Joshua Holzer’s second article from July appeared in the Opinion section of the English-language EUobserver, published in Brussels, Belgium. Titled “Happy Birthday, Esperanto! ‘Language of peace’ turns 135”, it mentions Zamenhof’s peaceful aspirations for the language, the resolution of UNESCO, and the support for Esperanto from multiple winners of the Nobel Peace Prize.
Bullets and bombs are often the tools of battle, but only diplomacy can definitively end a war—and diplomacy requires language.
When Russia and Ukraine eventually sit down to negotiate peace, in which language should the treaty be written?
Ukrainian? Why would Russia agree to have a treaty written in a language that they regard as a mere dialect of Russian?
Russian? For Ukrainians fighting to preserve a unique and distinct cultural community, such an outcome would look a lot like defeat.
Given the EU’s support of Ukraine, Russia would likely also be opposed to having a treaty written in any of the bloc’s 24 official languages.
Similarly, given China’s stance towards Russia, Ukraine would likely be opposed to a treaty written in Chinese. The problem is: nearly all languages would be biased in one way or another.
Esperanto, on the other hand, is the national language of no country. Esperanto is neither pro-Russian nor pro-Ukrainian. Rather, Esperanto is a neutral, international language intended to help people bridge their divides.