The President’s message reads, in particular:
“I agree that humanitarian cooperation between Russia and Ukraine is a very important part of the strategic partnership between our countries. The state of affairs in this area is a clear indicator of the general state of our bilateral relations.
Unfortunately, it is precisely in this area that we have had some significant differences of late. It is not Moscow that has taken the ‘initiative’ in these instances. What I am referring to, above all, is the particular interpretation Ukraine has given to events in our common history, the tendency to view war criminals who collaborated with the Nazis as heroes, the ‘war’ unleashed against historical monuments and the burial sites of Soviet soldiers in a number of Ukraine’s regions, increasing discrimination against the Russian language, and activity aimed at provoking division within the Ukrainian Orthodox Church. These unfriendly steps have already cast a cloud over relations between our two countries. Moreover, they could seriously damage bilateral cooperation in various areas.
As for the concerns you expressed regarding the situation with the Ukrainian Literature Library in Moscow, as additional study of the issue shows, there is no cause for concern. I would like to note that the Moscow City Government has established an exemplary cultural institution that completely meets the cultural, education and information needs of Ukrainians living in the Russian capital. The number of people using the Library’s services has considerably increased of late and the Library has expanded its cultural program. Furthermore, the Library is an important supplier of literature for Ukrainian communities in other cities in the Russian Federation.
I am sure that the Moscow City Government, which provides comprehensive support for this Ukrainian cultural centre at the heart of our capital, will remain capable of independently resolving any problems that arise and will make the appropriate human resources decisions. Our position is that the Library should be involved exclusively in cultural activity and should work towards building up the spirit of trust between the Russian and Ukrainian peoples.
It is important that a supervisory board composed of activists from Ukrainian civic organisations is attached to the Library. This board includes a representative of the Ukrainian Embassy in the Russian Federation. The Moscow City Government is willing to accept Ukraine’s request and expand the board by including prominent cultural figures among its members.
We hope that Ukraine, for its part, will also give due attention to Russian cultural institutions in Ukraine. We are particularly concerned about the future of the Russian Cultural Centre in Lvov, which has become the target of frequent attacks by nationalists. The local law enforcement agencies have not yet solved a single one of the numerous acts of vandalism perpetrated against the Centre. I am sure that interest and involvement in this issue from your part would help to return the situation with the Russian community in Lvov to normal, and this would certainly help to bolster the understanding between our countries.
I propose that the sub-committee of the Russian-Ukrainian Intergovernmental Commission, which we head, should take additional measures to examine this situation and resolve the problems that have arisen in this sensitive area, and that it should also draft proposals on ways to strengthen cultural and humanitarian cooperation.
I would also like to draw your attention to the draft decision of the Council of CIS Heads of State of November 22, 2007, declaring 2008 the Year of Literature and Reading in the CIS. The implementation of this decision aims to promote the development of libraries and national literature, cooperation in book publishing, book exchanges and translation in the CIS countries. We hope that Ukraine will join this initiative that will mutually enrich literary contacts between our countries and that will see important cultural and educational events organised throughout the CIS”.