The irony here is that Ukraine which cares little for its own citizens and not at all for the Ukrainians residing abroad now faces yet another challenge. The Polish government will soon challenge Ukraine’s treatment of Poles in Ukraine. The Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs is very different than Ukraine’s ministry of similar name and duty. It recently brought to the attention of a special committee on Poles abroad at the Polish parliament the alleged plight of Poles in Ukraine.
The irony is palpable because Ukraine’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs will have to respond, not a novel circumstance but completely foreign to its own actions. Ukraine does not pay attention to the more unfortunate Ukrainians abroad. Surely, it welcomes one fourth of its state budget from Ukrainian laborers outside Ukraine helping their families by transmitting funds. Sure, it welcomes the naivete of the Ukrainian western diaspora with its organizational structures assisting with the establishing of missions and residencies with only a modicum of cheap metal in return.
This is not a new occurrence. Previously, the Parliament of Ukraine had passed a law on higher education. That law required that finals exams be in the state Ukrainian language. Surprisingly the Poles, Hungarians and Romanians were appalled. Ukrainian diplomacy somewhat assuaged the rancor. Hungary went well beyond regular protocol. It withheld Ukraine’s entreaty for NATO membership. Ukraine gave in to some degree by giving the Ukrainian-Hungarians a greater territorial autonomy. The Hungarian side having achieved a partial victory agreed to support Ukraine’s NATO accession.
In 2017 there was a period of Polish persecution against Ukrainians in Poland. This reign of terror was aimed at Ukrainians monuments and even religious observances. The Polish chauvinists cried out: Poland is for Poles. The outbursts were societal in nature but spurred by governmental reluctance to investigate and prosecute.
I personally brought this matter to the attention of then Ukraine’ s permanent representative to the United Nations and was summarily rebuffed for me not surprisingly with the words, Poland and Ukraine are allies. Well, I recently brought up similar and significantly more severe matter of the persecution of Ukrainians in the Russian Federation to the attention of Ukraine’s current Permanent representative to the UN who more arrogantly and dismissively replied, Ukraine is not a Ukrainian country. He also added that Ukraine is not a Christian country inasmuch as I addressed him on October 14, 2021, the Day of Ukraine’s Defender but more popularly known as the Holy Day of the Protection of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Pokrova), historically the date remembering the valor of our Cossacks and the Ukrainian Insurgent Army. I will not blame this and subsequent interactions with a rather ineffective diplomat at the UN on simply a difference of opinion. My subsequent inquiries about him at the UN have resulted in a consensus, Ukraine can certainly do better.
Most Ukrainians in the Diaspora, I know, agree with me on many of my issues, however, they fall like sheep to the generally accepted mantra of going along to getting along. There is always the vision of being bestowed a trinket by the President of Ukraine or at least a picture with the President as my successor at the Ukrainian World Congress would suggest.
The problem is that the President of Ukraine cares not about Ukrainians. I supported Volodymyr Zelensky over Petro Poroshenko because I felt that Poroshenko in his corruption was way over the top. I agreed with Zelensky that he was a creature of Poroshenko’s corruption. Now I see that Zelensky was maneuvering and acting from the very beginning. I last saw him in Kyiv at the 30th anniversary observances. He played his role very well, addressing the one thousand years of Ukrainian statehood. He almost convinced me again except during his subsequent visit to the United States he showed his colors. His Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Permanent Mission to the UN are not Ukrainian. Zelensky will be running again in 2024. He is slowly neutralizing any opposition even within his own party. He is not very sophisticated, but nevertheless, an actor with a script and one which he has cowritten. It is not difficult for me to say that I was so wrong because I have been wrong so many times before.
We Ukrainians are at fault as before. We have been duped so many times. It is so easy to make us amenable with the simplest gestures. Ukraine needs substantial change. Ukraine needs to recognize the role of the indigenous Ukrainian people, the protections they deserve within or outside Ukraine. Taras Shevchenko wrote in his poem “Dolia” about being taken for schooling to make a person of him. His ultimate response was what kind of people have we become. I have many former friends who are conscientiously unable to answer that question.
November 6, 2021 Askold S. Lozynskyj