Poland is critical about the appointment of Ukraine’s former ambassador to Germany, Andriy Melnyk, to the post of deputy foreign minister, Minister Andrzej Dera from President Andrzej Duda's Office said.
The diplomat’s appointment was announced on Friday by Taras Melnychuk, the Ukrainian government’s representative to parliament.
Melnyk justifies massacre of Polish population
The new deputy FM has been known for his very critical remarks about the German government after the Russian invasion of Ukraine and for his statements justifying the massacres of the Polish population carried out by Stepan Bandera’s Organisation of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN).
“He was called a fascist by others, but he never called himself that way,” Melnyk then said and added that there is no evidence that Bandera's troops murdered tens of thousands of Poles in 1943-1944.
Furthermore, in an interview published on YouTube in June, Melnyk, the then ambassador to Germany, said that “Bandera was one of those who fought for the freedom and independence of Ukraine" and that "He operated in difficult circumstances, between two totalitarian systems: the Soviet one and Nazi Germany... He cannot be put in line with people like Hitler. He wanted to use the Nazi Germans to achieve his own goal: independence of Ukraine.”
He went on to argue that Bandera was a Ukrainian hero.
He was dismissed as the ambassador to Germany
by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in July.
Bandera, a Ukrainian wartime nationalist leader, remains a deeply divisive historical figure. To some, he is a hero who fought for a free Ukraine, while to others he is a criminal, responsible for the murder of countless thousands of Poles and Jews.
Bandera narrative is unacceptable: official
“Personally, I am surprised, because as the Polish side, we always oppose the Bandera narrative, it is unacceptable and in no way can we accept politicians who introduce such a narrative into the public space,” Minister Andrzej Dera said, commenting on Melnyk’s appointment as a deputy foreign minister.
He added that Poland, however, is not a country that interferes in internal affairs and the appointment of politicians to functions in another country.
A blow to the heart of Polish families in Volhynia
Deputy Speaker of the Sejm, Poland’s lower house of parliament, Piotr Zgorzelski from the Polish People’s Party said that Melnyk’s appointment was “a blow to the heart of Polish families in Volhynia”.
He noted that next year Poland will mark the 80th anniversary of the Volhynia massacre in which Ukrainian nationalists slaughtered around 100,000 Poles in the Volhynia and East Galicia regions between 1943 and 1945.
“On the eve of the 80th anniversary, a man who equates Bandera’s crimes with alleged Polish crimes is appointed to the post of deputy foreign minister. This is unacceptable,” Zgorzelski said.
Other Polish politicians across the board also slammed the appointment of Andriy Melnyk as a mistake.