The International Publishers Association (IPA) has joined other book industry bodies around the world in condemning Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The president of the IPA, Bodour Al Qasimi, said: “The IPA stands in solidarity with publishers in peril all around the world and, especially at this moment, with our member in Ukraine, the Ukrainian Publishers and Booksellers Association [UPBA]. We are following developments and discussing how IPA can be of most assistance to our member. In times of peace, books have a powerful uniting force. In times of conflict, books are even more important in fostering hope, supporting reconciliation, and cementing peace.”
Following the invasion, Oleksandr Afonin, president of the UPBA, wrote an open letter to the Secretary General of the IPA, José Borghino, expressing hope “for the solidarity of the world publishing community with the people of our country”. He continued: “We ask the members of our international association – professionals in publishing – to find ways and tools to condemn Russia’s aggression against Ukraine and support Ukrainian people in this difficult time in the fight against the World aggressor.”
In a heartfelt letter, Borghino writes: “I am deeply saddened by what has happened in Ukraine and I pray that you, your family, your friends and all our publishing colleagues from the Ukrainian Publishers and Booksellers Association have been able to find relative safety. I have been in touch with your son, Andrew, who tells me that you and your wife are safe for the moment but that food is becoming scarce and that you sleep in air-raid shelters most nights.
“In responding to you, I am relaying your call for support to all of IPA’s members, and I know that there are many already looking to find ways to support you.
“We condemn this criminal Russian invasion in the strongest possible terms. The IPA was founded with the intention of supporting peace. Our first President, Georges Masson, stated at our inaugural Congress in 1896 that ‘the first International Publishers Congress … is one of many gatherings whose purpose is to multiply peaceful relations between nations, in encouraging the visible tendency of peoples to join more and more through a community of interests’. Nothing in the intervening 125 years has changed that stance.”
Among those that have condemned Russia’s actions are PEN International, the Federation of European Publishers, the European Writers Council, the Italian Publishers Association, and the major publishing agencies and associations in Germany. Salman Rushdie, Margaret Atwood, and Tsitsi Dangarembga are just few writers who were joined by more than 1,000 writers from around the world who have condemned Russia’s action and expressed their solidarity with the Ukrainian people.
PEN International said: “We utterly condemns the violence unleashed by Russian forces onto Ukraine, and urgently call for an end of the military aggression of a sovereign, independent state. The bloodshed must stop now. We stand with Ukraine, our friends at PEN Ukraine, and call on President Putin to stop this war immediately. Peace must prevail.”
The Börsenverein Group, which organises Germany’s Peace Prize and the Frankfurt Book Fair, said it was “outraged by Russia’s brutal attack on Ukraine”. It added: “We appeal to the Russian people and their president to stop the wilful 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.”
The Federation of European Publishers posted a statement on its website which reads: “This attack is a threat not just to Europe but also to the entire world, to quote the European Parliament’s President’s words, Roberta Metsola.
“Our thoughts are with the people of Ukraine and of the region, 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 of 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”.
The Italian Publishers Association said: “The war in Europe takes us back to years and historical events that we never wanted to relive. 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.”