Test for Resistance or Picture of the Époque in the Interior

  • Post category:Issue XIX

Oleksandr Bozhko
Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Ukraine

DOI https://doi.org/10.37837/2707-7683-2018-57

Abstract. Memories of the prominent Ukrainian diplomat, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Ukraine Volodymyr Khandohii titled “Diplomatic Chapters: True Stories of Career Diplomat” may be significantly distinguished among the other books of this popular genre due to its sharpened polemics. All in all, it is quite logical. Having been voted out of the office of the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to the United Kingdom in summer 2014, he decided to resign since he had not received any proposals from the Minister. It was when it seemed that he had plenty of time and energy to work. In fact, this book is not about the critical attitude towards the mistakes of the young “reformers team” that came to power in Ukraine on the roar of the revolutionary wave. It is about a difficult but important Soviet period of “phantom diplomacy”, which became a solid brick in the foundation of Ukrainian statehood. Speaking about the diplomat, the author uses interesting associations, unexpected retrospectives, and parallels with modern times. He does not omit the evaluation of important failures, including one that have been made in personnel assignments, namely concerning “Ukrainian leaders with prefix “acting”, who made dramatically significant decisions in spring 2014.The motive of institutional memory preservation is constantly evolving in the book. The author is more than convinced that this issue is relevant for the current Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine. It should be noted that Volodymyr Khandohii is one of those few domestic diplomats who has not missed any career stage, starting from the position of the “fairy” attaché (as one of the veterans of the Ukrainian diplomatic service noted) of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Ukrainian SSR in far 1976, and to the Acting Minister for Foreign Affairs of Ukraine in near 2009.While turning pages of this solid work (which is almost 600 pages of folio format) sometimes you may find yourself thinking that you are reading the history of the entire Ukrainian foreign-policy establishment that, despite certain ornamentality of the Soviet period, played a significant role in the establishment of independent Ukraine and protection and advocacy of its national interests in the world in modern times, rather than the biography of an individual.
In other words owing to the memories of Volodymyr Khandohii, a reader has a unique opportunity to look behind the scenes where the history has been created and is still being created. It is likely that not everyone will agree with some of his points concerning the activities of individuals or their roles in Ukrainian diplomacy. In particular, as for me, the author could be more critical, while mentioning certain personalities, especially acquaintances from joint work in the Soviet Foreign Ministry. On the other hand, such subjectivism is quite natural, taking into account the personal character of memoirs as a genre. In the end, V. Khandohii emphasizes that his book is “a sketch of epoch portrait in the interior of author’s own assessments and associations”. Let me add – the epoch that tests our independent state and our people, including Ukrainian diplomats, for resistance.
Keywords: Volodymyr Khandohii, “phantom diplomacy”, memoirs, history, Ukrainian foreign policy.

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1. Khandohii, V. (2017). Dyplomatychi siuzhety: nevyhadani istorii kariernoho dyplomata. Kyiv: Samit-Knyha.