1990: A LOOK BACK
Meanwhile, in Poland...
Of the diaspora communities, Ukrainians in Poland seemed to be in the headlines during 1990 more prominently than others, due in large measure to the awakening of that 300,000-strong community after long years of fearful or, at best, uncertain silence.
In August, the First World Forum of the Ukrainian Diaspora took place in Bialy Bor, Koszalin County. The three-day forum, organized by the newly founded Association of Ukrainians in Poland (formerly the Ukrainian Social-Cultural Society) in cooperation with the World Congress of Free Ukrainians, brought together representatives of the Ukrainian diaspora from Canada, Germany, France, England, Belgium, Czecho-Slovakia, Romania, Yugoslavia, the United States, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Russia and, of course, Poland. Also present were leading members of the Popular Movement of Ukraine (Rukh) and the democratic opposition (National Council) in Ukraine's Parliament.
The forum discussed topics as diverse as Ukraine's place in contemporary Europe, the role of Ukrainian communities in their host countries and the importance of Ukrainian journalists in the formation of world public opinion.
The forum, although organized on very short notice and not well publicized beforehand, was seen as a first step toward the future creation of a World Congress of Ukrainians.
During the landmark event, participants also had an opportunity to meet with Solidarity members of the Polish Sejm (Parliament).
Similarly in May, a historic meeting between Ukrainian and Polish parliamentarians was held in the Jablonna Palace outside Warsaw. More than 40 prominent representatives of democratic forces in the two neighboring states participated, among them: Ivan Drach, Mykhailo and Bohdan Horyn, Dmytro Pavlychko, Vyacheslav Chornovil and Myroslav Popovych from Ukraine; and Jacek Kuron, Adam Michnik, Bronislaw Geremek, Zbigniew Bujak and Janusz Onyszkiewicz of Poland. The meeting candidly discussed Ukrainian-Polish relations and laid the foundation for better ties between the two nations.
On August 3, the Polish Senate adopted a resolution condemning the 1947 forced resettlement of Ukrainians from their native lands, then a part of eastern Poland, to the "recovered territories" in western Poland. Known as Akcja Wisla (Operation Vistula), the action brutally executed by the Polish military relocated between 150,000 and 250,000 Ukrainians - purportedly in order to liquidate the armed Ukrainian underground.
Though widely regarded as a step forward in Ukrainian-Polish relations, the resolution, it must be pointed out, was passed by the 100-member Senate, where Solidarity controlled 99 seats. The 460-member Sejm, which had been debating a similar resolution, had yet to act on it.
Ukrainian community leaders were quick to add that in addition to resettling the Ukrainian populace, the Polish government at the same time had adopted several laws confiscating the property of deportees, including the assets of the Ukrainian Catholic Church. Thus, the Ukrainian community in Poland insists not only that Operation Vistula be condemned, but that all discriminatory measures be repealed.
Finally, during 1990, Ukrainian women in Poland, too, became active. In late October the Women's Association of Poland was accepted as a member-organization by the World Federation of Ukrainian Women's Organizations.
Copyright © The Ukrainian Weekly, December 30, 1990, No. 52, Vol. LVIII
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