Concerning the recent editorial by Taras Kuzio (Canadian academic experts on Ukraine and NATO, ePOSHTA Oct.18) suggesting that I am an opponent of Ukraine joining the NATO alliance:
The role of an academic is to report and analyze what one reads and sees, not to be an advocate of a particular position or personality. Once an academic begins to take sides or support particular courses of action, then he/she is no longer an academic. All I did was describe what opinion polls show, namely that Ukrainians overall are opposed to NATO. I don't personally care one way or the other whether they are or not but I respect their position. If they were in favor of Ukraine joining NATO, I would have reported that too. Of course there is no such thing as complete objectivity, but it is always something to aim for. Liberal MP Borys Wrzesnewskyj, on the other hand, is in a completely different position and pursues what he sees as the best interests of Ukraine. I have no problem with that and we are not in conflict in any way.
As for hiding away in the ivory towers of academia, in 2008-09 alone, I have given more than 30 public talks outside the university, including many to schools and at events held by the Ukrainian community. I was awarded a Shevchenko Gold medal for my work with the latter. Interestingly no one in the Ukrainian community ever suggested I take a particular line or position on any subject. I have also travelled in Ukraine from the Carpathians to the Donbas, and Chornobyl to Crimea. I am a great fan of the country and its people. But I would never be so presumptuous as to tell them what they should be thinking or how they should be voting.
David R. Marples
Distinguished University Professor and Director
Stasiuk Program for the Study of Contemporary Ukraine
Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies
University of Alberta, Edmonton