By Porter Anderson, Editor | @Porter_Anderson
G7: Putin is on the “wrong side of history”
AAs the world absorbs the news of Vladimir Putin’s pre-dawn invasion of Ukraine, Ursula von der Leyen, in her European Union statement, called it a “barbaric attack” and expressions revulsion, anger and dismay are coming from various parts of the industry and the international book publishing community. As we receive comments, we will add them to this article.
Publication prospects reached out to Ukrainian Book Institute and we hope to hear from staff, with safety and security issues coming first. the Ukrainian Association of Publishers and Booksellers is a member organization of the International Publishers Association (IPA) based in Geneva.
Shortly before this story was last updated, CNN’s Matthew Chance and his ground crew, 20 miles from the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv, encountered what they assumed were Ukrainian fighters. They are Russian fighters, taking over an airstrip. “This shows us for the first time,” reports Chance, “how close Russian forces have come to the center of #Kiev. Ukrainians now fear that the plan is to take the capital, decapitate Ukraine’s leadership and replace that leadership with a pro-Russian government.
Most international news services, like CNN, broadcast live updates, as G7 leaders say Putin ‘got on the wrong side of history’ by ‘bringing war back to the European continent’. A live static camera feed from Kyiv’s Independence Square is available from Agence France-Presse here.
Federation of European Publishers: “A fragile rampart”
Coming from the headquarters in Brussels of the Federation of European Publishersa new statement calls the unprovoked assault by Putin’s forces on Ukraine “a threat not only to Europe but also to the whole world, to quote the words of Roberta Metsola, President of the European Parliament”.
“Our hearts go out to the people of Ukraine and the region,” the federation wrote in its message to the media, “and in particular to our colleagues; authors, translators, publishers, booksellers and librarians.
“Keep writing, translating, publishing and providing access to books. Even if they are a fragile rampart against bombs, books and reading are essential to democracy.
“Ukraine is a free country in a free Europe and has the right to peace and democracy, the security of its citizens and territorial integrity.
“We are very lucky that this year Ukraine is one of the participating countries in the European Union Prize for Literature (EUPL). Ukraine is part of creative Europe, part of our common European family, and we believe that literature brings a message of peace and enables all European citizens to be “united in diversity”.
Council of European Writers: “A war against all democracies”
Issued from Council of European Writers– which represents some 160,000 professional writers and translators in the book and text sectors – a statement received this morning calls the Russian attack on Ukraine “a war against all democracies, our values, our convictions of peace, freedom and human rights”.
Arno Jundze in Riga, president of the Union of Latvian Writers, says: “The bloodshed must be stopped. The people of Ukraine and our fellow writers must be supported in this difficult time. What is happening in Ukraine is a threat to democracy throughout Europe. If the war in Ukraine is not stopped, it will be a sign that the aggressor can do whatever he wants in all of Eastern Europe.
Birutė Jonuškaitė Augustinienė, President of the Lithuanian Writers’ Union, joined the statement saying: “The Lithuanian Writers’ Union stands with Ukraine and our Ukrainian colleagues, our common community of writers and translators. We condemn the illegal and unjustifiable Russian invasion of Ukrainian territory. We support Ukraine and will do all we can to help it in difficult circumstances.
Tiit Aleksejev, president of the Estonian Writers’ Union, points to a sickening irony for the Balts, saying: “February 24 is Estonian Independence Day. On the same day, Ukrainians began to defend their independence against the large-scale attack of the aggressor.
And Nina George, chair of the council, directs her comment to Brussels saying: “The Council of European Writers and its 46 member organizations from 30 countries stand alongside their fellow writers from Ukraine. We call on EU Member States to intervene firmly in the ongoing violence in Ukraine.
“We call on culture ministers from all EU member states to support the people of Ukraine, our fellow writers, in these difficult and life-threatening times of war.”
The selection of those who speak in the writers’ council statement has to do with the unfolding architecture of the Russian onslaught.
“The Baltic States,” writes the Council, “see the presence of Russian troops in Belarus as a threat, especially because of the so-called “Suwalki Gap”. This term refers to the 100 kilometer border area between Poland and Lithuania, bordered by Kaliningrad and Belarus. Because it is the only land connection between the three Baltic states and other NATO members, there are fears that Russia may not be able to bridge the gap, thus isolating the Baltic from the rest of the NATO area.
“This could allow for a quick capture of the Baltic. Lithuania, which borders Kaliningrad on the Baltic Sea, has declared a state of emergency.
Börsenverein, Germany: “Ukraine has the right to peace”
the Börsenverein des Deutschen BuchhandelsGerman Publishers’ and Booksellers’ Association, has issued this joint appeal which is being launched for the Börsenverein, the German Book Trade Peace Prize, Frankfurter Buchmesse, MVB and Mediacampus Frankfurt:
“The board of directors of the German Bookshop Peace Prize and its founder, the Börsenverein, are outraged by Russia’s brutal attack on Ukraine.
“We call on the Russian people and their president to put an end to the deliberate destruction of peace and freedom in Europe.
“And we send words of cohesion to the Ukrainian people: they are part of an international community that protects human dignity, democratic participation and equality for all. You have the right to peace.
On behalf of the Börsenverein, the Council of the Peace Prize Foundation decides each year on the awarding of the honor to personalities who “have made an outstanding contribution to the realization of the idea of peace, primarily through their work in the fields of literature, science and art.
Winners include Tsitsi Dangarembga (2021), Amartya Sen (2020), Sebastião Salgado (2019), Aleida and Jan Assmann (2018), and previous years Svetlana Alexievich (2013), Václav Havel (1989) and Lev Kopelev (1981) .
The board members are Klaus Brink Bäumer, Peter Dabrock, Raphael Gross, Moritz Helmstaedter, Nadja Kneissler, Felicitas von Lovenberg, Ethel Matala de Mazza, Bascha Mika and Karin Schmidt-Friderichs at the head of the Börsenverein.
AIE, Italy: ‘The Critical Voice of Intellectuals’
The Association of Italian Publishers (Association Italiana EditoriAIE) was the first to post a comment, with AIE President Ricardo Franco Levi instructing his offices to convey this message to the international press:
“The Association of Italian Publishers is close to the Ukrainian people on the day of the invasion by the Russian armed forces.
“The war in Europe takes us back to years and historical events that we never wanted to relive.
“Peace is the prerequisite and at the same time the fruit of freedom of thought and expression, values that are at the heart of democracy and the mission of every publisher.
“Our thoughts go out to the Ukrainians, in particular to our fellow publishers and to everyone involved in culture, who are committed to keeping the conscience of a people alive today under the bombs.
“Today more than ever, we hope that in each nation the critical voice of intellectuals, writers, men of peace and the world of culture will be raised, so that they can put Europe back on the path to freedom and coexistence.”
In its update coverage, The Republic in Rome—Rosa Femia, Piera Matteucci, Anna Lombardi updating—quotes Mario Draghi’s statement: “The Italian government condemns Russia’s attack on Ukraine. It is unjustified and unjustifiable. Italy is close to the Ukrainian people and institutions at this dramatic moment. We are working with European and NATO allies to respond immediately with unity and determination.
*Remember that, especially in the coverage of military conflicts, reporting and statistics can change drastically, as reporters from many disparate news outlets struggle to learn and confirm facts on the ground. It is a deeply fluid information environment.
More information about Publishing Perspectives on the Ukrainian market is here, more on the Italian market and the work of the IEA is here, and more on the German market and the Börsenverein is here. To learn more about freedom to publish and freedom of expression, click here. To find out more about the Federation of European Publishers, click here, and about the Council of European Writers, click here here.
Publishing Perspectives is the global media partner of International Association of Publishers.
To learn more about the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic and its impact on international book publishing, click here.