Germans need to know that 'Ukraine exists' – ambassador
Ukraine isn't considered a great cultural nation by other countries in Europe, and therefore its interests continue to be ignored, Kiev’s ambassador in Berlin has bemoaned.
In a Tuesday interview with Ukrainian state news agency Ukrinform, Andrey Melnik claimed his nation’s biggest problem is that it has little cultural status on the world stage.
“I think that our main shortcoming over the past 30 years is that we still haven’t managed to assert ourselves as a great cultural European nation, an influential historical subject,” the ambassador explained. “And this is what our political recognition depends on, to a large degree.”
He went on to illustrate what he meant, saying that “masterpieces by Ukrainian composers” are not performed regularly in German opera halls, and schoolkids there are not taught Ukrainian literature. All of Kiev’s “reasonable political requests” will continue to be ignored while this is the case, Melnik claimed.
The diplomat emphasized that he and other representatives from Kiev continue to work to attract the attention of European leaders, asserting that German elites, journalists, and experts need to “know that Ukraine exists, with its own goals, resolutely forging its own path.”
Melnik has been known in the past for fiery rhetoric, including making demands that Berlin return Crimea, controlled by Russia, to Ukraine, and saying that Germany has a “historical responsibility” to allow Ukraine into NATO, the US-led military bloc. In the interview, he admitted that his actions don’t always make him friends in Berlin, and said that German leaders have told him off multiple times for his controversial statements. However, he maintained that Ukraine must treat its activity in Berlin as “war diplomacy.”
In November, Melnik published an open letter demanding that Germany create a fund to pay back Ukraine for the loss of priceless cultural heritage in World War 2, when large parts of the country – then a Soviet Republic – were occupied by Nazi forces. He argued that Kiev is still owed compensation “for the enormous losses in cultural heritage during the Nazi occupation, as well as from the point of view of supporting [Ukraine] on its path to membership in the EU.”
Melnik’s comments come as German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock met with her Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov in Moscow on Tuesday, to discuss issues including tensions surrounding Ukraine. She met with leaders in Kiev on Monday.