понеділок, 20 лютого 2023 р.

Polish historian Marek Mikolajczyk: "Helping Ukraine is our human duty"

Marek Mikolajczyk is the professor of the Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznań has worked together with the Ukrainian-Polish Research Institute operating at the Black Sea National University named after Petrо Mohyla.

He has taken part in conferences, symposiums, round tables on the topic of European integration of Ukraine and Ukrainian-Polish relations.

Mykolaiv is the European city

My collaboration with Mykolaiv began by accident. I had joint scientific projects with Kharkiv National University named after V. N. Karazin. During one conference I met Olga Morozova - the doctor of historical science from Mykolaiv. She invited me to conduct a series of lectures for Mykolaiv students. The lectures about the history of European integration and Poland's path to the European Union.
I think the experience of Poland is a better example than the experience of those countries that have created the history of the EU from the very beginning. I saw great interest in this topic from the students. In addition, I have never felt so proud to be a Pole as during communication with Ukrainian students.

I understood that since 2014, Europeanization has gotten deeper into various spheres of the Ukrainians ' lives. That there are big changes that happen because of the small things many people do every day.
And these joint actions are gradually moving forward Ukrainian society.
The new generation with zero tolerance for corruption has grown in Ukraine. Decentralization has begun to operate as the leading reform.
Many people have realized that freedom and independence have to be paid for. The feeling that every person can influence life inside the country is the strength of the Ukrainian development model and it is impossible for authoritarian post-Soviet countries.
I believe this unique development path of Ukraine will be recognized as a successful one by the whole world. We planned to implement new Polish-Ukrainian projects in Mykolaiv but the pandemic began.

It was not possible to travel, and therefore I had no opportunity to come to Mykolaiv. However, we tried to continue the cooperation remotely. And even now, during the war, we continue to do it.

Olga Morozova and Olga Gaidai have moved to Poland and continue their professional activities as scientists here. They have an opportunity to do more useful things for Ukraine in Poland.

Battles for Mykolaiv have continued from the first day of the russian invasion. As a result of regular enemy shelling, the university where I had given lectures was destroyed, and the city's infrastructure was also destroyed. There is no water supply in the city now.

But Mykolaiv has been and remains the unconquered city, it has been awarded the title of the "Hero City of Ukraine". Solidarity of the Polish people with Ukrainians during the war. I was shocked when got the news of the beginning of the full-scale russian invasion of Ukraine on the February 24th 2022,

I thought it was impossible for such a war to start in Europe in the 21st century. I talked to many experts about it and they also did not believe in the realism of such scenario.
They have believed that it is beneficial for russia to have a "frozen conflict" and not an open war. But it has happened unfortunately. And the Ukrainians surprised the whole world with the strength of their resistance. And the Poles are the force of social mobilization aimed at helping Ukrainians.
I did not even expect that the enthusiasm of our citizens would be so powerful. And that the Poles will consider it as their duty to help their eastern neighbors who have become innocent victims of russian aggression.
The first aid came from ordinary citizens who organized themselves and went to the border to meet Ukrainians there. They shared the food, water, basic necessities, clothes, provided transport, took them into their homes, helped in solving various issues like arranging children for kindergartens and schools, drove to hospitals, bought medicine.
After some days, the country settled many issues regarding assistance to refugees. Various Polish and international institutions began to provide funding. Also for projects that will contribute to the integration of refugees.

Integration of Ukrainians in Poland

There are several factors that accelerated the integration of Ukrainians in our country. The first point is that many Ukrainians had worked in Poland and that is why their relatives came here after the Russian invasion. It was easier for these people, because they had housing here and the support of relatives.
Secondly, the Polish language is similar to Ukrainian, and it will take several months to understand it and speak Polish.The third point is that many people have professional connections here.

These are, for example, Ukrainian scientists who have cooperated with Polish educational institutions for many years, who know Polish or English.

Nowadays these people work here by profession and have received various assistance and living places. Fourth point is the state of mental health of the refugees. People who were able to heal war injuries faster were integrated better and had time to take advantage of various opportunities. 
And those people who were focused on their problems for a long time or had a hard time experiencing the pain of loss, could not properly receive the help offered during the first months.
In addition, no one knows for what period they have come to Poland: for a few weeks, for a few months, for a few years or forever?

It is still unknown.

And this state of uncertainty also affects people's lives.

For example, many Ukrainians have not taken advantage of the opportunity to learn the Polish language for free, because they believed that the war would end soon and they would return home.
But now there are many people who have nowhere to return. These are frontline communities, these are occupied territories. 

There are no conditions for life there, it is dangerous. Therefore people have started looking for work here. And this, unlike Ukraine, cannot be done without knowledge of the state language.

War for the freedom of Europe

Like the majority of Polish citizens, I also believe that helping Ukraine in humanitarian and military directions is our moral duty.

Ukrainians are also fighting for our freedom. Ukraine has huge losses currently. But, for example, some destroyed buildings have already begun to be restored in Kyiv. The situation is worse in Mykolaiv, Kharkiv, and Bakhmut. But I believe that everything will be rebuilt.

My confidence comes from historical experience.

After the Second World War, Ukrainian and Polish cities that resisted were also destroyed.

For example, Warsaw turned into a complete ruin.

But it was rebuilt with joint efforts.

Historical experience shows that everything that was destroyed during wars or during other disasters is rebuilt again.

Therefore, I am sure that the Ukrainians, with the support of their European partners, will quickly restore everything they have lost.

And the renewed Ukraine will be even more beautiful and stronger.

Tetiana Bakotska.

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