Dr. Raul Carstocea has just returned from the 9th Europe-Ukraine Forum in Łódź, Poland. Among prominent experts and politicians, Dr. Carstocea participated in the event to moderate a panel on Polish-Ukrainian relations in light of their problematic history.
The annual Forum is a large scale and high level event with over 700 participants; most of the speakers were senior public officials, members of their respective parliaments and/or governments, including:
- Minister of Foreign Affairs of Poland, Mr. Witold Waszczykowski,
- Speaker of the Polish Sejm, Mr. Marek Kuchcinski,
- Vice-President of the European Parliament, Mr. Ioan Mircea Pascu,
- Deputy Speaker of the Supreme Council of Ukraine Ms. Oksana Syroyid,
- Chairman of the Parliament of Georgia, Mr. David Usupashvili.
Dr. Carstocea was invited to moderate a panel on “Ethnic Minorities and Dialogue on Common History: A Challenge for Ukraine and its Neighbours”. The aim of the panel was to address primarily Polish-Ukrainian relations in light of their problematic history, particularly during the interwar period and Second World War. Other participants in the panel were:
- Mr. Jan Dziedziczak, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Poland;
- Mr. Jean-Pierre Froehly, Senior Political Advisor and Head of the Director’s Office, ODIHR, OSCE;
- Mr. Nikolajs Kabanovs, Member of the Parliament of Latvia and International Board Director of the LABA trade union;
- Mr. Ivan Krulko, Member of the Parliament of Ukraine;
- Mr. Dan Stoenescu, Minister Delegate for Romanians Abroad, Government of Romania.
In his opening presentation, Dr. Carstocea emphasised the shared history of Poles and Ukrainians, and the multi-cultural character of the provinces they inhabited before World War II; the fact that identities that were multiple and fluid were politically instrumentalised into antagonistic positions, resulting in ethnic cleansing carried out by both groups against the other; about the problems that the recent de-communisation laws pose for Polish-Ukrainian relations; and about the need for cooperation between historians and historical institutes and their engaging in open dialogue rather than attempting to ‘legislate’ the past.
The discussions after the opening statements focused on controversial issues such as: Europe, Russia and Ukraine; the refugee crisis and whether it has led to a marginalisation of the Ukrainian crisis in the media and European institutions’ attention; the role of history in understanding the dynamics of the conflict and how the two sides perceive it.
The event took place between 24-26 January and included a number of panel discussions and side events, with over 450 speakers involved. One of the special events at the Forum was Tim Judah’s (war journalist, currently a special correspondent of The Economist) book launch (“In Wartime. Stories from Ukraine”), based on interviews he conducted in 2014 and 2015 with people from both sides involved in the conflict.