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In general I'd say that the Russians would be well advised to look at the approach the Poles have taken in their relations with Ukraine. That has involved lots of apologies, long drawn out negotiations over Polish national symbols in Ukraine and how exactly they can be modified in such a way that satisfies Ukrainian sensitivities while keeping them in place, and ignoring things that the Russians would treat as provocations (e.g. the honoring of Ukrainian fascist militias involved in massacring Poles in what is now Western Ukraine.

The normalization of Polish-Ukrainian relations is a praiseworthy undertaking. It's heartwarming to hear that Poles have abandoned old attitudes that led to treating their Ukrainian neighbors as a nation inferior to themselves; no could help but applaud improvement. Moreover, Poland appears to have shown magnanimity in deciding to overlook celebrations in Ukraine to honor Ukrainian collaborators who joined units fighting alongside Nazi forces during the Second World War, committing war crimes, also against Poles.

To my mind, however, Germany has pursued one of the most successful foreign policy courses since the war, towards both its neighbors and other countries, including Russia and Ukraine. The announcement by the German chancellor in office at the time that Germany would not participate in America's invasion of Iraq was a stroke of genius. The chancellor's designation of the American operation as a "military adventure" has proven to be prophetic. It's a shame that Poland and Ukraine sent troops.

Germany has actively supported the democratic and economic development of Ukraine along with its integration in European structures. Germany is Kiev's second most important trading partner after Russia, with over 1,000 German companies operating in Ukraine. Germany has also pursued a policy of reconciliation with Ukraine, stressing responsibility for both the destruction of the country by German forces during the war and the suffering they inflicted on the people, including Ukrainian Jews. Germany pays compensation to former Ukrainian slave laborers, and German officials every year take part in a ceremony at Babi Yar to commemorate the victims of the wartime massacre there.

Germany also maintains excellent relations with Russia, and anytime Germans step in help reconcile nations, in East and West, they can count on my applause.

by Anthony Williamson on Mon May 19th, 2008 at 01:45:06 PM EST
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