Gaps and Overlaps. Navigating through Contested German-Russian-Ukrainian Narratives
This report is the result of a German-Russian-Ukrainian1 dialogue project which was designed and implemented by inmedio peace consult gGmbH (Berlin), the Institute for Law and Public Policy, ILPP (Moscow) and the Centre of Public Initiatives - Ideas for Change (Kyiv). Using the Mediative Dialogue Approach developed by inmedio peace consult, 18 experts from academia, think tanks and NGOs as well as journalists and dialogue practitioners met in Berlin in November 2019. They analysed and reflected on German, Russian and Ukrainian narratives on what went wrong since the end of the Cold War regarding the deterioration of relations between the respective countries. The discussed narratives often reflect deeply held beliefs, which have their basis in individual and collective experience; at the same time they may have served to shape those beliefs as a result of state-led efforts aimed at manipulating public opinion. Understanding2 how a narrative unfolded does not necessarily mean agreeing with it. However, the attempt to understand helps to prepare the ground for effective negotiations searching for ways out of the current crisis.Using a timeline of historical and recent events as a starting point, our group agreed in an inter - active process
to focus on the following five topics which it considered most relevant for fostering an in-depth understanding of the narratives regarding Ukrainian-Russian-Western relations: Holodomor/the Great Famine of the 1930s and its impact on the idea of Ukrainian independence; 1991 – different perceptions on the dissolution of the Soviet Union and Ukrainian independence; attempts and failures of cooperation with NATO; and competing narratives on Euromaidan,
Crimea and Donbas.
This consensus paper shows the results of the respective group discussions reconstructing the narratives on those topics. The aim is certainly not to agree on one narrative. Rather, the aim is to help the societies concerned to better understand the differences between the existing narratives.
This approach follows a rather long-term strategy. It does not provide a quick solution and is not meant to replace crisis management and the addressing of immediate problems. Instead, an in-depth understanding of the narratives can pave the way for more effective communication on possible sustainable solutions, which sooner or later must be found.
The project was funded by the German Federal Foreign Office under the programme “Expanding.
Cooperation with Civil Society in the Eastern Partnership Countries and Russia”. It builds on a preceding German-Russian dialogue project conducted in 20183 as well as on previous dialogue efforts including involving Ukrainian and Russian NGOs.4
This report is available for download in English, Russian and Ukrainian under www.contestednarratives-