided. There is a cheat in the media, the reaction in social networks. Example – one media gave information about ban Viatrovych on entry, it has not been confirmed, but the theme lives his life.
What to do about Ukraine? Don’t be provoked and do not respond to harsh statements. But we need specifics – it takes a lot to give and much to demand in return. We are talking about the fact that the UPA fought for independence, but there are units that participated in the purges, you need to call these units. If we are talking about Bandera – his responsibility is indirect, he is a political leader. But there are people with a direct involvement in the events in Volhynia – Klyachkivskyy and Shukhevych, to rename streets in their honour needs to be a moratorium, if you want to resolve this conflict. In various commissions of historians should be not only representatives of the Institute of national memory, i.e. Vyatrovich, but also those who belong to it are critical to the poles saw that he has no monopoly.
And Poland need to explain that talk Waszczykowski unacceptable, may not be so to foreign Minister visited the Ukrainian city and showed disrespect. It is unacceptable to spread false information about the anti-Polish sentiments of the Ukrainian politicians – it is not. The poles need to explain that Ukraine can not abandon the UPA and Ukrainians need to explain that the Polish government could not erect monuments to the rebels of the UPA with their symbols – you can engage in dialogue about the graves with Christian symbols.
To resolve the conflict can not do without high demands to yourself and to partners. Poland – not the state, which does not depend for us is a large, economically successful state, and we need to retain the partnership.
Mykola Kapitonenko, associate Professor Institute of international relations of KNU. Shevchenko
The crisis in relations cited several factors: the growing influence of nationalists, the crisis of democracy, the appeal to history. In addition, the growth in the number of Ukrainians in Poland has created for Polish politicians the opportunity to speculate, we do not foresee.
In foreign policy, we had the unpleasant, which is not surprising – our politicians are cynical in internal Affairs, stunningly naive in foreign policy. We have not calculated the possible consequences of recent decisions, including the law on education. We may not know exactly block whether Poland or Hungary we progress in relations with the EU and NATO. Although decisions are made by consensus, the position of such heavyweights as France and Germany, impact on the final decisions. But at the same time for Polish and Hungarian politicians created the perfect conditions for work on the anti-Ukrainian direction.
This was to be expected – if you start to speculate on national themes, expect the same from politicians from another state. They will also be easy and simple to speculate on xenophobia, the rights of the minority language. This is part of our responsibility. The consequences had to be prepared in advance. Now it turns out Poland and Hungary have leverage on us, and we are in a weak position – no levers. And then you need to think that for us the priority is to further rapprochement with the EU, or a greater level of national mobilization, the trend to strengthen the national discourse.
To get out of the situation, theoretically you need to look at the experience of countries of Western Europe. They tried to solve the issue, try to create a supranational identity in the EU positive agenda, when there is a great interdependence, trade, migration interaction. In the case of Ukraine and Poland, I’d love to write a story outside of the agenda, but there are obstacles. Speaking about strategic partnership, but the trade volume is not as big and cooperation in security issues is not wide. Therefore it is necessary to aspire to this level of interdependence in the spheres of security and economy, when each of the parties will simply not profitable to fight.
See also: Recipe Komorowski to the Polish-Ukrainian relations: less emotion, more interests