Rally in Odesa, May 2014
The Russian threat hanging over Ukraine has fostered a stronger sense of patriotism in our country. Issues related to occupied Crimea and Donbas have not gone away, so our society is looking to consolidate and resolve certain issues. One such tool to build up and unify society is patriotism. I’m very happy that the sense of patriotism has increased over the past two years, and not just with regard to language and national identity, but also to civil responsibility.
Ukraine has changed the concept and principles of state-building. There are states built exclusively on an ethnic basis, such as Poland, which historical events (i.e. Stalin and Hitler) transformed into a monolithic, Polish-language, Catholic and ethnic state.
Ukraine is not at all like that; our country can be built on the principle of citizenship… something similar to France or other countries that are polylingual and polydenominational. This will be a great achievement for our civil society!
However, we mustn’t get too enthusiastic about this concept of citizenship and ignore everything Ukrainian. While the linguistic, ethnic and religious rights of other communities should be recognized, the Ukrainian state must remain Ukrainian.
Yes, our society is bilingual, unlike Poland. This is not a tragedy, but a problem that we are in the process of resolving. In fact, we’ve been searching how to resolve it for 25 years. So, if the Ukrainian political structure hasn’t collapsed in 25 years despite this bilingualism, it means that we’ve managed to find some solutions. They have not always been clearly articulated, they have not been recorded anywhere, but they exist.
Putin has relied heavily on nationalist imperial tendencies, but what did he get in return in Ukraine? A Russian-speaking Ukrainian patriotism, among many other things! This is a huge achievement for Ukraine, which has strengthened and consolidated the Ukrainian political community. For us, it is a victory, but it’s a shock for Putin.