In Razmyshleniia Mazeppy (Mazepa’s Reflections) Mykola Hohol (Gogol) writes: “There was a state that had always enjoyed great respect among the Cossacks and which, even though it did not border on Little Russia and was located far to the north, ended at the point where Russia began and could be very useful for the Little Russians.”

Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden and Queen Silvia are on a state visit to Ukraine. Together with President Viktor Yushchenko and first lady Kateryna Yushchenko the royal couple attended the exhibit “Ukraine and Sweden: At the Crossroads of History,” which opened at the National Museum of History in Kyiv on Oct. 1, 2008. Featuring rare items from state and private collections from both countries, the exhibit focuses on the most dramatic period of Ukraine’s history – the events of the 17th-18th centuries in which Sweden played a significant role and could have played an even greater one.

Experts believe that the public should have a better understanding of Ukrainian-Swedish history. One of the key parts of the exhibit is devoted to the anniversaries of the treaties that were signed by Ukraine and Sweden. In October 2007 we marked the 350th anniversary of the Korsun Treaty and the 300th anniversary of the Treaty signed at Velyki Budyshcha on March 28, 1709, which historians call the point of departure for the alliance between Ukraine and Sweden.

“Contacts between Ukraine and Sweden are expanding not only in politics and economy but also in culture,” said Carl XVI Gustaf. “Therefore, just like Ukrainians, we are interested in taking a look at our shared history and assessing events that took place hundreds of years ago. Many objects in our museums are linked to Ukraine’s history, so this kind of cultural-historical exchange is very important for both our nations, as it offers us a unique opportunity to reconsider the past and never forget it. We therefore hope that when Ukraine marks the 300th anniversary of the Battle of Poltava, our nations will once again recall the pages of our shared history.”

A total of 100 items are on display in Kyiv, including 47 that were loaned by six Swedish museums and three private collectors. The Ukrainian part of the exhibit is composed of items from the collections of 13 leading museums, historical archives, libraries, and private collections.

The precious memorabilia are divided into five themed sections. Yurii Savchuk, the curator of the exhibit, says that the first four sections recount the history of Tatar-Swedish and Ukrainian-Swe dish relations. One of them, “The Baltic-Black Sea Axis: The Kingdom of Sweden and the Crimean Khanate,” presents maps and charts depicting state borders, invasion plans, and other information.

One of the most interesting parts of the exhibit features Cos sack antiquities from Swedish museums. Because of the wars and devastation that Ukraine experienced in the last centuries, many rarities dating to the Cossack period were irretrievably lost. Those that have been preserved are stored in Swedish museums and archives.

Historians call the exhibits from Sweden “the Swedish treasure trove of Ukrainian antiquities.” This is probably the only chance for Ukrainians to see Cossack insignia, such as maces and banners, the letters of hetmans Boh dan Khmel nytsky, Ivan Vy hov sky, Ivan Mazepa, and Pylyp Orlyk, and maps and engravings, all of which were loaned by the Swedes.

Some of the exhibits reflect Ukrainian-Polish military and political relations from the late 16th to the early 18th century. Historians call this the period of the struggle for national freedom and the creation of the Cossack nation. According to experts, the pearl in the crown of this section is the hetman’s banner of 1686-88, on loan from the Kharkiv Museum of History. Restored at the Cracow National Museum especially for this exhibit, the banner was recently brought back to Ukraine.

One of the sections is about Hetman Pylyp Orlyk and his political activity. As The Day reported recently, experts say that his life can serve as an excellent example of how one should serve national ideas and the people.

The fifth thematic section depicts events from the 17th and 18th centuries as they were remembered by subsequent generations. The displayed rarities show the close relations and cooperation between Ukraine and Sweden’s intelligentsia from the early part of the 20th century to the present.

Relations between Ukraine and Sweden are developing dynamically today. Sweden is the sixth largest investor in the Ukrainian economy, and our shared history plays no small role here. The cooperation between Ukraine and “the country far to the north” is very promising because Sweden is a country that “always enjoyed great respect among the Cossacks” and their descendants.