15:15 07.02.2018

Dialogue with Polish historians now possible only in Ukraine - statement

3 min read
Dialogue with Polish historians now possible only in Ukraine - statement

The Ukrainian Institute of National Remembrance (UINR) proposes, for security reasons of scientists, to continue the historical dialogue between Ukraine and Poland on Ukrainian territory, where there are no restrictions on assessments of the past, due to the adoption in Poland of the law on the Institute of National Remembrance, which foresees, in particular, punishment for "crimes of Ukrainian nationalists," the UINR's press service reported on Wednesday.

According to the statement, the UINR, which provided for the functioning of the Ukrainian-Polish forum of historians from the Ukrainian side, does not see any opportunities for continuing the work in the previous format, alternately in Poland and Ukraine. Therefore, the institute urged Polish colleagues to come to Ukraine.

"We cannot guarantee the preservation of freedom of speech for Ukrainian researchers on Polish territory or even the safety of their stay there. Therefore, we appeal to our Polish colleagues with the proposal to continue historical discussions on Ukrainian territory... We are sure that discussions about the past should remain the prerogative of historians, rather than politicians. It is a balanced professional conversation, rather than loud political statements, that is one of the bases for mutual understanding between peoples," the statement reads.

As reported, early on February 1, the Senate of Poland adopted without any amendments the law on the Institute of National Remembrance, which foresees, in particular, punishment for "crimes of Ukrainian nationalists." The bill was supported by 57 senators, mainly from the ruling Law and Justice (PiS) Party, 23 voted against the document, and two abstained.

Amendments to the law envisage fines or imprisonment for up to three years for "sharing responsibility before the Polish people or the state, including for crimes committed by the Third Reich." In addition, the document envisages punishment for denial of the "Volyn massacre" and the use of the expression "Polish death camps" in relation to the camps that were located in Poland during the Second World War.

On February 6, President of Poland Andrzej Duda signed amendments to the law on the Institute of National Remembrance – Commission for the Prosecution of Crimes against the Polish Nation. Thus, the changes previously approved by the parliament came into force. Earlier, Duda said that he planned to appeal to the Constitutional Court of Poland with the request to assess the innovations.

President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko said that he was concerned about the decision of the Senate of Poland.

On February 6, the Verkhovna Rada adopted a statement expressing disappointment and concern over the adoption of amendments to the law on the Institute of National Remembrance - Commission for the Prosecution of Crimes against the Polish Nation and other legislative acts, and also called on Duda to intervene in the situation.

"We are urging President of the Republic of Poland [Andrzej Duda] to exercise his constitutional powers and, together with the Sejm and Senate of the Republic of Poland, to return balance, rationality and well-wishing to Ukrainian-Polish relations," the statement says.

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