Ukraine’s entry into the European Union faces a roadblock as a dispute between Ukraine and Poland over the exhumation of Polish victims of a wartime massacre persists, according to Pawel Jablonski, the Deputy Polish Foreign Minister.
Between 1943-44, the ultra-nationalist Organisation of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN) killed around 100,000 Poles in the Volhynia and Eastern Galicia regions, now part of western Ukraine. Despite the solidarity forged during the Russian invasion of Ukraine, these historical events continue to strain Ukrainian-Polish relations. Referred to collectively as the Volhynia Massacre, the killings haunt several villages.
Jablonski highlighted a ‘significant dispute’ regarding Polish demands for exhuming massacre victims, stating that resolving this issue is crucial for Poland to be Ukraine’s ally in the EU. Speaking on private radio station Radio Zet, Jablonski defended the government’s exhumation efforts, noting ongoing talks with Ukraine. He acknowledged the initial search operations and expressed determination to expedite the process.
Jablonski emphasized the pivotal role of resolving this dispute, asserting that without a solution, Ukraine’s EU aspirations remain distant. He stressed that long-term reconciliation with Ukraine hinges on resolving this historical issue, underscoring the complexity of the challenge faced by both nations.