Dear Brothers and Sisters,
A solemn remembrance day for the sons and daughters of our two nations that died, is upon us.
In the history of Polish-Ukrainian relations there are numerous pages of fraternal cooperation as well as bloody turmoil. The most painful, for Ukraine and Poland alike, is the history of the Volyn Tragedy and the Polish-Ukrainian conflict during World War II, that resulted in the killings of thousands of our innocent brothers and sisters.
There is no justificaion for the killing of innocent people.
We ask forgiveness for the crimes and wrongdoings – this is our first motivation.
We ask for forgiveness and equally forgive the crimes and injustices committed against us – this is the only spiritual formula that must motivate every Ukrainian and Polish heart that aspires to peace and understanding.
Killing, torture, ethnic and religious humiliation, social exploitations and deportations – both of our nations know these words well. We remember every single one of them.
The scars of history will always cause us pain, as long as our nations shall live. But we will only survive, in spite of the past, if we learn to respect one another as brothers and sisters, as equals.
The greatest evil in our relations was the inequality that came from Ukraine being stateless. The catastrophic destruction that was the history of Ukrainian state building brought about the ruin of Polish statehood. This axiom, however tragic, is a pattern of the relations between Ukraine and Poland.
The Ukrainian state has yet to fully form an integrated and dignified position regarding past challenges, their causes, and its own responsibility for the past, as well as the future.
Polish national opinion has to fully accept self-determination as part of a national Ukrainian tradition, as a just and dignified struggle for statehood and independence.
We need to accept one another finally, with our hearts and our minds. The most important monument to our nations will not be a local pantheon, but the extension of our hands in a national embrace.
Russia’s current war against Ukraine has brought our two nations even closer together. Moscow’s war against Ukraine, is just as much an attack on Poland and the rest of the free world.
We are reminded of this today with particular concern so as to warn politicians in both our countries to renounce the language of hatred and hostility that so easily supplants the Christian sense of forgiveness and understanding. The tragedies of the past need repentance. However, exploiting common pain to make political points will continue the cycle of mutual assured accusations. This will only insure the return of injustice – against the graves and memories, and against the future.
We call on our allies, the leaders of the Polish state and parliamentarians, to put a stop an ill-considered political declaration, the approval of which will not quench the pain of the past, but will only be exploited by our common enemy against both Poland and Ukraine. We have no doubt this will brand our societies with hostilities.
We must also remember that Kyiv and Warsaw – is the axis of strength for all of Europe today. We must come to realize that the example of our mutual understanding will become a model for all of Europe.
On the eve of commemorative events that will begin in July in both our countries, we encourage the return of joint parliamentary appeals that do not divide us, but unite us in repentance and forgiveness. Guided by the spirit of fraternity, we call for the creation of a shared Day of Remembrance for the victims of the past and an expression of faith that we can reject evil.
An eternal and dignified remembrance is dependent on the wisdom of understanding between us. This is something we need to achieve once and for all.
We have faith that our voices will be heard by Polish society.
Leonid Kravchuk, President of Ukraine (1991-1994)
Viktor Yushchenko, President of Ukraine (2005-2010)
His Holiness, the Patriarch of Kyiv and all Rus’-Ukraine Filaret, Ukrainian Orthodox Church, Kyiv Patriarchy
Sviatoslav Shevchuk, Major Archbishop of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church
Vyacheslav Briukhovetsky, Literary Historian, Honorary President, National Univeristy “Kyiv-Mohyla Academy”
Ivan Vasyunyk, Co-chair of the National Committee to Honor the Memory of Victims of the Holodomor-Genocide of 1932-33, Vice Prime Minister (2007-2010)
Ivan Dzuba, Academic, Literary Historian, community activist
Danylo Lubkivsky, Deputy Foreign Minister of Ukraine (2014)
Dmytro Pavlychko, poet, community activist, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary
Volodymyr Panchenko, writer, professor National University “Kyiv-Mohyla Academy”
Myroslav Popovych, Literary Historian, Academic, philosopher, Director of the Hryhoriy Skovorada Institute of Philosophy
Vadym Skurativskiy, Art Historian, Literary Historian, Academic of the Ukrainian National Academy of Art
Ihor Yukhnovsky, Academic, First Director of the Ukrainian Institute of National Memory
Translated by Marko Suprun