September 2, 2016

Ukraine-Poland: Friends or Enemies...

At the recent press conference “Ukraine-Poland: Friends or Enemies...”, convened by the All-Ukrainian Society “Prosvita” named after Taras Shevchenko, the participants signed an appeal to the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine, which offers to urgently adopt a resolution with the assessment of the Polish Parliament's actions, which recently violated previous agreements on the attitude to the Polish-Ukrainian conflict of 1943-1945.


”Borysfen Intel” decided to publish this appeal, because apart from clearly defining the position of the well-known Ukrainian figures, it once again draws attention to one of the most important pages of the history of relations between the two countries — Ukraine and Poland.


An Appeal in Connection with the Parliament of the Republic of Poland's Violation of the Agreements on a Joint Assessment of the Polish-Ukrainian Conflict of 1943-1945

In the adopted by the Parliament of the Republic of Poland resolutions (Senate Resolution of 7 July, 2016 and the Sejm's Resolution of 22 July, 2016), the Polish MPs continued unilateral revision of the joint political assessment of the Polish-Ukrainian conflict during World War II, previously agreed on in a number of important Ukrainian-Polish documents, including such as:

  • The Statement by the Presidents of Ukraine and Poland “On Understanding and Unity” (21 May, 1997);
  • The Statement by the Parliaments of Ukraine and the Republic of Poland in Connection with the 60th Anniversary of the Volyn Tragedy (July 10, 2003);
  • The Joint Statement by the Presidents of Ukraine and the Republic of Poland “On Reconciliation — on the 60th Anniversary of the Tragic Events in Volyn” (July 11, 2003);
  • The Letter of Greek-Catholic Bishops of Ukraine and Roman-Catholic Bishops of Poland on Reconciliation on the Occasion of an Act of Mutual Forgiveness and Unity (June 2005);
  • The Joint Statement by the Presidents of Ukraine and Poland on the Occasion of the 60th Anniversary of the “Vistula” Operation (27 April, 2007).

The first attempt of such a revision at the official level happened on July 15, 2009, when the Sejm of Poland adopted the Resolution “On the Tragic Fate of Poles in the Eastern Kresy”. That rather brief document, told about the celebration of the “66th anniversary of the beginning by the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists and the Ukrainian Insurgent Army in the lands of II Rzeczpospolita of the so-called anti-Polish action”, which was wrongly portrayed as an unprovoked crime that took “the nature of ethnic cleansing and the signs of genocide”.

Similar expressions were used by the Polish Parliament in 2013, when first the Senate (June 20), and soon after the Sejm (July 12), adopted Resolutions devoted to the 70th anniversary of the Volyn events. Those decisions stated that the OUN/UPA's anti-Polish action had the largest scale in July 1943, in the Volyn region, and continued until 1945, and their victims were “about 100 thousand Poles”.

The preparation, initiation, adoption and implementation of the above-mentioned documents were accompanied by huge anti-Ukrainian hysteria and Ukrainophobic actions, particularly in the Ukrainian ethnic lands (Kholmshchyna, Pidlyashya, Nadsyannya and Lemkivshchyna) which at the end of the Second World War remained a part of Poland. The escalation of the anti-Ukrainian campaign creates in the mass consciousness of the Poles a negative image of the Ukrainian, although Poland's tragedy was the result of the long-term occupation of its territory by German Nazis.

The peak of the campaign was the Polish Sejm's Resolution adopted July 22, 2016 and entitled “In Memory of the Victims of Genocide — Citizens of the Second Rzeczpospolita — Committed by Ukrainian Nationalists in 1943-1945”. The Resolution reads about the murder of already “more than 100 thousand citizens of the II Rzeczpospolita” and points out that “the exact number is still not known”. As the participants of killings are named “also SS Division “Halychyna” and other Ukrainian formations, which collaborated with the Germans”.

In the final part of the Resolution, referring to the speech of Pope John Paul II in Lviv in 2001, it is pointed out that “only the whole truth about history is the best form of reconciliation and mutual forgiveness”.

But the content of this document suggests a conscious distortion by the Polish Parliament Members of the historical truth through selective, biased and manipulative approach to the facts, outright fabrications, politically irresponsible and legally incorrect accusations of the Ukrainian national liberation movement of the genocide of citizens of the II Rzeczpospolita.

Today, an accomplished fact is that in the Polish-Ukrainian confrontation during the Second World War had been killed not only Poles, but also Ukrainians, and no one knows the exact number not only of Poles, but also of Ukrainians — victims of the conflict. The mentioning of the SS Division “Halychyna” and other Ukrainian units which had collaborated with the Germans, in line with the OUN and UPA was needed for their artificial association with collaborating agencies to discredit the Ukrainian national liberation movement.

In the Polish Sejm's Resolution, the emergence of hatred on ethnic and religious grounds in the so-called “kresy” are explained by the actions of the German and Soviet occupation forces as well as the futility of the attempts of the representatives of the Polish state underground to negotiate with the Ukrainian organizations.

In reality, the conflict between Ukrainians and Poles has a long and deep reasons related to the chauvinistic attitude of the Polish intellectual elite to Ukrainians and their natural rights, in the days of the I and II Rzeczpospolita. In the first half of the XX century, there was just another outbreak of the Polish-Ukrainian animosity caused by the actions of the authorities of the II Rzeczpospolita, which with the help of weapons violated the Ukrainians' right to build a nation-state in their historical ethnic lands, and forcibly incorporated their western part, called later “kresy”, into the Polish state and started to implement the infamous policy of “pacification” and destruction of the national identity of the indigenous Ukrainian population.

The outbreak of the Ukrainian-Polish enmity during the Second World War was caused not by the Ukrainian organizations' refusal to negotiate with representatives of the Polish state underground, but by the position of the London-based Polish government in exile, hostile to Ukrainians and the Ukrainian national liberation movement. Using units of the Krajova Army and Peasant Battalions, as well as self-defense units of the “Kresy”, the Polish government sought to cleanse from Ukrainians the Ukrainian ethnic lands within the “kresy” in order to strengthen its positions during the forthcoming post-war determining of territorial borders of the Polish State.

It was this that led to the cruel Polish-Ukrainian conflict, during which Poles were killing Ukrainians, and Ukrainians were killing Poles, and not in Volyn alone. But Ukrainians were defending their natural right to be masters of their traditional ethnic territories, while soldiers of the Krajova Army and fighters of Peasant Battalions, as well as self-defense of the “Kresy”, fulfilling the directives of the emigrant government of the Polish state, began to carry out criminal acts aimed at the destruction of Ukrainians in the “Eastern Kresys”. It should be noted that in those actions also took an active part of the Polish auxiliary police units, which served for the Nazi Germany.

Contrary to the known facts, the Resolution presents exclusively Ukrainians as criminals, and exclusively Poles as victims, and groundlessly accuses the Ukrainian nationalists of the murder of not only Poles, but also of Jews, Armenians, Czechs and representatives of other national minorities, as well as of Ukrainians, who were trying to help the victims. It reproduces the created by the Soviet secret services and communist propaganda stereotypes, which are designed to discredit the Ukrainians fighting for their right to live on their land and to have their own national state. It turns out that a revision of the assessment of the events in the Volyn region is being carried out according to the Russian scenario, and not without the involvement of the Kremlin's agents in the Republic of Poland.

The Resolution of the Sejm of the Republic of Poland glorifies the Krajova Army, Peasant Battalions, self-defense of the “Kresy”'s actions committed against Ukrainians in Ukrainian villages, and depicts the destruction of Ukrainian civilians on the native Ukrainian lands as “Polish retaliatory actions”, in order to justify the perpetrators of these crimes contrary to the requirements of international law and human morality.

The Resolution points out the crimes against “civilians in the eastern kresy of the II Rzeczpospolita”, ignoring the fact that the “Kresy” have always been and remain the Ukrainian ethnic territories inhabited before the “Vistula” operation mostly by Ukrainians. In fact, criminal acts against civilians carried out by the Polish side against the autochthonous Ukrainian majority were not limited to 1943-1945 years and the territory of Volyn.

Being deaf to the grievances caused to the Ukrainians, Polish MPs deliberately turned a historic problem into a political Ukrainophobic tool that immediately began to be used by the State Duma of the Russian Federation. Thus, a Polish-Russian front directed against Ukraine is being opened. Will Poland benefit from this?

Neither the Senate nor the Sejm of the Republic of Poland has replied to the Ukrainian Parliament's offer to act in the spirit of earlier Polish-Ukrainian agreement and to work out a joint statement on the commemoration of the victims of the Polish-Ukrainian conflict during the Second World War. But the Sejm of Poland adopted a Resolution, written in the language of vengeance, hatred and revenge, instead of dialogue, reconciliation and harmony.

We strongly condemn and unconditionally reject the unilateral actions of the Senate and Sejm of Poland as unacceptable, because they cynically violate positive agreements reached during the constructive Ukrainian-Polish dialogue of recent decades. They are incompatible with the requirements of the historical truth, morality and international law, they cultivate hatred for Ukrainians and Ukraine and create a regulatory framework for actions aimed at undermining the Ukrainian-Polish partnership.

We appeal to the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine with a demand to respond to anti-Ukrainian resolutions of the Parliament of the Republic of Poland and to approve the document that recognizes the actions of the Polish side on the Ukrainian ethnic territories before, during and after the Second World War as international crimes.

In particular, we propose the Verkhovna Rada to declare September 23 the Day of Polish repressions against the autochthonous Ukrainian population of Halychyna. On this day in 1930 the Presidium of the Council of Ministers and the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the II Rzeczpospolita decided on large-scale anti-Ukrainian repressive measures, which the Polish authorities officially called “pacification”.

We also propose to declare December 25 the Day of Remembrance of the genocidal destruction by the Polish underground of the autochthonous Ukrainian population in the native Ukrainian lands. On this day in 1942 the Polish chauvinists began mass murder of the Ukrainian population, caroling on the dead bodies of the tortured.

Besides, we propose to declare April 28 Remembrance Day for the Ukrainians, who were victims of the forced deportation by the Polish state. On this day in 1947 the Polish state punitive agencies launched the “Vistula” operation and deported from the historic Ukrainian lands 150 thousand Ukrainians to the former German territories, which had become part of Poland and were inhabited by hostile to the deported Ukrainians “kresowiaks”. At this, the deported Ukrainians were not allowed to settle compactly, which doomed them to a loss of identity as a national group.

The cultivated by certain Polish political forces nostalgia for “kresy” and voicing the dreams of “kresowiaks” to return under the authority of Poland the native Ukrainian lands, cast doubt on the post-war territorial settlement in Europe and inevitably actualize the question of the legitimacy of the Republic of Poland's borders. The dangerous trends in the certain stratum of the Polish political elite and society's attitude to Ukraine and Ukrainians, observed in recent years, play up Russia's attempts to destroy the unity of European democracies and to violate the existing international legal order for the realization of its imperial revenge encroachments, including at the expense of Poland.

It should be remembered that in its time, the Polish intellectual elite's desire to be guided by opportunistic political considerations and to ensure their own interests at the expense of Ukraine, had repeatedly spawned geopolitical disasters, from which suffered both Ukraine and Poland itself. Speculations on tragic pages of Ukrainian-Polish relations — is the way to restoration of the enmity between our peoples.

We call on the President, Government and Parliament of Ukraine to unite their efforts to effectively protect the interests and national security of Ukraine, and demand from the Deputies of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine to adopt a document with a clear assessment of the Republic of Poland's Parliament's Resolution.

We welcome the signing in Kiev, August 24, 2016 by the President of Ukraine and the President of the Republic of Poland of the Joint Declaration, which states that the strategic partnership between the two countries is a historic choice having no alternative, and confirms that the Ukrainian-Polish dialogue should be based on the already agreed ethical formula: co-operation and mutual understanding of our peoples.

We urge the sensible forces of the Polish political elite and society to counteract the cultivation of the Ukrainophobic revanchist hysteria in the Republic of Poland, to work together for the restoration of constructive Ukrainian-Polish dialogue and to refrain from unilateral actions harmful to the development of friendly relations between Ukraine and Poland. Policy of concord will ensure a natural alliance between Ukraine and Poland in the struggle against their common enemy of centuries — Russia. Strengthening the strategic partnership of Ukraine and Poland in these difficult times will strengthen the security of our countries and of the whole Europe.



August 30, 2016


Signatures of the participants: