Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Holodomor in Ukrainian foreign policy

This week the President of Ukraine Viktor Yushchenko has three working visits abroad – on Monday he was in Lithuania, yesterday, on Tuesday, – in Israel, and today he departed for the United Kingdom with a two day visit. Agenda of every visit is obviously different, except one part. In every country Mr. Yuschenko has at least one little event (exhibition, lecture, conference or else) dedicated to Holodomor (death by hunger) 1932-1933.

On 12 May in Latvia Victor Yushchenko - together with his wife Kateryna Yushchenko and President Valdas Adamkus of Lithuania - took part in an opening of exhibition dedicated to Holodomor in Vilnius Genocide Victims' Museum. On 13 May in Israel he asked the President of the state Shimon Peres to support the Ukrainian initiative to appeal to the United Nations with a document concerning the Holodomor issue. On 15 May in London Ukrainian President will be present at the opening of the exhibition commemorating the victims of the 1932-1933 hunger.

Until a recent time, my personal opinion on this issue was dual. From one side, Holodomor was a real tragedy for Ukraine, and it surely have to be called as genocide against Ukrainian nation. But, from the other side, there is really too much of Holodomor in Ukrainian news and politics. The amount of official information, declarations, statements and appeals concerning the hunger which had place in Ukraine at the beginning of 1930th has reached – as for my point of view – a critical point, after which the total misconception has place.

Mr. Mario Santos David, Member of Parliament of Portugal, has helped me to put an end to the dualism in understanding of this situation. In his speech on the conference “Parliamentary cooperation between Ukraine and the EU” (to which my previous post was dedicated) he – very clearly – defined the main problem of Holodomor issue in Ukraine.

Holodomor is a tragedy, but it is a history,” Mr. Mario Santos David said. “It can not be a priority of Ukrainian foreign policy”. The Member of Parliament of Portugal emphasized that it is necessary to show respect for victims of Holodomor, to remember about this tragedy – but “to put it as a key issue of foreign policy is definitely wrong”.
"We shouldn't look that much into the past", the MP thinks, "we should better look into the future".

Reaction of some Ukrainian MP’s (I prefer not to tell names) to this speech was not very favorable. I think because of misunderstanding or troubles with translation as the idea is very easy to understand. Ukraine – of course – should not forget about such a big tragedy as Holodomor was. And furthermore, Ukrainians have (pleno jure) a right to inform international community, the entire world about one of the largest national catastrophes in the modern history of the Ukrainian nation. But the promotion of Holodomor outside Ukraine should not be turned into a kind of fetish, into an artificial, exaggerated national interest. Ukrainian diplomats, politicians, their speechwriters and other professionals have a lot of other things to do on the way of the country towards the integration into the European democratic family.

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