Prof. Argentieri on Ukraine-Russia Conflict at Italian Parliament

On Wednesday, May 25, 2016 President of the Foreign and EU Affairs Committee Fabrizio Cicchitto invited JCU Professor Federigo Argentieri, Director of the Guarini Institute for Public Affairs, to the conference “Riflessioni sull’Ucraina” (“Reflections on Ukraine”) on the Ukraine-Russia conflict in Palazzo Montecitorio, Rome. Among other spokesmen were Professor Vittorio Strada, from University of Venice “Ca’ Foscari”, and Professor Ettore Cinnella, from the University of Pisa.

Hanna Hopko, head of the Ukrainian Parliamentary Foreign Affairs Committee, began by reminding all the participants of the ongoing military occupation of Crimea and the eastern areas of Donetsk and Luhansk by Russian forces. Hopko appealed the international community to support the interested territories. Yevhen Perelygin, Ukraine’s ambassador to Italy, endorsed her plea.

Professors Strada and Cinnella focused on Ukraine’s past and cultural identity, pointing out the country’s history of oppression at the hand of Russia. Professor Strada discussed the historical relations regarding the Ukraine-Russia conflict, emphasizing Russia’s failure to understand the cultural and social identity of the Ukrainians. Strada then invited the EU to take on a more active role as mediator.

Professor Cinnella offered his outlook on the 1932-33 Ukrainian famine, the so-called Holodomor. Cinnella’s theory is that the Holodomor was an “organized artificial famine,” through which the Bolsheviks attempted to exterminate Ukrainian farmers. Although the famine never drew strong international interest, he postulated, it might be considered a national genocide.

Professor Argentieri remarked how Russia’s policy towards Ukraine has been contradictory and counterproductive. Russia defined its armed intervention in Crimea during the Ukrainian secession process as an attempt to protect the “Russian” pro-secession citizens. Russia aimed at preventing Ukraine from joining the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), which proved to be an unjustified concern, since Ukraine was interested in entering the EU. Russia, Argentieri concluded, should abandon its imperial policy and recognize Ukraine as an autonomous state.