Warsaw ready to work with and support Ukraine
Polish Foreign Minister Witold Waszczykowski has said that the Poles are aware of the glorification of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists – Ukrainian Insurgent Army (OUN-UPA) in Ukraine, but at the same time they understand the importance of an independent Ukraine for the security of Europe and are still ready to support Kyiv.
"Ukraine is unconsciously trying to articulate, to find its historical identity, to lay the foundation for patriotism – although someone may call it nationalism. This is a normal trend. But our advice [to the Ukrainians] is not to build a historical identity on such figures as Shukhevych (Commander-in-Chief of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army Roman Shukhevych) for instance. This may affect the European aspirations of Ukraine, because members of the OUN-UPA participated not only in crimes against the Poles, but also in the Holocaust," Waszczykowski said in an interview with the Russian newspaper Kommersant.
The Polish foreign minister said that in December last year during the visit of Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko to Poland, the parties discussed this issue and the Polish side suggested acting according to Israel's example of rethinking of the Holocaust - rewarding and celebrating those Ukrainians and Poles "who really saved people during and after the war."
"In the common history of Poland and Ukraine there are individuals who have done a lot of good...," Waszczykowski said adding that he discussed this matter with Ukrainian Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin, but hadn't heard anything from him on the matter since then.
He said that he was still waiting for an opportunity to resume this discussion with the Ukrainian side and was waiting for a response from Ukraine.
At the same time, Waszczykowski said he understands the importance of independent Ukraine for European security.
"However, I should say that for the Poles, although they are aware of this problem, it is not a key one. We remember. We will not forget the Volyn massacre. We know that the UPA are being glorified. But that does not mean that we will forget how an independent and sovereign Ukraine is important for security in our part of Europe. We are still ready to cooperate with and support Ukraine," the minister said.
Waszczykowski noted that what is happening in Donbas is a conflict between Ukraine and Russia, provoked by Moscow. "There is no such thing as 'a crisis in Ukraine'. There is a Russian-Ukrainian conflict caused by Russia, and we will strive to contribute to its resolution," he said.
The Polish foreign minister stressed that he prefers to call this a conflict of low intensity, rather than a frozen conflict, because according to the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission, "people continue to die there every day, shooting is resumed several times a day."
He also pointed out that the armed conflict in the Donbas hinders the economic transformation of Ukraine.
"Therefore, we on our part are trying to help, for instance through sharing the experience of the reform of local authorities, which we managed to hold successfully many years ago. And the Ukrainians are currently trying to copy this model," the Polish minister said.