Experts point out that history should not affect Ukrainian-Polish relations. It is reported by with reference to Polish Radio.

A controversy on historic policy regarding search and exhumation and commemorative memory is ongoing in Ukraine. The updated Polish Law on INP, which introduces, in particular, the punishment for denial of crimes of Ukrainian nationalists, added oil to fire.

One of the main reasons for the current Polish-Ukrainian crisis in historical politics is the disagreements between Warsaw and Kiev, connected with Polish places of memory on the territory of Ukraine and Ukrainian on the territory of Poland. The Polish side insists on the restoration of searches and exhumations of the remains of Polish victims in Ukraine, which was suspended the Ukrainian Institute of National Remembrance. In Kyiv, this decision was explained by the demolition of the UPA monument in Hrushevychi and the desecration and destruction of other Ukrainian memorial sites over the Vistula in recent years. Polish and Ukrainian Vice Premieres met in Warsaw last week to discuss, inter alia, the topic of the restoration of Polish search and exhumation works. However, President Andrzej Duda expressed disappointment with the course of these talks, because, he said, the Ukrainian side did not raise this issue at all.

According to Katarzyna Pelczynska-Nalenc, the Director of the Open European Fund named after Stefan Batory, exhumation is only a small part of a much larger whole.

This whole is a spiral, which has recently moved down at a great speed. The level of trust sharply decreases and the updated law on INP has become a very negative stimulus that is poorly perceived in Ukraine. From the Ukrainian and Polish sides there was a clear desire to solve the issues of exhumation and give a positive incentive. But the good will of the Ukrainian side disappeared after the publication of this law”, – says the expert.

Instead, columnist Yakub Melikik of the weekly Wprost notes that in the context of the Polish-Ukrainian differences, it is necessary to pay attention to the political realities in Poland and in Ukraine.

Let us recall that in Ukraine, according to polls, the rating of President Poroshenko and the top leadership is fatal, trust in the authorities is at a catastrophically low level. This explains why there is no favorable atmosphere for solving difficult topics, such as the Polish question. I do not think that this will happen quickly, regardless of whether the Law on INP would be updated or not. I think this is one of the much more important elements of Ukrainian domestic policy for the authorities in Kyiv than the simple decision – to sit down and negotiate with the Poles”, he remarks.

At the same time, Katarzhina Pelchynska-Nalench does not overestimate the importance of historical issues with Poland in domestic politics of Ukraine.

For Ukrainians, now much more important historical issues are related to Russia, and they are, first of all, building their identity. Paradoxically, Poland’s policy with a great emphasis on history provoked the presence of a historical perspective with Poland in Ukrainian current politics. But today this is not the most important thing in Ukraine. However, this is important in Poland. It seems that what happened to the law on INP and monuments, and this two-way escalation, is caused by domestic political factors in Poland”, she says.

Yakub Melynk reminds that the new provisions of the Law on INP, which, in particular, criminalize the denial of the crimes of Ukrainian nationalists, were very negatively perceived not only in Ukraine, but also in Israel and the United States.

The international response to the amendments to the INP Law was devastating for Polish diplomatic interests and these effects still continue. We must remember that Ukrainians are concentrating on shaping their identity separately from Russia in order to break down what has been pushed there under pressure for 70 years. The formation of a non-Russian Ukrainian identity is very much related to the memory of the UPA, which for the Ukrainians was an organization fighting Russian dominance, while in Poland it is considered criminal. Therefore, these things do not merge with each other. Do not forget also that over a million Ukrainians live and work over Vistula, and there are no problems at the human level”, says the columnist.

Katarzyna Pelchinska-Nalenc emphasizes that, in comparison with the Israeli reaction, the Ukrainian reaction was moderate, despite the new law on so-called Ukrainian crimes. Let me remind you that in the present form of the document it is written about “actions committed by Ukrainian nationalists in 1925-1950, which consist of the use of violence, terror and other forms of human rights violations against individuals and groups of people”. It is also noted that “such crimes included the participation of Ukrainian nationalists in the destruction of Jews and the assassinations of citizens of the II RP in Volyn and Eastern Malopolska.”

First of all, geographic names were used in relation to modern Ukrainian lands in the categories of the Second Commonwealth. This is a highly controversial way, especially in an official document. These Ukrainian crimes are mentioned and given disproportionate importance to the German and Soviet crimes mentioned here. As if there were no similar crimes committed by representatives of other nationalities in the region. The Ukrainians are too disproportionately focused at. If this law comes into force in this form, then Ukrainian scientists, experts, and even politicians who live in Poland can be formally put forward allegations of crime for expressing views that, for the Poles, are a diminution of Ukrainian crimes against the Polish people. This undoubtedly overwhelms the possibility of a normal Polish-Ukrainian historical dialogue. Historical issues should not influence the whole Polish-Ukrainian relations. It leads to ruin. History is important, but it should have its place”, – she is convinced.

Therefore, the entry into force of these amendments in its present form will be a fatal step for the Polish-Ukrainian relations, which are not the best in recent times, experts say. However, politicians over Vistula increasingly talk about possible changes in the Ukrainian part of the updated Law on INP, which signed and sent for further review to the Constitutional Court by Andrzej Duda. It has recently become known that the head of the Polish state objected to the submission of a law to the Constitutional Court with the words “Ukrainian nationalists” and “Eastern Malopolska”. It remains to rely on the consciousness of those people who will make the final decision on the form of this lofty Polish law, the observers say.