Polish Policy Toward Ukraine After the Weighty Geopolitical Changes of the Dignity Revolution

Polish Policy Toward Ukraine After the Weighty Geopolitical Changes of the Dignity Revolution

Przemysław Furgacz (College of Business and Entrepreneurship in Ostrowiec Świętokrzyski, Poland)
Copyright: © 2020 |Pages: 22
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-2906-5.ch006

Abstract

After the turbulent events in Ukraine of 2014 and 2015, the geopolitical and geoeconomic situation in the Central-Eastern Europe changed. Ukraine outrightly chose the pro-Western orientation. The Russian Federation, despite some minor success in the form of Crimea incorporation, lost a lot of its former influences in the Ukraine. Ukraine's rapid reorientation opened new possibilities and threats for Poland. Poland, as the biggest Western neighbour of Ukraine with enormous historical bonds with this country, is vividly interested in the developments taking placing there. The author presented in this chapter the most germane points of issue between Warsaw and Kyiv as well as their common interests. Furthermore, the author briefly presented how Moscow and Washington try to impact Polish-Ukrainian relations. Moreover, the prognosis of future evolution of mutual bilateral Polish-Ukrainian relations will be depicted in the chapter. The increasing economic bonds of two countries may portend closer relationships in the future.
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Historic Background Influencing On Polish-Ukrainian Relations

During the revolution of dignity Polish authorities as well as the opposition parties firmly supported Ukrainian people protesting against Victor Yanukovitch. The then Polish minister of foreign affairs Radosław Sikorski engaged in negotiations. as mediator. It might have seemed that when the decisively pro-Western Petro Poroshenko took office in 2014 the bilateral relations should improve. Nevertheless, this did not happen. In contrast the bilateral relations between Kyiv and Warsaw cooled over the period 2015-2018. Although it might have look odd for people not knowing much about the peculiarities and tortuosities of the history of this part of world, the chief cause of the aforementioned worsening in bilateral Polish-Ukrainian relations was the divergent assessment of some aspect of the past, especially the stance toward the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA – Українська повстанська армія, УПА, Ukrayins'ka Povstans'ka Armiya). The prevailing evaluation of this politico-military formation among Polish political elites, historians and the whole society is very pejorative, whereas the Ukrainian political elites and society are themselves strongly divided in the appraisal of this movement. Generally, non-Polish and non-Ukrainian historians’ attitude vis-à-vis UPA is very critical mainly due to its extreme nationalist ideology as well as the numerous ethnic cleansings and war crimes committed on primarily Polish and Jewish people in the years 1941-44.

With hindsight, it appears that the aggravation in mutual relations of Poland and Ukraine began in April 2015. The Verchovna Rada of Ukraine a few hours after the then Polish president Bronisław Komorowski gave a speech in Ukrainian parliament, decreed the special resolution which praised the UPA members as the heroes who fought for the free and independent Ukraine. This uncritical glorification of UPA together with a diplomatically awkward time of the resolution’s decreeing were treated in Poland as a deliberate bunch of fives or as an outright disregard for Polish sensitivity.

In October 2016, the closed preview of the movie “Wołyń” (Smarzowski, 2016) directed by Polish director Wojciech Smarzowski in Kyiv was blocked at last moment. The official explanation for this move was the purported menace for the viewers’ security (Biłonożko, 2016).

In November 2017 – almost exactly two years after Bronisław Komorowski’s speech in Ukrainian parliament – the local authorities in the Polish town Hruszowice i Podkarpackie voivedoship – province situated in south-eastern Poland close to Ukrainian border – took a decision to disassemble illegally erected monument memorializing the fallen UPA soldiers. This decision in turn was met with disapproval in Ukraine’s government. In reaction, the Ukrainian Institute of National Remembrance, also known as the Ukrainian Institute of National Memory (UINR – Український Інститут Національної Пам’яті) suspended all exhumations of Polish victims of UPA in territories of contemporary Western Ukraine. This maneuver was received in Poland as clearly unfriendly (Andrusieczko, 2019). Undoubtedly, it further undermined Polish-Ukrainian relations. Polish government came to conclusion that the Ukrainian partner ostentatiously sidesteps the difficult question of UPA in reciprocal relations. The process of reconciliation since that time obviously slowed down.

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