The Ghost of Bandera in Warsaw: what happened to relations between Ukraine and Poland

Warsaw, the former “advocate of Ukraine in the EU” continues a policy of isolation. The Minister of foreign Affairs of Poland Witold Waszczykowski has caused a wave of indignation in Ukraine, his statement that Poland will block the European perspective of Kiev due to the different visions of historical issues.

“Our message is simple: Bandera in Europe will not come, “Waszczykowski said in an interview with wPolityce on Tuesday, July 4. The head of the Polish foreign Ministry said that Warsaw will require that all historical issues were “cleaned” before Ukraine will apply for EU membership.

Waszczykowski drew a parallel with the situation with Macedonia. This country can’t start the EU accession talks because of Greece, which blocks the issue of membership of Macedonia, demanding renaming of the state.

What in Warsaw mean by “cleaning” and that should make Kiev fix a misunderstanding with Warsaw, the Polish foreign Ministry to request DW did not elaborate.

Lawyer claims

This critical attack on the Kiev – is not the first for the Polish leadership.

See also:

Poroshenko requires Duda reaction to the desecration of the symbols of Ukrainian in Poland

In February the leader of the ruling party “law and justice” Jaroslaw Kaczynski also criticized Ukraine for another from Poland vision of history. “May not for years to see how Ukraine has built a cult of people who committed the genocide of poles”, – said Kachinsky in interview to the Polish media.

Perhaps the words of the Polish policy was concerned, in particular, renaming the streets of Ukrainian cities in honor of the head of the OUN Stepan Bandera and UPA commander Roman Shukhevych. The Polish authorities also again and again raise the issue of the Volyn tragedy of 1943, during which he killed tens of thousands of poles and Ukrainians.

Despite the numerous steps of reconciliation in the past, last year, the Polish Senate has again brought the issue to the agenda and recognized the Volyn events of the genocide of poles. Harsh rhetoric towards Ukraine and Ukrainians honor the leaders of the liberation movement of the 30-40-ies of the last century from the lips of the right-conservative government of Poland does not subside, despite conciliatory gestures from the Ukrainian side.

In particular, in July last year the President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko has laid a wreath at the monument to the victims of the Volyn tragedy, becoming on one knee in front of the monument as a sign of respect and apology. “The ruling party of Poland, is playing the historical card. “Law and justice” trying to consolidate his own electorate, and to free themselves from competitors on the right political flank. For this they go through the rhetoric of the extreme right,” – commented in an interview with DW statements of the Polish leadership Director of the Polish-Ukrainian Foundation PAUCI Krzysztof Filcek.

According to him, tensions with Ukraine fits into the overall picture of Polish foreign policy, when came to power the ultra-conservative “law and justice”. Namely: confrontation in relations with neighbours.

“Poland voluntarily destroys their position in the EU. Poland can no longer play the role of advocate of Ukraine in the European Union as effectively as it was before,” says Filak.

Criticism of Ukraine

Criticizes the politicization of the personality of Stepan Bandera also a historian Grzegorz Rossolinski-Liebe.

According to him, Bandera is very little know – how in Ukraine and in Poland. “Bandera and the OUN were instrumentalisierung Soviet propaganda, Ukrainian Diaspora and Polish historians. When you don’t know what to say, all these arguments have no meaning” – said the German historian of Polish descent. At the same time Rossolinski-Liebe am convinced that Ukrainians would have to abandon the myths and a more sober look at the history of their national liberation movement.

Associate Professor at the Free University of Berlin himself felt that such political pressure on historians who are trying to make a critical scientific evaluation of the role of Stepan Bandera. A few years ago his series of lectures in Ukrainian cities has been disrupted because of threats from supporters of “Freedom” and because of refusal to rent the premises. The author of the first in the Western scientific world, Bandera’s biography are very critical in their assessments. “In my opinion, still little is known about what was the Organization of Ukrainian nationalists. Like the Croatian “ustasha” or the Romanian “Iron guard” they were Nazi movement and sought to achieve similar goals: building a state with a fascist dictatorship,” – recalls Rossolinski-Liebe.

See also:

Poland wants the US to extradite Ukrainian-Ssovtsa, a suspect in mass killings during the war

He critically looks at what is in Ukraine created a political myth of Stepan Bandera, and calls to disregard the controversial role of the Ukrainian nationalists during the Second world war, in particular, of involvement in the Holocaust.

“Dialogue is possible”

Ukrainian historian Yaroslav Hrytsak no illusions about the ambiguous perception of the role of Stepan Bandera has not.

Nevertheless, he is convinced that the Ukrainians themselves will deal with understanding their own history, and policies only involve the society in the conflict. “I am not a supporter of Bandera. However, I think that Ukrainians have the right to such a hero as Bandera. The memory of Stepan Bandera in Ukraine today is a symbol of anti-Russian resistance and has no relation to Poland. The majority of Ukrainians do not associate with Bandera Volyn or any anti-Polish actions”, – said Hrytsak.

The historian is convinced that the Ukrainian and Polish researchers are able to find a common approach to the historical facts that would help both peoples to see the common and not disconnected.

Hrycak points to the experience of France and Germany, who after the war published a joint history textbook of the two countries, which were complicated page. “But we must not forget that Germany is to overcome its history, it took thirty years. And in the early postwar years no one took up historical issues, it was necessary”, – says the historian.

“Look at common, not what divides”

Krzysztof Filcek urges Ukrainians and poles not to pay attention to provocative statements by politicians on both sides.

“Be very careful about what you hear from politicians through the media. Focus on relationships on a human level with the representatives of other countries, look at common, not what divides,” urges and Director of the PAUCI.

He heads the Foundation for many years supported the reform process in Ukraine and, despite verbal attacks from Warsaw, Filtek sees no obstacles for further operation. His Fund and subsequently receives Polish government grants for projects in Ukraine, and relations on a human level, according to his observation, are invariably friendly. “All this noise from Polish officials aimed at domestic consumers” – sums up Krzysztof Filcek.