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Polish & Ukrainian intellectuals: confrontation between our nations leads to joint destruction

Polish & Ukrainian intellectuals: confrontation between our nations leads to joint destruction
Translated by: Peter Koropey

Editor’s NoteBringing the historical issues into the modern politics by the current Polish leadership has deteriorated relations between two friendly neighbor countries, Poland and Ukraine.

The confrontation culminated in the adopting the bill criminalizing the denial of crimes committed by “Ukrainian nationalists and members of Ukrainian formations collaborating with the German Third Reich.”  The bill’s authors state that Ukraine is engaging in “historical politics” by seeking sources of its identity in “criminal formations and a criminal ideology of integral Ukrainian nationalism.”

Despite the political confrontation, the countries retain close economic ties, and up to 1.5 million Ukrainians currently work in Poland.

Representatives of Ukrainian and Polish civic societies made a joint appeal to fellow citizens and politicians of both countries, calling to return to politics based on a truthful dialog instead of “the dictate of only one side.” The activists remind that the confrontation between Poles and Ukrainians, often ignited by Russia, leads to the joint destruction of both nations.

Here we publish the full text of the appeal.

We, the representatives of many civic communities in Poland and Ukraine, desire to make known our protest against the continuation and escalation of confrontational politics in relations between Poland and Ukraine!

These politics ruin the endeavors of several generations of Poles and Ukrainians who strived for dialogue, cooperation, and friendship between us. The tragic intertwined history of Ukrainians and Poles in the last century, the bad memories of the policies of the Second Polish Republic regarding Polish citizens of Ukrainian heritage, the conflict, bloody for both sides, between 1939 and 1947, the anti-Ukrainian propaganda of Communist Poland and the USSR – all this should have divided us forever. But after 1989 and 1991 the impossible became possible!

At that time we jointly recognized that the collapse of communism, the rise of independent Ukraine and Poland, the painful lessons of the history of the 20th Century, and the possibility for the expansion of the European Union put before us new challenges.
But the expression, “There is no free Poland without a free Ukraine, and there is no free Ukraine without a free Poland” has acquired new significance: it proves our responsibility to the future of our countries and of all Europe – especially in overcoming our tragic historical heritage. We have recognized that the innumerable Polish and Ukrainian graves on both sides of the border could become a symbol of our shared memory, and not a basis for new conflict. We believe that they attest to the high price the people of both nations paid for freedom and independence.

Signatories of the appeal. Source:
Signatories of the appeal. Source:

We have our own burdensome history, but despite this, we strengthened a new partnership, a new quality of our relations! Above all, both societies, with the support of the Catholic and Orthodox Churches and of politicians, began a dialogue on the basis of standards accepted in Western Europe after 1945. We searched for that which brings our nations together and unites them, and not that which divides us; we looked for a path out of the historical pitfalls and a road far from the politicization the works of historians and educators.

We appeal above all to our fellow citizens in Poland and in Ukraine, and to our politicians, since they themselves carry the final responsibility for relations between our countries:

In relations between Poland and Ukraine, we desire to return to the politics which depend on truthful dialog, and not on the dictates of only one side. We desire policies which appeal to both the present and the future! We will become conscious of those responsibilities which fall on our shoulders and of those opportunities which stand before us!

The experience of our nations, won in the previous centuries, teaches us that each confrontation between Poles and Ukrainians, often ignited by Russia, leads to our joint destruction!
Today’s Europe is threatened by the pressure of national egotism, and above all by Russian imperialism. In these conditions it would be better for us, Poles and Ukrainians, to fight these threats together! It falls to us to build the Europe of the 21st Century together!

Signatories from Ukraine:

  • Yurii Andrukhovych, Translator of Bruno Schultz
  • Prof. Yevhen Bystrytskyi, Professor at the Institute of Philosophy of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine.
  • Taras Vozniak, Political Scientist, editor of the independent cultural journal “Ї”
  • Mykola Horbal, Dissident, Civic Activist
  • Yevhen Hlibovsytskyi, Founder of and expert from the company pro.mova
  • Prof. Yaroslav Hrytsak, Historian, Professor of the Ukrainian Catholic University
  • The Blessed Borys Gudziak, Bishop of the Eparchy of Saint Volodymyr the Great in Paris for the Ukrainian Catholic Church in France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg and Switzerland, and the President of the Ukrainian Catholic University.
  • Orest Drul, Editor of the Internet-Journal Zbruc
  • Yevhen Zakharov, Human Rights Activist, Member of the Activist Group “1st of December”
  • Oleksandr Zinchenko, Historian, Author
  • Yosyp Zisels, Acting Vice-President of the Congress of National Communities of Ukraine, member of the Activist Group “1st of December”
  • Vakhtanh Kipiani, Journalist, Chief Editor of the project “Istorychna Pravda (Historical Truth)”
  • Heorhiy Kovalenko, Archpriest and Rector of the Open Orthodox University of the Holy Wisdom
  • Danylo Lubkivskyi, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine (2014), Civic Activist
  • Rostyslav Luzhetskyi, Artist, Publisher
  • Andriy Liubka, Author
  • Yuriy Makarov, member of the Board of the National Public Tele-Radio Company
  • Myroslav Marynovych, Vice-Rector of the Ukrainian Catholic University, member of the Activist Group “1st of December”
  • Vitaliy Nakhmanovych, Historian, Acting Secretary of the Civil Committee for Honoring the Memory of the Victims of Babyn Yar.
  • Vitaliy Portnykov, Journalist, Co-Director of the Ukrainian-Polish Partnership Forum
  • Taras Prokhasko, Author
  • Oleh Repetskyi, General Director of the Komora Company
  • Mykola Riabchuk, Author and Publicist, President of the Ukrainian PEN Association
  • Nazar Stryhun, Actor, Director of the “Telniuk Sisters” project
  • Halia Telniuk, Singer, Poet
  • Lesia Telniuk, Composer, Singer
  • Leonid Finberh, Chief Editor of the “Spirit and Letters” publication of the Kyiv-Mohyla National University
  • Prof. Natalia Yakovenko, Historian, Professor at the Kyiv-Mohyla National University
  • Oksana Zabuzhko, Author

Signatories from Poland:

  • Edwin Bendyk, Author
  • Iza Chruślińska, Author, Civic Activist
  • Tomasz Dostatni, Dominican Priest, Author
  • Prof. Barbara Engelking, Sociologist at the Polish Academy of Sciences
  • Prof. Andrzej Friszke, Historian at the Polish Academy of Sciences
  • Prof. Irena Grudzińska-Gross, Historian of Literature at Princeton University
  • Agnieszka Holland, Director
  • Konstanty Gebert, Author
  • Krystyna Janda, Actress
  • Danuta Kuroń, Head of the Jacek Kuroń Education Foundation
  • Jarosław Kurski, Deputy Chief Editor of the Gazety Wyborczej newspaper
  • Prof. Andrzej Leder, Philosopher of Culture at the Polish Academy of Sciences
  • Prof. Andrzej Mencwel, Scientist of Culture at the University of Warsaw
  • Adam Michnik, Chief Editor of the Gazety Wyborczej newspaper
  • Andrzej Seweryn, Director of the Polish Theater of Warsaw
  • Sławomir Sierakowski, Sociologist, Chief Editor of the Krytyki Politycznej journal
  • Krzysztof Stanowski, Social Activist
  • Andrzej Stasiuk, Author
  • Monika Sznajderman, Cultural Anthropologist, Publisher
  • Olga Tokarczuk, Author
  • Prof. Joanna Tokarska-Bakir, Cultural Anthropologist, Polish Academy of Sciences
  • Petro Tyma, Historian, Head of the Association of Ukrainians in Poland
  • Prof. Anna Wolff-Powęska, Historian of Ideas at the Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznan
  • Krystyna Zachwatowicz-Wajda, Artist, Cinematographer
  • Adam Zagajewski, Poet

Written and Published the 9th of March, 2018

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Translated by: Peter Koropey
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