Ukrainian, Polish presidents discuss Donbas, history

Andrzej Duda (r) and Volodymyr Zelensky during Ukrainian president visit to Poland in August. Wojciech Olkuśnik/PAP

The recent Normandy format summit on the Donbas conflict and historical issues dominated a Friday telephone conversation between Ukrainian and Polish Presidents Volodymyr Zelensky and Andrzej Duda, Duda's office head, Krzysztof Szczerski, informed PAP.

Szczerski said the conversation was initiated by the Ukrainian side and mainly revolved around the December 9 summit on the Donbas conflict by Normandy format countries France, Germany, Ukraine and Russia.

The summit, the first top-level Normandy format meeting since 2016, was hosted by French head of state Emmanuel Macron, and also attended by German Chancellor Angela Merkel. The Donbas conflict between Ukrainian state forces and pro-Russian separatists has been continuing since 2014, and has to date cost around 13,000 lives.

Recounting the conversation, Szczerski said Duda wanted to hear Zelensky's opinion on the December 9 summit, among others in connection with Poland's 2022-scheduled OSCE presidency. He added that the Ukrainian president thanked Duda for Poland's support of Ukraine's strivings for territorial integrity.

Szczerski said that Duda also voiced contentment over Ukraine's green light for exhumations of Polish soldiers buried on its territory. The exhumations, overseen by Poland's Institute of National Remembrance (IPN), were halted in 2017 in retaliation for the disassembly of a memorial to the World War II Ukrainian Insurgent Army in eastern Poland. Poland holds the force responsible for the 1943-45 Volhynia Massacre in then eastern Poland, in which around 100,000 Poles were killed.

During his August visit to Poland, the Ukrainian president said he was ready to permit the exhumations.

Szczerski also stated that Zelenski had renewed his invitation for Duda to visit Ukraine, and said the visit as highly probable in the first months of 2020.