Poland as Ukraine's lobbyist in the EU

Author : Mykola Siruk

Source : 112 Ukraine

Experts on Ukrainian Prime Minister's participation in the economic forum in Krynica and talks with Polish Prime Minister
23:40, 8 September 2016

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Groisman Szydlo

It seems that relations between Ukraine and Poland are moving into a new pragmatic phase focused on intensifying cooperation and solving specific problems. The first visit of Ukraine’s Prime Minister Volodymyr Groisman to Poland might be considered in this light. Ukraine’s politician attended the 26th Economic Forum in Krynica-Zdroj (Poland) and held talks with the head of the Polish government Beata Szydlo.

Groisman noted that it is necessary to intensify cooperation between the countries at the intergovernmental level to be able to solve all the challenges. The parties discussed the ways to improve the situation on the border crossing between Ukraine and Poland to avoid the long queues and provide good service. Ukrainian Prime Minister stressed on the cooperation between the two countries in the spheres of policy, defense, energy, and culture.

Related: Meeting of heads of parliaments of the European countries kicked off in Poland

Szydlo noted that Poland is ready to implement joint projects with Ukraine in the field of civil institutions, adding that Warsaw would like to be Ukraine’s ambassador in the EU, and it wishes to see Ukraine as a part of the EU. Earlier, many Ukrainian politicians highlighted Poland's advocacy of Ukraine in the EU, although there is better suited word "lobbyist." But do we really need the EU ambassador to Brussels to be heard on the European level?

It was quite expected that the two premiers would not rise a very contradictive issue of historical relations between the two countries. "Poland and Ukraine have a common history, and it is necessary to look for themes that unite the two countries," the Polish prime minister noted.

Related: UK, Poland support preservation of anti-Russian sanctions

Head of Ukrainian Government also stressed that relations between countries are influenced by the challenging past and prosper future. "We have come from a single common position concerning the understanding of history," he said, expressing hope for a good future strategic.

One of the forum’s panel was "Can Central Europe to speak with one voice?" that was attended by the heads of governments of the Visegrad Group V4 format + Ukraine. Groisman noted: "Today, Ukraine needs help as the EU now needs Ukraine. Ukraine is an example that we can stop the aggressor. We can show that it is impossible in today's world to do what Russia has done. So our position on pressure against the aggressor should be joined. Sanctions against Russia as punishment for ignoring international law are justified and should be retained until the aggressor does not go away from the territory of a sovereign state."

Prime Minister said that the country needs assistance the Visegrad Four in conducting reforms, as these countries have passed this difficult path earlier.  Strengthening of cross-border cooperation, cooperation in infrastructure, energy security, and national defense and security.

Related: Poland resumes small frontier traffic with Ukraine

Hetmanchuk Aliona, Institute of World Policy, Kyiv:

It is a positive indicator that Prime Minister of Poland chooses topics that do not divide, but  unite Ukraine and Poland. But it would be even better if the Polish government focuses shifted to topics that will unite Ukraine and Poland in the future. The agenda of the Polish-Ukrainian partnership must be filled with concrete projects, not finding the guilt and the victim. As to Visegrad, we must use all possible platforms for communication at its level. We need to stop neglecting our neighbors.

Ukraine would gladly see Poland as a lobbyist in the EU. But today's relationships between Warsaw and Brussels are not that smooth (through the controversial decision of the Polish government to reform the constitutional court and state control over public media, and through the confrontation with the head of the EU Council Tusk).

Andrii Deshchytsia Ukraine's Ambassador to Poland, Warsaw:

At all meetings of premiers, we heard the assurances of support for the territorial integrity of Ukraine and condemning Russian aggression. They called for continued sanctions, noting that the situation with the adoption of this decision at the European level is difficult. All premiers supported the idea of granting visa-free regime as soon as possible and ratification of the Association Agreement.

Related: Groysman and Szydlo agreed to improve the conditions of crossing the Ukrainian-Polish border

In addition, each of the premiers expressed proposals for bilateral and regional cooperation “Visegrad + Ukraine.” These are infrastructure projects, expansion of existing checkpoints and construction of new ones on the borders with Poland, Slovakia, and Hungary. The politicians discussed cooperation in the energy sector, the combination of Ukrainian energy capacity, including the KNPP to the European grid via Poland, the extension of the reverse supply of gas through Slovakia, construction of an interconnector for gas supplies from Poland to Ukraine.

During a conversation with Szydlo, Groisman spoke about the intensification of economic cooperation, particularly emphasized the use of the Polish credit for the development of border infrastructure and customs authorities cooperation. In addition, the premiers discussed military-technical cooperation, which has been successfully developing between our countries.

Piotr Koscinski, Polish Institute of International Affairs, Warsaw:

We know that Hungary, Slovakia and Ukraine have different points of view on sanctions against Russia. I hope that Groisman’s participation in Krynica-Zdroj forum would help to improve relations between Kyiv and Visegrad countries.

Taking into consideration the format of the meeting, Ukraine might count on the support of the Visegrad Four.

Related: The new battle of Polish and Ukrainian historians

In general, Europe is experiencing various problems, including political and economic ones. And the economic forum in Krynica Zdroj might be very useful in this sense. We see that such meetings help to quickly solve the problems. Thus, adoption of any direct decisions or international agreements are not expected during the forum, but its “political climate” and backroom conversations are very important. Perhaps today we do not see the direct results today, but we will have them over time.


Related: Ukrainian startups boost the Polish economy

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