International Book Business: Solidarity With Ukraine

In Feature Articles by Porter Anderson

The European Writers’ Council issues its statement in Russian. Signatories join from Spain, Croatia, Ireland, Poland, Sweden, more.

In Kyiv’s Maidan Nezalezhnosti, Indepedence Square. Image-Getty iStockphoto: Petro Belskyi

By Porter Anderson, Editor-in-Chief | @Porter_Anderson

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NATO Activates Its ‘Response Force’
Update February 25: As the world follows incremental news report of Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, NATO secretary-general Jens Stoltenberg has said Friday (February 25) that the alliance is deploying parts of its combat-ready response force and will  continue to send weapons to Ukraine, including air defenses, while saying that Russia is trying to topple the Ukrainian government,” per Reuters Brussels. “‘We see rhetoric, the messages, which is strongly indicating that the aim is to remove the democratically elected government in Kyiv,’ Stoltenberg has told a news conference following a digital meeting of NATO leaders.”

In addition on Friday, early confirmation from CNN’s Barbara Starr and Jeremy Herb that for the first time, NATO has activated what’s known as its Response Force. NATO’s supreme allied commander Tod Wolters is quoted in a statement, saying, “This is an historic moment and the very first time the alliance has employed these high readiness forces in a deterrence and defense role. They represent a flexible, combat credible force that can be employed in multiple ways and we are utilizing fully their inherent agility. These deterrence measures are prudent and enhance our speed, responsiveness and capability to shield and protect the one billion citizens we swore to protect.”

Ukraine Book Institute

Publishing Perspectives has reached out to the Ukraine Book Institute and we hope to hear back from the staff, safety and security issues coming first. The Ukraine Publishers and Booksellers Association is a member-organization of the International Publishers Association (IPA) based in Geneva.

In response to our inquiry, London Book Fair (April 5 to 7) director Andy Ventris says, “The situation may of course change, but as matters currently stand, per our exhibitor directory, which is publicly available on the LBF show site, the Ukraine Book Institute is confirmed to attend London Book Fair 2022.”

PEN America has announced a candlelight vigil for Ukraine in New York City on Monday night (February 28) at the conclusion of its literary awards program. The event is expected to be led by Laurie Anderson, Jennifer Egan, and Gary Shteyngart.

Shortly before the latest update to this story, NATO member Poland’s minister of defense Mariusz Błaszczak has tweeted that a convoy of ammunition has reached Ukrainians. CNN’s reporting indicates that this is the first publicly acknowledged shipment of military aid to Ukraine since the Russian invasion began.

Federation of European Publishers: ‘A Fragile Rampart’

Arriving from the headquarters in Brussels of the Federation of European Publishers, a new statement calls the unprovoked assault by Putin’s forces on Ukraine “a threat not just to Europe but also to the entire world, to quote the words of Roberta Metsola, president of the European Parliament.”

“Our thoughts are with the people of Ukraine and of the region,” the federation writes in its messaging to the news media, “and especially with our colleagues; authors, translators, publishers, booksellers, and librarians.

“Keep writing, translating, publishing, and giving access to books. Even if they are a fragile rampart against the 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, for its citizens to live in safety, and to territorial integrity.

“We are very fortunate that this year, Ukraine is one of the participating countries in the European Union Prize for Literature (EUPL). Ukraine is part of Creative Europe, of our common European family, and we believe that literature brings a message of peace and allows all European citizens to be ‘united in diversity.'”

European Writers’ Council: ‘A War Against All Democracies’

In the Shevchenkivskyi District of Kyiv, a photo made at dawn on October 19, 2018. Image – Getty iStockhoto: Asergieiev

Update February 25: The European Writers’ Council has had its initial statement of support for Ukraine and its writers (“We condemn Putin’s crimes against democracy and humanity”) translated into Russian, and has provided a link to us: Мы осуждаем преступления Путина против демократии и человечности . The statement is also available in German here, from our colleagues at the Börsenblatt.

In addition, the council now is adding leadership signatories to its statement from its broad international membership. Here are those signatories currently placing their names on the statement at the time of this update:

  • Jitka Bret Srbová, Chair, The  Czech Writers’ Association, Czech Republic
  • Jacek Dehnel, Chair, Unia Literacka, Literary Union, Poland
  • Kevin Doyle, Chairperson, The Irish Writers’ Union, Republic of Ireland
  • Lena Falkenhagen, Chair Woman, Verband deutscher Schriftstellerinnen und Schriftsteller / German Writers’ Association, Germany
  • Zoran Ferić, President, The Croatian Writers’ Society, Croatia
  • Anne Sofie Hammer, Vice Chair, The Danish Authors’ Society
  • Eystein Hanssen, Chair, Norwegian Society of Authors – Forfatterforbundet, Norway
  • Christophe Hardy, Président, La Société des Gens de Lettres, France
  • Joanne Harris, Chair of the Management Committee, The Society of Authors, United Kingdom
  • Sirpa Kähkönen, President, Finnish Writers Union, Finland
  • Per Kornhall, Chair, The Swedish Association of  Educational Writers, Sweden
  • Jens J. Kramer, Chair, The German Language Crime Writers – Syndikat, Germany-Austria-Switzerland
  • Zlatko Krilić, President, The Croatian Writers’ Organisation, Croatia
  • Heidi Marie Kriznik, President, The Norwegian Authors’ Union, Norway
  • Manuel Rico Rego, President, Spanisch Writers’ Association – Asociación Colegial de Escritores de España, Spain
  • Grethe Rottböll, President, Sveriges Författarförbund, The Swedish Writers’ Union, Sweden
  • Maria Vlaar, Chair, Auteursbond / The Dutch Authors’ Association, The Netherlands
  • Shaun Whiteside, President, CEATL – European Federation of Literary Translators’ Organisations, with an accompanying statement: “CEATL, the European Council of Literary Translators’ Associations, deplores the invasion of Ukraine and stands fully behind the Ukrainian people. We join the EWC in expressing solidarity with our fellow-translators and writers at this terrible time.”

Issued from the European Writers’ Council—which represents some 160,000 professional writers and translators in the book and text sectors—a statement just 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, chair of the Latvian Writers’ Union, says, “The bloodshed must be stopped. The people of Ukraine and our fellow writers must be supported at 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 throughout Eastern Europe.”

Birutė Jonuškaitė Augustinienė, chair of the Lithuanian Writers Union, has joined the statement, saying, “The Lithuanian Writers Union stands with Ukraine and with our Ukrainian colleagues—our shared community of writers and translators. We condemn the illegal and unjustifiable Russian invasion of Ukrainian territory. We support Ukraine and will do what we can to help in difficult circumstances.”

Tiit Aleksejev, chair of the Estonian Writers’ Union, points up a queasy irony for the Baltics, saying, February 24 is Estonian Independence day. On the very same day Ukrainians started to defend their independence against the full-scale attack of the aggressor.”

And Nina George, president of the council, directs her commentary to Brussels, saying, “The European Writers’ Council and its 46 member organizations from 30 countries stand with their fellow writers from Ukraine. We request that the EU member-states intervene strongly in the ongoing violence in Ukraine.

“We appeal to the ministers of culture of all EU member-states to support the Ukrainian people, our fellow writers in these difficult and life-threatening war times.”

The selection of those speaking in the writers’ council statement has to do with the unfolding architecture of the Russian assault.

“The Baltic states,” the council writes, “see the presence of Russian troops in Belarus as a threat, above all because of the so-called ‘Suwalki Gap.’ This term refers to the 100-kilometer border area between Poland and Lithuania, framed by Kaliningrad and Belarus. Because it’s the only land connection between the three Baltic states and the other NATO members, it’s feared that Russia could capture the gap, thus isolating the Baltics from the rest of the NATO area.

“This could allow for a rapid capture of the Baltics. Lithuania, which has borders with Kaliningrad on the Baltic Sea, has declared a state of emergency.”

Börsenverein, Germany: ‘Ukraine Has a Right to Peace’

In Kyiv, Pechersk Lavra, the ‘Monastery of the Caves’ near the river. Image – Getty iStockphoto: Ruslan Lytvyn

The Börsenverein des Deutschen Buchhandels, Germany’s publishers and booksellers association, has issued this joint appeal which is offered for the Börsenverein, the Peace Prize of the German Book Trade, Frankfurter Buchmesse, MVB, and Mediacampus Frankfurt:

“The board of trustees of the Peace Prize of the German Book Trade and its founder, the Börsenverein, are outraged by Russia’s brutal attack on Ukraine.

“We appeal to the Russian people and their president to stop the willful destruction of peace and freedom in Europe.

“And we send words of cohesion to the people of Ukraine: They are part of an international community that protects human dignity, democratic participation, and the equality of all. You have a right to peace.”

On behalf of the Börsenverein, the Peace Prize Foundation Council decides annually 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 in previous years Svetlana Alexievich (2013), Václav Havel (1989) and Lev Kopelev (1981).

Members of the Board of Trustees 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 as head of the Börsenverein.

AIE, Italy: ‘The Critical Voice of Intellectuals’

At the Kyiv funicular. Image – Getty iStockphoto: Petro Belski

The Association of Italian Publishers (Associazione Italiana Editori, AIE) has been the first to issue a commentary, AIE president Ricardo Franco Levi directing his offices to give this message to the international press:

“The Italian Publishers Association 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.

Ricardo Franco Levi l

“Peace is the precondition 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 editor.

“Our thoughts go to Ukrainian men and women, in particular to our fellow publishers and to the whole world of culture, committed to keeping alive the conscience of a people today under bombs.

“Today more than ever, we hope that in every nation the critical voice of intellectuals, writers, men of peace and the world of culture will rise, so that they can bring Europe back onto the path of freedom and coexistence.”

In its updating coverage, La Repubblica 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 in this dramatic moment. We are working with European and NATO allies to respond immediately with unity and determination.”

*Please remember that particularly in military conflict coverage, reports and statistics may change dramatically as journalists in many disparate news organizations work to learn and confirm facts on the ground. This is a deeply fluid news environment.

The monument Rodina-mat seen over the Dnieper River in Kyiv. Image – Getty iStockphoto: Dmytro Perov

Catch up with all our coverage of Vladimir Putin’s war on Ukraine and its impact on the country’s publishing players and international industry reactions. More on the Italian market and the work of AIE is here, and more on the German market and the Börsenverein is here. More on the freedom to publish and the freedom of expression is here. More on the Federation of European Publishers is here, and more on the European Writers’ Council is here.

Publishing Perspectives is the world media partner of the International Publishers Association.

More from us on the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on international book publishing is here.

About the Author

Porter Anderson

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Porter Anderson has been named International Trade Press Journalist of the Year in London Book Fair's International Excellence Awards. He is Editor-in-Chief of Publishing Perspectives. He formerly was Associate Editor for The FutureBook at London's The Bookseller. Anderson was for more than a decade a senior producer and anchor with, CNN International, and CNN USA. As an arts critic (Fellow, National Critics Institute), he was with The Village Voice, the Dallas Times Herald, and the Tampa Tribune, now the Tampa Bay Times. He co-founded The Hot Sheet, a newsletter for authors, which now is owned and operated by Jane Friedman.