Opening remarks by Viacheslav Yatsiuk, Ambassador of Ukraine
to Norway at the Ukrainian-Norwegian webinar
“Learning History for Better Future”, 26 November 2020
Ladies and Gentlemen!
I would like to welcome you at our digital event “Learning History for Better Future” devoted to two important historical themes – the Holodomor in Ukraine and the role of Ukraine during the Second World War.
This webinar is organized by the Embassy of Ukraine in Norway and Norwegian organization “Support to the People of Ukraine” with an active involvement of members of the local Ukrainian community in Norway to whom I am most grateful.
We will address today the historical events, and, of course, whenever we talk about history, we always think of how to relate it to our present.
In my short introduction I would like to disclose the rational for choosing these two particular historical themes.
Those of you who are following international politics might hear quite often that what is decided now in Ukraine extends so far beyond its borders. That it will have a significant impact on the future of Europe, on the future of Russia and neighbouring countries, and even on the future of transatlantic relations. And of course, this includes impact on Norway and the most fundamental Norwegian interests.
For example, most authoritative experts agree that Ukraine’s 2004 Orange Revolution and 2014 Revolution of Dignity had profoundly influenced the international relations of the last two decades.
There is also the overwhelming consensus that the success of Ukraine in responding to the challenge of the Russian aggression will not only be crucial to the security of Europe, including the security of Norway, but maybe even predetermine the role of Europe in the geopolitics of the twenty-first century.
It is very important that there is a better understanding within the Norwegian society of what is now decided and what is now at stake in Ukraine. Because this will result in a stronger and more proactive engagement of Norway with Ukraine.
And it might be very helpful in this respect if we look into not so distant past and try to understand better what was decided and what was at stake in Ukraine just 75 or 80 years ago.
It may also lead to unexpected new knowledge for the Norwegian society.
How many Norwegians are aware of the fact that the Holodomor of 1932-1933 in Ukraine remains the largest genocide in the history of humankind? At least, 4,5 million Ukrainians lost their lives as a result of the artificial famine organized by the Stalin totalitarian regime in order to subjugate the Ukrainian nation. At the same time, many reputable researchers conclude that the actual total number of victims of the Holodomor in Ukraine was much higher.
How many Norwegians are aware of the fact that more Ukrainians died fighting the Nazi than the Americans, the British, and the French combined, and that in absolute numbers the total human losses of Ukraine during the Second World War were the highest among all nations? According to official data, at least 8 million Ukrainians lost their lives, but many authoritative sources provide compelling evidence that the general demographic loss of Ukraine, including those killed, deported, evacuated, the victims of concentration camps, and those who went into exile add up to at least 14 million people.
If you are overwhelmed by what you will learn today from the authoritative historians and researchers who agreed to be the speakers at our webinar, please share this new knowledge with your families, friends, and colleagues. Please, help to raise the awareness in the Norwegian society about what was at stake in Ukraine and what was done by the Ukrainians during the twentieth century.
Ukraine does not expect a lot from Norway in response. Ukraine only hopes that one day Norway will join the increasing number of countries which recognized the Holodomor as an act of genocide against the Ukrainian people.
We only hope that compassionate Norwegians will convince their Government on why it would be both right and important to erect a memorial in Oslo that would pay tribute to the memories of the Ukrainians who lost their lives in the Second World War on the territory of Norway, including during the liberation of northern Norway from the Nazis in 1944.
Ladies and gentlemen!
I would like to thank you for joining our today’s digital event. I would like to thank our distinguished speakers both from Ukraine, Norway and even the United States for their kind willingness to contribute to the programme. And I would also like to thank our excellent moderators – Per-Kaare Holdal and Oksana Huk – who will now start the webinar.