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    BRAMA News and Community Press

    BRAMA, Oct 2, 2003, 9:00 am ET

    Basque Parliament approves resolution on Ukrainian Famine Genocide

    Ormaetxea Garai, Xabier (BIO)

    Vitoria-Gasteiz (Capital of the Basque Autonomous Community) — On October 1, 2003, as reported by Xabier Ormaetxea, Member of the Basque Parliament, the European affaires and overseas activities Comission of the Basque Parliament unanimously approved the declaration: "In memorial and condemn of the 70 anniversary of the Ukrainian genocidal famine 1932-33."

    "The Basque Parliament is the first Parliament in Europe to approve a resolution like this," said Mr. Ormaetxea, "but soon a very similar text will be discussed in the Spanish Parliament, and a shorter one in the European Parliament."

    Mr. Ormaetxea is Member of the Basque Parliament, Chairman of Foreign Affaires Commission, and President of Ekialde Foundation.

    Speech of Xabier Ormaetxea, in the Basque Parliament

    To many it will seem strange, and also unusual, that I have put forward this initiative. The Ukraine is a distant country, many people donґt know where to find it and, for the majority of people, the Ukrainians are just a type of Russian who declared their independence after the breaking up of the Soviet Block.

     ·  Resolution TEXT in Euskara/Spanish/English

     ·  Website: Eusko Legebiltzarra/ Parlamento Vasco/ Basque Parliament/ Parlement basque

     ·  En recuerdo y condena del 70 aniversario de la hambruna genocida de Ucrania 1932-33 (07\11\02\01\0271)

     ·  Ukrainako 1932-33ko gosete genozidaren 70. urteurrena gogoratu eta gaitzesteko

    We are used to talking about the north-south divide, and were concerned, with good reason, about the poverty in South America and Africa. We must continue to be concerned since, however much we do to help in this matter, it will never be enough. But we cannot continue ignoring the fact that, in our Europe, there are countries like the Ukraine, Moldova, Romania and the former Yugoslavia in which poverty still exists. That the wealthy Europe, of which we form part, also has its poor brothers.

    The European Union, in which we participate, was established, amongst other reasons, so that we would not forget the most tragic episodes of European History. These were the fratricidal wars, the exterminations, the that they would not be repeated again, and that the peoples who form this Europe, with its cultural diversity, could live in peace, economic prosperity and freedom.

    As tragic as our history is, we must never forget it, learn from those past atrocities, and build the type of foundation on which these events will never be allowed to happen again. That is the reason why we present this proposal today, because this year is the 70th Anniversary of a human tragedy that is almost unknown: the tragedy of millions of people who were condemned by a totalitarian regime to die of starvation, an attempt to destroy the national spirit of one European people, the Ukrainians, one of the peoples who have suffered most during the the Twentieth Century. Allow me please to outline the tragedy that we commemorate today:

    1921-1923 the first man-made famine in Ukraine in which 1,500,000 people died;

    1929-1930 the first phase of the collectivisation process, during which thousands of farm owners were deported to Siberia and replaced by Russian farm workers .

    1932-1933 the second phase of collectivisation process. The Stalin regime imposed on the Ukrainian countryside grain production quotas which were impossible to meet. Special confiscation squads requisitioned all the agricultural product.

    The Soviet army controlled the Ukrainian borders and those Ukrainian lands in the North Caucasus, and prevented the movement of people to neighbouring zones where there was food, and also stopped the import of food and grain into the zones devastated by famine. While this was happening, the Soviet Union exported grain to other countries and denied, with the collaboration of Western journalists, the existence of the famine, rejecting the offers of food from neighbouring countries;

    It is estimated (depending on the source) that between 4 and 10 million people died of starvation and illnesses caused by malnutrition, and also most of the country's cattle perished. The empty farms were occupied overwhelmingly by Russian farmers.

    James Duranty, correspondent of the New York Times in Moscow, suppported by other Western journalists, followed the official Kremlin line, and denied the existence of genocide. The few journalists who dared to visit the region, and report the catastrophe, were accused of lying and their careers suffered. Duranty received the Pulitzer prize in 1933 for his journalistic work.

    But, let's not think that the attack upon and destruction of the Ukrainian nation stopped there. In the succeeding years, most of the Ukrainian intelligensia were arrested and killed. Ukrainian writers like Kosynka, Burevy, Falkyvsky, Blyzko, Kruselnitsky etc., were condemned to death. Between 1936 and 1938 the infamous Stalinist purges caused mass terror in the Ukraine and resulted in the killing and deporting to hundreds of thousands of people.

    Nowadays the Ukraine is an independent country, with almost two-thirds of its territory des-ukrainizated, a country in need of reconstruction in all respects: cultural, national, political and also moral.

    Remember Ukrainian history is not just a whim, it is a need.

    The Ukrainians are a proud people, sometimes too proud to ask for outside help, perhaps because this help has been denied so many times or, perhaps, because too often the help offered was motivated by other interests.

    But Ukraine needs Europe, because Europe is the best guarantee that the Ukraine will be in future just what the Ukrainians want it to be. We cannot turn our back on them. We must extend to them the hand of friendship and solidarity and tell them that Europe, without the Ukraine, is not a complete Europe...... that the communal home of all Europeans will not be completed without them.

    Thank you very much.

    * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

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