The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry responded to criticism of Poland and Israel about honoring Stepan Bandera and a number of people who collaborated with the Nazis, citing the revival of "national memory." The press secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Kateryna Zelenko, stated this to the UNN news agency request regarding the statement of the ambassadors of Poland and Israel.
“The revival and preservation of the national memory of the Ukrainian people is one of the priority areas of Ukraine's state policy. Each people and each state independently determines and honors its heroes,” Zelenko said.
She remembered that certain figures, institutions, and even countries were interested in discord between Ukrainians and other peoples because of the celebration of national heroes and important dates.
However, Zelenko added that the friendship and partnership between Ukraine on the one hand, and Poland and Israel on the other, is the most important asset, and any attempts to provoke tension in bilateral relations should be prevented.
“Civilized nations should proceed from the principle of honoring all those who have died, and discussions in this area should continue at the level of historians and experts, not politicians,” the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry spokesperson emphasized.
As we reported, Heads of diplomatic missions of Poland and Israel in Ukraine stand against paying tribute to Stepan Bandera and Andriy Melnyk. They were the leaders of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN), a violently anti-Semitic organization, which collaborated with the Nazis.
The joint statement of Bartosz Cichocki and Joel Lion followed after the torch processions in Kyiv and Lviv, as members and supporters of far-right organizations honored Bandera and Melnyk in Kyiv and Lviv on January 2.
“Remembering our innocent brothers and sisters murdered in the occupied territories of Poland 1935-1945, which now constitute a part of Ukraine, we the Ambassadors of Poland and Israel believe, that celebrating these individuals is an insult,” Lion and Cichocki wrote.