Saturday, June 25, 2005

Poland and Ukraine: how adult countries act

The right leader matters. Democracy matters. Letting go of the past so it doesn't destroy the future matters.

great story from the BBC about the re-opening of a Polish cemetary in what is now Ukraine.
Ukraine's Viktor Yushchenko and his Polish counterpart Aleksander Kwasniewski were attending ceremonies to remember those killed in 1918-1920.
The Lviv graveyard, built when the city was part of Poland, had always been a contentious issue, as it became a symbol of Polish victory in territory that was fought over for centuries.

The BBC's Helen Fawkes said ties improved significantly after many people in Poland backed the Ukrainian opposition protests of the Orange Revolution last year, which led to Mr Yushchenko becoming president.
"This cemetery holds the remains of former fellow students, schoolchildren, neighbours and relatives. Some of them [fought under] the Ukrainian trident, others under the Polish eagle. One people's defeat never was another people's victory.

"The fact that the two presidents visited the Lychakivske cemetery together shows that Ukraine and Poland are brave enough to look the past in the eye."

He said the main conclusion from history was that "there is no free Poland without a free Ukraine, and there is no free Ukraine without a free Poland".

Mr Kwasniewski said Ukraine and Poland should cherish the gift of freedom that both nations received amid the dissolution of the Soviet Union.
Interesting to know that stupid populist politicians aren't unique to the U.S.
Ukraine's parliament called for the service to be cancelled until the inscriptions on the graves were changed from Polish to Ukrainian.

Mr Yushchenko's office condemned the move. On Thursday, the resolution was annulled, allowing the ceremony to go ahead.
Somewhere, The Gipper is smiling.

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