Ukraine has begun to mark a number of anniversaries linked with the Ukrainian Revolution of 1917-21, an event that was the beginning of the creation of the last century’s first Ukrainian state with its inherent institutions – parliament, the government, and the army. It is extremely important to mark the centennials of those structures, for this shows the continuity of Ukrainian state-forming traditions and rejects the claims of Russian propaganda that independent Ukraine emerged quite accidentally in 1991. Particularly, this year marks the cen-tenary of modern Ukrainian diplomacy.
It is an event of paramount national and international importance.
On December 22, 1917, Volodymyr Vynnychenko and Oleksandr Shulhin signed an act on establishing the General Secretariat of International Affairs – Ukraine’s first foreign ministry in the 20th century.
This date spans a wide historical space. It is about the beginning of the professional activity of many generations of Ukrainian diplomats and about the sacred memory of the Ukrainian patriots, politicians, artists, and cultural figures who have cared in and outside their native land over a century about our presence on the world’s map.
It is about our respect for our own selves.
The 100th anniversary of Ukrainian diplomacy must not pass in a humdrum and inexpressive way. Our state cannot afford such lapses of memory.
Honoring this date on the highest governmental level would be a distinct message both to our society and to the world: we were not born yesterday and our actions are based on a great tradition that deserves to be cherished.
And, undoubtedly, an honest look at the ups and downs of the past should prove that vital challenges to Ukraine and Europe have in fact remained the same. Accordingly, the world’s joint reaction to the challenges of Russian aggression and “Realpolitik” must not repeat the mistakes of light-mindedness and cowardice which led to upheavals in the past century.
Diplomats are getting ready for this event.
Yet marking the centennial of our modern diplomacy goes beyond the limits of the profession and is of importance to the entire state – our society, media, and political leadership.
We are sure this event will be a good opportunity for the President of Ukraine, as one who shapes this country’s foreign policy, to spell out the fundamental principles, guidelines, and the most important goals of our foreign policy: resisting the aggressor, consolidating efforts to protect international law and a civilized world order, obtaining collective security guarantees for Ukraine, and opening up its culture to the world – returning it to the world’s “mental map.”
We are sure that preparations for the centenary will create conditions for adopting a new law on diplomatic service in Ukraine.
December 22, 2017, should be viewed as not the final but the beginning of celebrating the centennial of national diplomacy. Both foreign friends and our citizens are supposed to know our history.
In our opinion, those taking part in the National Opera celebrations should include members of the Diplomatic Academy, all the top leadership, the national diplomatic corps, and foreign diplomats.
The centennial of Ukrainian diplomacy, as well as of our national revolution and the establishment of modern statehood must not sink into a drab and indistinct mediocrity. We have no right to make this mistake. Our duty is to pursue a majestic, talented, and successful diplomacy and foreign policy. Respecting ourselves, we will help the world respect us.
We think this event is a good occasion for inviting foreign ministers of the neighboring states and partners to Ukraine. This informal assembly would be an opportunity to sum up the year’s achievements, particularly as far as peaceful settlement and international deterrence of Russia is concerned. This meeting would look like a natural continuation of and a good link to Independence Day and the visit of defense ministers.
On the occasion of the centennial, it would be a good idea to put up a commemorative plaque at the facade of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which would be a sign of memory about the centenary of the foundation of Ukraine’s first foreign-policy agency and a fact of paying tribute to all the Ukrainian patriots who cherished a dream of independence, cared about Ukraine’s presence on the international arena, and maintained an uninterrupted continuity of Ukrainian national diplomacy.
What would be a natural element of marking the centennial of Ukrainian diplomacy is the issue of thematic postage stamps and coins.
It is also advisable in this case to explore the possibility of renaming streets in Kyiv after Oleksandr Shulhin, the first foreign minister of Ukraine, and some of the most important friends of Ukraine, including Jerzy Giedroyc.
The centennial of Ukrainian diplomacy, as well as of our national revolution and the establishment of modern statehood must not sink into a drab and indistinct mediocrity.
We have no right to make this mistake.
Our duty is to pursue a majestic, talented, and successful diplomacy and foreign policy.
Respecting ourselves, we will help the world respect us.
Hanna HOPKO, chairperson of the Verkhovna Rada Foreign Affairs Committee; Volodymyr VIATROVYCH, director of the Institute of National Remembrance; Danylo LUBKIVSKYI, deputy foreign minister of Ukraine in 2014