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Ukraine's top lawmaker addresses Polish parliament, thanks Poles for help

25.05.2023 16:00
Ukrainian parliamentary leader Ruslan Stefanchuk has thanked the Polish authorities and public for ”standing shoulder to shoulder" with his country from day one of Russia’s invasion in a speech to Polish parliament.
Ukrainian parliamentary leader Ruslan Stefanchuk addresses Polish lawmakers in Warsaw on Thursday, May 25, 2023.
Ukrainian parliamentary leader Ruslan Stefanchuk addresses Polish lawmakers in Warsaw on Thursday, May 25, 2023.PAP/Tomasz Gzell

Ruslan Stefanchuk, who is chairman of Ukraine’s Verkhovna Rada unicameral parliament, addressed the Sejm, the lower house of Poland's parliament, in Warsaw on Thursday, Polish state news agency PAP reported.

'Shoulder to shoulder with Ukraine’

Beginning his address in Polish, Stefanchuk said: “From the first moments of the Russian invasion the Polish nation and the Polish state have stood firmly, shoulder to shoulder with Ukraine.”

He added: “You’ve been telling the whole world, boldly and loudly, that you won’t accept the primacy of might over right, and the violation of principles we all live by.”

Stefanchuk told Polish MPs: “The Polish nation, our close neighbour, has shown unconditional love for a fellow nation. The entire world has been impressed by the extraordinary humanity and equal determination of the Polish people.”

He quoted the words of the late Polish-born pope John Paul II, who said during a visit to Ukraine in 2001 that "the measure of high civilisation is not just economic progress, but first and foremost morality and spirituality.”

The top Ukrainian lawmaker, who is on a two-day visit to Warsaw, also said that the people of Poland had “on many occasions in the nation's history” taken up arms to defend their homeland “against Russian imperialism and communist terror.”

He stated: “I know that today, too, you are ready to stand up for values, for freedom and independence, just like those Ukrainian citizens of Polish descent who are no longer with us, but whom we’ll never forget.”

Stefanchuk told Polish MPs that on Wednesday he paid homage at Warsaw’s Powązki Cemetery to a Polish man named Daniel Sztyber who “along with three fellow Polish brothers spilled his blood for our freedom and yours.”

At the request of the Ukrainian politician, Polish parliamentarians observed a minute’s silence in memory of “those who gave their life for a free Ukraine, for a free Poland, for the values which underpin the free Europe.”

Tribute to Polish victims of Volhynia Massacres

In his speech, Stefanchuk mentioned the "approaching 80th anniversary of the horrific events in Volhynia,” known as the Volhynia Massacres, the PAP news agency reported.

He told the Polish lower house: “We understand your pain at losing your loved ones. I offer my sincere sympathies and gratitude to the families and descendants of the victims of those events in Volhynia, for keeping alive a wise memory of their ancestors.”

The Ukrainian parliamentary leader added: “It’s a memory that doesn’t call for revenge or hatred, but serves as a warning to ensure that never again will anything like that ever happen between our nations.”

Stefanchuk reflected that “history presents us with a unique opportunity and responsibility to become creators of a new future for good neighbours: Poland and Ukraine.”

He said: “Together we must pass this challenging, but exceptionally necessary test, so that the saying ‘we forgive and ask for forgiveness’ assumes real meaning and a practical dimension.”

The Volhynia Massacres were carried out between February 1943 and the spring of 1945 by the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA) in Nazi German-occupied Poland, according to Poland’s National Institute of Remembrance (IPN).

Some 100,000 ethnic Poles in total were slaughtered in the 1940s by Ukrainian forces, according to some estimates.

On July 11, 1943, the day of the worst bloodshed, Ukrainian nationalists attacked 100 villages largely inhabited by Poles in what was then Nazi-occupied eastern Poland and is now western Ukraine.

The massacres were part of an operation carried out by the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA), whose plan was to have a sovereign and nationally homogenous Ukraine after the war.

The Volhynia region, which was within Poland's borders prior to World War II, was first occupied by the Soviets in 1939, and then by the Nazi Germans in 1941.

'Ukraine’s skies are protected by MiG-29 fighter jets supplied by Poland'

In his speech to the Polish lower chamber on Thursday, Ukraine’s Stefanchuk also thanked Poland for its military assistance and support of Kyiv's ongoing war effort against Russian aggression, according to officials.

He told Polish lawmakers: ”We’ll never forget Poland’s leadership of the tank coalition, because it was you who provided us with the first Leopard tanks. Ukraine’s skies are protected by MiG-29 fighter jets supplied by Poland. It is our belief that soon an aircraft coalition will be formed with Poland among its leading members.”

Stefanchuk said that "Ukrainians are defending civilisational values at the cost of their lives."

He added: "Isn't this the strongest argument to finally accept Ukraine into the European and Euro-Atlantic family? The free world must realise that without Ukraine, the European Union and NATO will never be complete."

'Boundless gratitude of all Ukrainians'

Addressing the Polish people, Stefanchuk said he would like his “dear Polish friends” to feel “the boundless gratitude of all Ukrainians” for “everything you are doing for Ukraine today.”

The Ukrainian parliamentary leader added: “I would like us to realise that perhaps for the first time, history is presenting our presidents, parliaments and governments with a unique opportunity and responsibility, to become creators of a new future for the good neighbours: Ukraine and Poland.”

Stefanchuk declared: “I would like us to write our new history together, without retouching it or ripping out any of its pages.”

Thursday is day 456 of Russia’s war on Ukraine.


Source: PAP, interia.pl