When did Poland and Ukraine become friends?


On November 15, a missile fell on the territory of Poland in the village of Przewodów near the border with Ukraine, killing two local residents. This event attracted the attention of world leaders and was actively covered by the media, such as «The Guardian«, «The New York Times«, «Reuters«, etc.

Flag of Poland, source: https://www.pexels.com/photo/flag-of-poland-5611/

In addition to the political consequences, the tragedy in Przewodów, according to The Guardian, had a profound impact on the historical memory of Polish citizens, primarily in eastern Poland. The main idea of the article with the loud title: «In eastern Poland, Putin’s war has turned former enemies into friends» is that the full-scale invasion of Russian troops in Ukraine on February 24, 2022, radically changed the relations between Poles and Ukrainians, and their perception of their own history.

But can we agree that it was Russia’s attack on Ukraine in 2022 that turned enemies into friends? Indeed, in the history of two neighbouring nations, especially in the 20th century, there are common tragic pages that require mutual understanding and rethinking. These include not only the Volyn tragedy (a bloody confrontation between Poles and Ukrainians, ethnic cleansing in which both combatants and civilians participated), mentioned in the article «The Guardian», but also the Polish-Ukrainian war of 1918-1919, as a result of which the Western Ukrainian People’s Republic lost its newly declared independence, and Eastern Galicia and Western Volhyan were captured by Poland.

Flag of Ukraine, source: https://www.pexels.com/photo/blue-and-yellow-ukrainian-flag-waving-above-crowd-of-people-11421405/

Attempts to understand the perception of the Volyn tragedy at the political level have been taking place for the past 20 years. They were started in 2003 by Presidents Leonid Kuchma (Ukraine) and Aleksander Kwaśniewski (Poland) and continued by Victor Yushchenko (Ukraine) and Lech Kaczyński (Poland), who opened a monument to dead Ukrainians and Poles in the village of Pawłokoma in 2006. In 2014, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko apologized in the Polish parliament and called for reconciliation between Ukrainians and Poles. Yes, there are still a lot of unresolved and unresolved issues regarding this terrible page of Ukrainian-Polish history. However, the main thing is that the friendly and fraternal Polish and Ukrainian peoples are moving in the direction of forgiving each other.

Undoubtedly, the Russian invasion of Ukraine, which has been ongoing since 2014, showed both Poles and Ukrainians that they have a common enemy, but good-neighborly friendly relations between them began much earlier — immediately after the declaration of Ukraine’s independence.

The Republic of Poland was the first country to officially recognize the state independence of Ukraine on December 2, 1991, and already on January 8, 1992, diplomatic relations was established between the two states. Soon, on May 18, 1992, the interstate Ukrainian-Polish Agreement on Good Neighborliness, Friendly Relations and Cooperation was signed between the countries.

This is confirmed by the results of a poll conducted in Poland by the Center for Public Opinion Research (Fundacja Centrum Badania Opinii Społecznej – CBOS). Thus, reconciliation and rapprochement of the Ukrainian and Polish peoples were seen as possible by 58% in 1997, and by 2009 by 84%. In 2008, already 67% of polled Poles were in favor of Ukraine joining NATO. The friendly attitude towards Ukrainians increased significantly after the Orange Revolution — from 19% in 2003 to 29% in 2004.

The existence of a common threat in the form of Russia, which attacked Ukraine in 2014, further consolidated the representatives of all political parties and forces of the Polish state and Polish society to fully support Ukraine. During bilateral meetings within the framework of the EU and NATO and other international organizations, the leadership of Poland constantly emphasizes the need to increase sanctions pressure on Russia and provide financial, humanitarian and military assistance to Ukraine.

The Prime Minister of the Republic of Poland, Mateusz Morawiecki, said that if his country does not support Ukraine in this war, the war itself will come to Poland.

Therefore, the large-scale invasion of the Russian Federation into Ukraine on February 24, 2022 did not turn enemies into friends, because Poland and Ukraine, despite misunderstandings on some issues and the statements of individual politicians, had good neighborly relations long before it.

Views: 52