Ukrainian parliament’s speaker stops short of apologizing for WWII Volhynia massacre in speech to Polish lawmakers

Ruslan Stefanchuk said he understood the pain felt by Poles regarding the events in Volhynia and expressed his sympathy for the victims

editor: Grzegorz Adamczyk
The chairman of the Ukrainian parliament, Ruslan Stefanchuk, speaks to Poland's lawmakers in Warsaw, Poland, Thursday, May 25, 2023, to thank Poland for its military and humanitarian support in the war against Russia. (AP Photo/Czarek Sokolowski)

The speaker of the Ukrainian parliament, Ruslan Stefanchuk, reached out to Polish deputies in a speech to the Polish parliament on Thursday regarding the anti-Polish genocidal ethnic cleansing conducted by Ukrainian nationalists during World War II, known as the Volhynia massacre, but stopped short of apologizing for the event.

“Another anniversary of the terrible events that took place in Volhynia is approaching. We understand your pain at the loss of loved ones. To all their descendants, I want to express my sincere sympathy,” he told Polish lawmakers.

Stefanchuk said that Ukraine wanted to cooperate with Poland over commemorating the victims. “We are ready and open to cooperation with Poland. Together we shall be searching and honoring places of remembrance. Together we will discover the identity of the victims who still lie in unnamed graves in both Ukraine and Poland,” he declared.

He also called for “a commemoration that does not call for vengeance or hate but rather the determination that this should never be repeated between our two nations.

“Together, we have to meet this difficult but important challenge. Together, we shall find the truth and come to a conclusion that is just,” Stefanchuk added.

Commenting on the address, Jan Mosiński, an MP from the ruling conservative Law and Justice party (PiS), said it was significant that Stefanchuk promised that the matter of the Volhynia massacre would be fully explored. He noted that the Ukrainian official had adopted terms used by German and Polish bishops in the 1960s of forgiving and asking for forgiveness. However, he added that what was missing was “a more emphatic apology.”

Mosiński concluded that the issue probably needed to await a more suitable moment for a full explanation. “When the right time comes, the issue of the massacre and genocide in Volhynia will be acknowledged fully by Ukraine. I am optimistic that in the future we will have a full acknowledgment of this very painful experience,” said the ruling party MP.

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