The Year of Poland is drawing to a close in Ukraine, ushering in the Year of Ukraine in Poland. This was one of the questions raised during a recent visit to Kyiv by Poland’s Parliamentary Speaker Wlodzimierz Cimoszewicz. Prime Minister Marek Belka is also expected to visit Ukraine in the coming days, on March 3, according to preliminary information. The Year of Ukraine in Poland will obviously be high on the agenda of his talks with the Ukrainian leadership. There are a number of other issues in the bilateral relationship, some of which are discussed in the following brief interview with Wlodzimierz Cimoszewicz.
“How would you assess the Year of Poland in Ukraine? Have any arrangements on the Year of Ukraine in Poland been reached?”
“I’m very glad that, whether by accident or not, the Year of Poland in Ukraine took place at this time (the Orange Revolution — Ed.), and that all the cultural, scientific, and economic events were complemented by Warsaw’s active political involvement. The goal of the Year of Poland was to introduce our country to Ukrainian citizens to give them a better idea of how Poles live. But is it not for me to judge whether we succeeded or not. Ukrainians should be the judge of that. I have received information that confirms that a lot of people attended various exhibitions and events. It is now Ukraine’s turn to organize a similar program in Poland. I must repeat that now is a very favorable time for this. Ukraine has attracted tremendous interest both in Poland and the rest of the world. The response of ordinary Poles to the events in Ukraine was somewhat unexpected. I don’t ever remember any other event in the world that received as much support and interest from our citizens. Whatever Ukraine decides to show Poland will be very well received. I have discussed this issue with Verkhovna Rada speaker Volodymyr Lytvyn and Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko. Of course, the government should work out the program for the Year of Ukraine, but it would be good if parliament were also involved in this process, so that the lawmakers can provide broad political support for this idea. Everything should be done quickly to ensure that the program is successfully carried out this year.”
“One of the acute issues in the bilateral relationship is Kyiv’s decision to withdraw its peacekeepers from Iraq. Do you know anything about the progress of talks on this matter?”
“You should ask the Defense Minister about the specifics. All I can say is that Ukraine’s decision is not a big surprise for us. We have long discussed the question of reducing our presence in Iraq after the elections. Today I am convinced that the political situation in this country has improved. The Iraqis have shown everyone, both inside their country and elsewhere, that they support democratic reforms and the new political system. It seems to me that in the next couple of months the Iraqi army will be ready to take on more responsibility for ensuring safety in Iraq, and this will enable the coalition members to reduce their participation in the peacekeeping effort. Of course, we know about the statements that have been issued by Ukrainian politicians, including President Viktor Yushchenko, to the effect that the withdrawal of troops will be conducted based on consultations with Ukraine’s partners. This is how it should be done. It is a joint effort, and none of the allies can do anything that would create complications for their friends and partners. It seems to me that this is precisely what is happening.”
“The presidential post would make your professional record complete. How do you picture Poland’s policy toward Ukraine after President Alexander Kwasniewski leaves office?”
“You know that parliamentary and presidential elections will be held in Poland this year. A change of government is quite possible in Poland. But I don’t expect major changes in Poland’s policy toward Ukraine. Poland has a very broad political consensus on Ukraine as well as support for Kyiv’s European aspirations. Rightists and leftists alike are saying so. Much will probably change in Polish politics, but not in this connection. Therefore, I believe that the next Polish president and parliament will continue the same policy of which you are very well aware.”