Yushchenko opened festival in Poland

09:15, 23 July 2007
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25th festival Lemkiwska Watra (Lemko Bonfire) opened in the Polish city of Gdynia

President Victor Yushchenko and First Lady Kateryna Yushchenko on Saturday attended a ceremony to open the 25th festival Lemkiwska Watra (Lemko Bonfire) in the Polish city of Gdynia, according to the President`s press-office. 

“I am very happy to be firing this twenty-fifth bonfire together with you,” he said in a speech to the Lemkos from Poland, Ukraine, Croatia, Serbia, Canada, the United States of America and many other countries.

Yushchenko praised Ukraine’s partnership with Poland, saying both countries “restore historical justice, remembering the victims of the Communist terror.”

“Today we are honoring the victims of many severe challenges. One of them is Operation Wisla,” he said. “In our joint statement with President Lech Kaczynski of Poland, Operation Wisla has been condemned as totalitarian crime for the first time.”

Yushchenko’s speech also focused on developments in Ukraine. He described early parliamentary elections on September 30 as an “important step to build a modern European state.”

The president called the Ukrainian diaspora for unity, assuring the Ukrainians living abroad his government will spare no effort to protect their cultural, educational and national rights and needs. Then he honored several Lemko leaders with state awards.

Yushchenko also attended a ceremony to consecrate the Bells of Peace to mark the 60th anniversary of Operation Wisla and pray for its victims.

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