There are holidays and holidays. Some of the dates just honor the tradition and ceremony, but there were and still are Ukrainian holidays that muster the nation’s strength and show us a difficult, thorny, and exhausting, like a climb onto a snowy peak, but the only way to the future that is worthy of a proud nation. One of such holidays that will always remind us of an imperative of the national unity of all Ukrainians from Uzhhorod to Luhansk (an imperative is, incidentally, not that which has already been achieved but that which still requires a strenuous effort every minute!) is the Day of Ukrainian Unity celebrated on Jan. 22.
This is not a chance date. For it was on Jan. 22, 1919, that an Act of Unity (Sobornist, or Zluka) was proclaimed on Kyiv’s Sophia Square in the presence of the leaders of the Ukrainian National Republic and the West Ukrainian National Republic, i.e., the leading personalities of Halychyna and Dnipro Ukrainians, the two branches of our nation that had been tragically separated from each other for almost six centuries). A decree was also issued, which said in particular, “From now on, the parts of Ukraine that were separated from each other for centuries — the West Ukrainian National Republic, including Halychyna, Bukovyna, Hungarian Rus, and Dniproside Ukraine — are uniting into one independent state, the Ukrainian National Republic. From now on, the Ukrainian people have an opportunity, in a powerful upsurge of their own forces, to bring together all the aspirations of their sons to establish an undivided and independent Ukrainian state for the benefit and happiness of the working people.”
The idea of Ukrainian unity, to which our people were committed throughout centuries, needs as much sober courage as possible, rather than sweet patriotic phrases which cause grave harm, perhaps even as grave as overtly chauvinistic loutishness.
From the historical perspective, we should admit that in 1919 the Act of Unity remained just a declaration due to a large number of factors of both external (reluctance of the Entente countries to support, let alone recognize, the idea of Ukrainian independence, and, naturally, the military intervention of Moscow, the White Army, and the aforesaid Entente) and internal nature. Symon Petliura wrote three weeks before his death, “Given the state of national awareness, organization and discipline of our nation in 1917-1918, only a well-coordinated action of its two parts — Dniproside and Halychyna Ukrainians — could have helped achieve the ideal of political independence. There was no such coordination from the very beginning of the struggle. Both parts were not mature enough to accept the necessity of a single ruling will. The idea of a united Ukraine was in fact a mere phrase to be pronounced on festive occasions.”
This thought of Petliura has quite a tangible bearing on the present-day situation, doesn’t it? The solemn “oaths of allegiance” to the idea of a united Ukraine, taken by statesmen who, in reality (a bitter truth!), only think of their business interests and of which of them is really the first in this state, are nothing but cynical incantations that cannot inspire confidence by definition.