On Sunday, July 9, 2023, the presidents of Ukraine and Poland, Volodymyr Zelensky and Andrzej Duda, attended a church service in the city of Lviv in western Ukraine.
The service was held at the St. George’s Cathedral, the main Greek Catholic church in the region and a symbol of Ukrainian national identity.
The visit of the two leaders was part of a series of events to mark the 80th anniversary of the massacre of Volhynia and Eastern Galicia, a tragic episode of World War II when tens of thousands of Poles and Ukrainians were killed by nationalist paramilitary groups on both sides. The presidents laid flowers at the memorial to the victims and paid tribute to their memory.
The church service and the commemoration ceremony were also aimed at strengthening the bilateral relations between Ukraine and Poland, which have been strained in recent years by historical disputes and geopolitical issues.
Both Zelensky and Duda expressed their commitment to dialogue and cooperation, as well as their support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity in the face of Russian aggression.
The visit of the Polish president to Ukraine was welcomed by many Ukrainians, especially in the western part of the country, where Poland is seen as a close ally and a model of democratic development.
The two countries share a common history, culture and religion, as well as a strategic partnership within the European Union and NATO.
The church service in Lviv was also an opportunity for Zelensky to demonstrate his respect for the religious diversity and pluralism of Ukraine, which is home to various Christian denominations, as well as Jews, Muslims and other faiths. Zelensky, who is Jewish, has been praised for his efforts to promote interfaith dialogue and tolerance in the country.
The presidents of Ukraine and Poland showed that they are ready to overcome the past and look to the future, based on mutual understanding and solidarity.
Their joint attendance at the church service in Lviv was a sign of hope and reconciliation for both nations.