President lays wreath at Volhynia Massacre memorial

President Duda stressed that commemoration is necessary in order to avoid “bad memories and hostility.” Tomasz Gzell/PAP

Having laid a wreath at the Volhynia Massacre memorial in Warsaw on the National Day of Remembrance of the massacre of Poles by Ukrainian nationalists during WWII, President Andrzej Duda said that Poland wanted Polish-Ukrainian relations to be best possible.

"The Ukrainian side should permit the exhumations, which are necessary to mark the graves so that the descendants (of victims) can know the places, where they can go to light a candle. And this is the condition under which the massacre could be commemorated in Volhynia," the president said.

"If we are talking today about the building of relations between our nations, between the Polish and Ukrainian people, between our states - and let me stress here, that we want (...) these to be the best possible relations - there is one thing known for sure. We need remembrance so that what happened then, will never repeat itself between our nations and our people," the president said.

President Duda stressed that commemoration is necessary in order to avoid 'bad memories and hostility.'

The Volhynia Massacre of Poles in the pre-war eastern-Polish regions of Volhynia and Galicia culminated on July 11, 1943, when the UPA attacked some 100 Polish villages and is known as the Volhynia Bloody Sunday.

According to historians, around 100,000 Polish nationals were killed in the massacre, including 40,000-60,000 in Volhynia and 20,000-40,000 in Eastern Galicia, and at least 4,000 on the territory of today's Poland. According to Poland's National Remembrance Institute, some 10,000-12,000 Ukrainians were murdered during Polish retaliatory operations by the spring of 1945.

There has been an ongoing dispute between Warsaw and Kiev since the spring of 2017, after Ukraine banned all exhumations carried out by Poland in Ukraine following the removal of a memorial to the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA) in Hruszowice, southeastern Poland.