The joint and parallel histories of Russia and Ukraine cannot be separated from one another and this inevitably reflects the relations between the two countries. The debates on the interpretations of history within and between the countries are often heated, which leads to misunderstanding and abuse of history. Finding the solution to history disputes is therefore indispensable in building the relations between the two countries and in finding a lasting peace.
History Dialogue between Russian and Ukrainian historians is an important step towards conflict resolution since different interpretations of history often prolong conflicts. Instead of letting history be misused, historians should try to contribute to conflict prevention and mutual understanding across borders. This requires that historians are able to communicate and discuss with each other, which is now seldom the case between Russian and Ukrainian historians.
This in mind, we organised the first meeting between Ukrainian and Russian historians in January 2017. The meeting took place at the Königstedt Manor in Vantaa, Finland. The participants consisted of two delegations and no information about the meeting was released beforehand. The meeting was made public only after both delegations had agreed to it. All participants agreed that the process should be continued.
The second history dialogue meeting took place in Helsinki in September 2017. The participant base was broadened and about 40 historians from Russia, Ukraine, Germany, and Finland were chosen to attend the two-day-seminar. Unlike the first one, this meeting focused on dialogue, not prepared presentations. Even though the participants had very different views on multiple issues, they agreed that the meetings themselves were valuable.