Espreso. Global
OPINION

Ukraine - Poland. We should change our mindset about history

4 March, 2024 Monday
13:35

Is historical background one of the reasons for the current deterioration of relations between Ukraine and Poland? Yes

But I definitely don't mean the primitive explanation that history shows that the Poles have always disliked us.

Because in fact, the historical relations between Ukrainians and Poles mirror those between any neighboring nations. They encompass a spectrum of enmity, animosity, wars, cooperation, and shared struggles.

It falls upon us, the present generation, to determine how to utilize this historical experience, discerning what is worth replicating and treasuring, and what to remember to ensure a "never again" scenario. Thus, current relations are not solely influenced by history; history stands as immutable, it is something that has already occurred and cannot be changed.

What is important is our attitude to history.

The manner in which for the last fifteen years Polish politicians have predominantly portrayed the historical relationship between our peoples, focusing largely on the prism of conflict, indeed fosters an atmosphere conducive to misunderstandings. This approach reinforces the thesis that Ukrainians are seen as neighbors who cannot be trusted.

The issue not only lies in emphasizing the conflict in history but also in the one-sided dimension through which it is viewed – attributing blame solely to Ukrainians while presenting Poles as victims.

This goes beyond distorting the historical truth regarding the longstanding confrontation between the two nations. It also solidifies a relational model where one side, claiming victimhood, absolves itself entirely of responsibility for its own mistakes. Meanwhile, the opponent's perspective is dismissed outright: everything they assert is a falsehood and an intentional cover-up of crimes.

In political discussions about the past, another destructive element has persisted, extending far beyond history into current relations: the belief that Poland can, and even must, impose its perspective on Ukrainians for cooperation to be possible.

But just the opposite is true: with an "my way or the highway" approach, it is impossible to build equal relations, which are the key to fruitful cooperation.

Can a proper understanding of our difficult past help to resolve the current difficulties in our relations?

I am sure it can.

Because the main conclusion from our common past remains extremely relevant: in the Polish-Ukrainian confrontation, the third party always wins, and this third party has been and can be Russia.

Source

About the author. Volodymyr Viatrovych, historian, Member of the Ukrainian Parliament.

The editors do not always share the opinions expressed by the blog authors.

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