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Elina Beketova: Mr. President, when you became the president of Poland for the second time, did you plan then that Poland would join the EU along with Ukraine and Belarus. Poland managed that in 2004, while Ukraine is not an EU member. Why?
Lech Wałęsa: I have made some mistakes. I postponed this case for the time of my second cadence, then I lost the election. There was no second cadenza, and the case was interrupted. My successor was rather weak, had a different view of this matter and could not understand my concept. I am very sorry. The situation would be different if Ukraine were a member of the European Union and NATO. We would gain momentum, we would be stronger together. And that was my idea, but I was not able to justify it.
In December 2014, you praised a former president Yanukovych, because he took everything that was needed from Russia, knowing that Ukraine would be in Europe so. Did you really believe that during the presidency of Yanukovych Ukraine could join the EU?
Throughout my life, I did not fight people, but systems. It did not matter to me who was in charge. Even in Poland (with Jaruzelski), I have reached agreements with my enemies. I have never fought against people, even against my opponents. I tried to defeat the system. And, of course, I liked some things in Yanukovych's activities, but certainly not all of them. And it seemed to me that he was going in a good direction. And I encouraged him to move that way.
But Ukraine is still not in the EU. When will it happen?
I was brought up in a way that there is no free Poland without free Ukraine. And since we are not moving forward together with Ukraine, there is no peace in this part of the world. They will remember bad things from the past.
What prevents us from moving forward?
Europe was not ready. There were no people who thought like me. And those who aspire this to happen. Europe is now moving back. Ukraine is a large country with good agriculture. Being in the EU, most agricultural workers will no longer work there. For them, the best way is to slow down this development and block Ukraine's entry into the EU. I tried to gain momentum in this process, but, unfortunately, I have failed.
In December 1991, Poland was the first country in the world to recognize Ukraine's independence, if you were then told that Russia would annex Crimea and attack the east of Ukraine, would you believe it? How to finish the war and regain control over Crimea again?
It would be impossible, and that is bad. This is not the world in which you can do such things. The world and Europe today are built in such a way to level the barriers and equalize the chances and the degree of development. Russia is going back. It has to lose this battle, and it loses it. Russia would lose even faster if Ukraine joined the EU and NATO. If you aligned all the chances and demolished all the barriers and boundaries. Russia would not apply those things, that is another era. The problem now is an elimination of barriers to understanding between peoples. How much blood was shed when we fought with Germany? And there is no border today. And nobody has that problem now because that is another era. And Russia is late, it does not have that degree of mental development, as the whole world does. It uses a model of development from another era, which in today's times is not effective.
But despite problems of the Russian Federation, it still attacked Eastern Ukraine and annexed Crimea. How can we end this now? Is there a way?
Russia still lives in the old era and the world has moved to a new one. The world increases structures and destroys borders. All European countries are making one united European country now. And we even make the European continent global. There are no boundaries for the Internet, satellite TV, for airplanes - we do not even know where the globally controlled aircraft movement is from. And the style of Russia, which attacked Crimea and eastern Ukraine, does not fit today’s agenda. It must lose this battle, and it will. Crimea will not be either Russian or Ukrainian - it will be the territory of a new European state.
The author of the so-called shock therapy for Poland Leszek Balcerowicz is a co-chairman of the reform support group in Ukraine. Why and how did he manage to make an economic breakthrough in Poland?
There are many reasons that explain why Poland managed to make an economic breakthrough, and Ukraine could not do it. In Poland, there were many witnesses to democracy and a free market, market processes and capitalism, and in Ukraine there were none. We had many spheres such as agriculture, craft, which were private, and unfortunately, Ukraine did not have them. There was no way to offer a way out of the crisis situation in Ukraine. Ukraine demanded cooperation, and unfortunately, Balcerowicz at that time could not help Ukraine. And so I supported Balcerowicz in Poland but I told him: "It's good that you support a free economy, but remember that people do not keep up with you. So, shut down state factories, farms, and do your best." But we must have a brother who will come and try to save something from that ruin. And then your brother should know how much money Poland has, how can the world help us.
Poland has a new government now. Do you think that Mateusz Morawiecki will be able to establish a strategic partnership, in particular, with Ukraine?
We must do this: when two sides are fighting against each other, the third party will always take advantage of this. We must step down from this concept and find an opportunity for cooperation. And when there is a conflict we will be calm when we understand, but this is not a part of the movement forward. And therefore, I wish him to succeed.
You said that there is no free Poland without free Ukraine. In recent months, we have seen the conflict against the background of the historical issues. How do we find a mutual understanding of this situation?
We must understand that there was such an epoch before the end of the 20th century. That was the era of the land. People started wars for the land, we moved our borders, these were the interests of that time. Many mistakes were made. Now we live in another epoch - the era of intellect, information and globalization. And we have become consumers on a massive scale. We spend huge amounts of money on works of intelligence - cars, the Internet and many other things. Today's era has other interests. And we must live in this era with those interests.
What is the future of Ukraine, Russia, and Poland?
In accordance with logic and wisdom, we are moving in the direction of great peace and brotherhood. War and the extraction of territories are left in the past. The question is how to break away from that era? How to leave that direction? There is no choice - we are doomed to peace, development, and brotherhood. I also ask myself a question, how much more blood should be shed, to finally go towards cooperation and understanding. I hoped that during my work as a governor I would manage to do this, but, unfortunately, I did not succeed. And there is a question whether another revolution will be needed, or it will be possible to do without it. Many people say that the world always comes to a starting point, and forces are being used to destroy entire civilizations, and then we start again from the very beginning. And now they are inventing a lot of technical things that the highest civilizations once had already. And they could not find a common language and destroyed each other. Someone even says that there was life on Mars, and so it was destroyed as well. And fo, me this is the question of either we will be saved, or we will destroy ourselves once again.