The Ambassador of Poland, Jan Hell: We understand that Ukraine’s security is our security, as Poland’s security is the security of Ukraine

Last year was perhaps the most difficult in relations between Ukraine and Poland in the modern history of the Ukrainian state. Last summer, the Polish Parliament unilaterally adopted a resolution which accused the Ukrainians in the genocide of poles during the Second world war. And this was done despite the request of the Ukrainian political establishment not to do this step, and to adhere to the reconciliation, which was proposed by Ukraine is determined by the formula “apologize and forgive” and to leave history for historians. On the other hand, could not understand why Warsaw went to the aggravation of relations with Kiev, in view of the fact that its old enemy Russia from February 2014 waging war against Ukraine, the next victim of Russian aggression would be Poland.

It seems that this year among the Polish elites comes to dominate the understanding of the necessity of establishing normal relations with Ukraine. And this testimony was the visit of a delegation of Ukrainian parliamentarians last week in Warsaw during which Polish side voiced a desire to end disputes and to settle the misunderstandings in the field of historical policy.

Therefore, it is clear that the conversation of the Ambassador of Poland in Ukraine Jan Hell with the journalists “Day” in some way touched and historical perspective, however, the emphasis was placed on the future development of relations and cooperation in confronting Russian aggression, the fight against Russian propaganda.

Mykola of SIRUK: President Andrzej Duda repeatedly declared desire of Poland to join the “channel format” and the necessity of involving the United States. But at a recent meeting of foreign Ministers in Munich it was stated that there is no need in joining US. Because he sees your country implementation of the Minsk agreements and the settlement of the situation in the East of Ukraine?

Yang Hell: the Answer to that question deserves a Nobel prize. But Poland’s position is the following: Ukraine is our strategic partner, and we understand that Ukraine’s security is our security, as Poland’s security is the security of Ukraine. Here was symbolic that President Duda together with President Poroshenko on the independence Day attended a parade in Kiev. Before them passed the Polish-Ukrainian-Lithuanian brigade, which is the best evidence of Polish-Ukrainian strategic partnership. This team meets NATO standards and is operational. In December during the visit of President Poroshenko to Poland, the Ministers of defence Poltorak and Macarevich signed an agreement on cooperation in the security sphere. This is an important document. You can also say about a million of Ukrainians who live, work, learn and invest in Poland. This is very important. And I must say, if all the Ukrainians out of Poland, it would be a problem for the Polish economy and for the Ukrainian economy, because, on the one hand, Ukrainians in Poland send money to their families in Ukraine, and is a significant part of the Ukrainian budget. We can say that this is the best form of implementation of the Association Agreement. And today this cannot be changed. Because it’s a common economic space, which works very well.

“Putin has shown that he is not interested in de-escalation”

MS: But back to the Minsk process. Last Saturday the President of Russia issued a decree recognized the passport of ORLDA, which is a violation of the Minsk agreements. How, in your opinion, Europe needs to react to it and, moreover, to force Russia to take responsibility for their actions?

J. P:
Poland understands the importance of security. We, on the Polish soil, is the NATO and American troops. Unfortunately, Ukraine failed at the Bucharest summit of NATO to action Plan on membership. I think that we need to do everything to strengthen the defense, and it was signed above mentioned agreement between the Ministers of defence on the establishment of areas of cooperation between NATO and Ukraine. It is for us a tool that works.

I can only repeat that we consider it appropriate to introduce US to the “channel format”. However, we do not know what will happen tomorrow policy of the White house and President Donald trump. But, it seems, his mood not so, who would like Moscow. We are talking about what the White house said that Moscow should return to Ukraine Crimea.

It seems that Russia wants to test the US and NATO. Therefore, the issuance of passports in ALDO threat. This is similar to the process that has occurred in Abkhazia, and in fact is a step towards the recognition of these republics independent.

Therefore, we can say that the Minsk process is a disaster. For “Norman format” will be very difficult to maintain a dialogue on implementation of Minsk agreements.

President Poroshenko said that the recognition of passports ORDA Russia is a gross violation of the Minsk agreements. Just escalating, not de-escalation. Moreover, this step of the Russian leader was made during a conference in Munich. We can say that Putin has shown that he is just not interested in de-escalation but rather in escalation. Think in connection with the electoral process in Russia, he wants to be President again and it is such a sort of training. After the annexation of Crimea and the war in the Donbas Putin can not go on relief, and only such steps. And, unfortunately, this may trigger a new tragedy, a new fighting, the escalation, not de-escalation.

“There is an opinion on the resumption of the project “Memoria” Marshal Pilsudski and Petliura”

M. S.: January 11 at the meeting with Polish diplomats Andrzej Duda urged to improve the dynamics of cooperation in the framework of the project Baltic-black sea Union. How can you comment?

J. P:
Yes, there is an opinion on the resumption of an old project “Memorie” Marshal Pilsudski and Petliura. That was their General opinion. If we look at the map of Europe, we will see that all the infrastructure goes from Berlin to Moscow and further — perhaps to China. And we would like to infrastructure took place from the Baltic sea through the Baltic countries, Ukraine, Belarus, Poland to the Black sea and the Adriatic. This change in the economy and geopolitics. If you read the book of Timothy Snyder’s “Blood lands” and look at the map, we can say that in fact we are talking about the idea of Pilsudski and Petliura on a Federation of the countries of Central and Eastern Europe. And if at that time such a structure has been created, it is possible that there would be no Second world war. We must now state that the front for the freedom of Europe, who in 1920 took place on the Vistula, now that the front is located in the Donbas. It’s just a reality of modern history, no more and no less. They are hard to deny.

“We have not had such a “wild privatization”, both in Ukraine during Kuchma”

M. S.: How Poland managed to maintain the growth rate of the economy when the other countries in the EU, these indicators were negative, and what lessons of economic reforms in your country can be interesting for Ukraine, which is now seeking to grow its economy and to solve difficult social problems?

J. P.: let us Remember that in the period of martial law in Poland (the 80-ies of XX century) the economic problems were extremely heavy. Let me be Frank: it was a terrible picture. Before the main political forces in Poland held a roundtable and agreed with each other (1989), we had a shortage of virtually all products. All coupons issued, cards; the part of the poles went to Ukraine (that is, while in the USSR) in order to buy the right things. Because you had a much higher standard of living. Our economy was practically destroyed, and we had to start almost from “zero level”. But soon we got the money from the European Union, and it is possible to stabilize the situation.

But in Poland there were no such phenomena as in Ukraine: there was the gigantic scale of the oligarchs, who own the “lion’s share” of ownership and political power, and in your government and in the Verkhovna Rada. Let me repeat: we did not have this. We have — let me be sincere — it was not such a “wild privatization”, both in Ukraine during Kuchma. Economic transformation in Poland was different: it was carried out quickly, the oligarchs if there was, how shall I say… “shallow.”

Of course, the Ukrainian oligarchs are also different; some of them sought to acquire “a controlling stake” shares in Parliament, effectively blocking the development of society. And others understand that the Association Agreement with the EU provides them with key opportunities.

“We never quarrel”

MS: the Leader of “Law and Justice” Jaroslaw Kaczynski said recently that “geroiziruya” Bandera, Ukraine can never join the European community. Why do you think some Polish politicians to make such controversial political statements instead of these issues of history has engaged professional historians of Poland and Ukraine?

Y. P.:
I think that in Poland and in Ukraine such statements are pronounced, based primarily on political considerations — not the interests of Ukrainian-Polish relations. And in Ukraine there are enough nationalist people who are to witness the strength of their convictions, recently, for example, hung a portrait of Bandera at the entrance to the Polish Embassy in Kiev. There are anti-Ukrainian minded people in Poland, who in this way work for the electorate. It is important in these circumstances that between our countries remains communication; our foreign Minister arrives in Kiev, your — in Warsaw, scheduled Commission meeting when the presidents of Ukraine and Poland in Kiev. A group of Ukrainian historians from the Institute of national memory, headed by Volodymyr Viatrovych and our historians led by Grzegorzek by Motyka working documents. This is absolutely correct. History is history and future is future.

I think that both the Polish and the Ukrainian government understand that in any case we must not quarrel, we must reach an understanding, because our cause is common.

“Ukrainians and poles need to remember positive examples of shared struggle”

Igor Sundukov: Our people have a very “tightly” bound a thousand years of history. It was all: and partnership, and good neighborliness and conflicts, and squabbles, and brutal war, reconciliation and the resumption of a sincere affection and good neighbourliness. About this — our book “War and peace” in the series “Library of the newspaper “Day”. The freedom of our people is indeed closely vzaimouvazheniju. When one of our States lost their independence — it had extremely dangerous consequences for the other. On the one hand, we now have an openly anti-Ukrainian film, “Volyn” Wojciech Smarzowski. But the thing that is the tradition of Jerzy Giedroyc, Jacek Kuron, a tradition of respect for Ukraine and the desire to understand it, to build equal relations with us. Sometimes, frankly, the impression that these traditions in Poland to 2017 start to forget. What do you say to that?

Y. P.: I am convinced that the tradition of Jerzy Giedroyc live in Poland. I knew this unique man, I was visited by Giedroyc in Paris, and we talked about Ukraine. Our victim in 2010, President Lech Kaczynski, in 2008, visited Tbilisi together with Viktor Yushchenko and Valdis Adamkus, President of Lithuania. In Tbilisi, Kaczynski said: “I came to Georgia during the war, during Russian aggression. I’m here because if we don’t stop this aggression, the next will be Ukraine, then Baltic States, then Poland”. He foresaw the future!

Ukrainians and poles should be good to remember the positive examples of shared struggle and cooperation. Such as in 1920 near Warsaw, when the soldiers Mark Bezruchko fought side by side with the army of Pilsudski. As in 1939, when Ukrainians and poles together defended Lviv against Hitler. There is a proposal of the presidents of Duda and Poroshenko to perpetuate the memory of Ukrainians who rescued poles during the war, and poles who rescued Ukrainians. This is a very good idea and good practice, this was in due time initiated in Israel. I think we need to think about the General history about the positives, not the negatives.

I. S.: I can Not avoid the issue of the Volyn tragedy. It is a terrible pain for our people. But personally, I think a very accurate Polish word “ludobojstwo” — in it there is the fact that people died, and Ukrainians, and poles. Those who slaughtered the old, small — whoever they were, first of all they violate Christian commandments. This word is sometimes better than “genocide”. In 2013, the delegation of journalists, including me, was in Warsaw at the Ministry of foreign Affairs. I always thought the correct formula is “ask forgiveness and forgive” in order to understand the essence of this tragedy. But the Deputy Minister said, according to the Ministry of foreign Affairs, this formula is somewhat outdated. And then she said no alternatives. In your opinion, this formula works? We ask forgiveness, and forgive at the same time?

Y. P.:
I would say that it’s just a historical process. Such a process we had with the Germans: letters of apology to each other. I know that members from our both sides also wrote such letters to each other, and I thought the process went. But, unfortunately, there is Russia, which wants to break us up and makes everything possible for this. You know what happened in House penyatskoy. The night Christmas someone tore the roof which is an expensive symbol for all Christians, Ukrainians, and poles. Then the poles and the Ukrainians understand that the purpose of this campaign is to break us up and create the impression that it did the Ukrainians. And then a similar story in Bykovnya, where was destroyed the monument. It is a land where lie the victims of the Stalinist regime — poles, Ukrainians, Moldovans, Jews and Russians. All of them were killed by the NKVD. It could do only a bandit. There is an opinion that it was the criminal element that operates in Russia, the FSB.

About how Ukraine and Poland can work together to resist Russian propaganda

Vadim Lubchak: Mr. Ambassador, in December last year in Przemysl already passed the traditional March “Przemysl and lwów Eaglets” campaign in memory of local students and harcerov (activists of the scout movement) who died in the Polish-Ukrainian war of 1918-1919, But this time she was gripped by anti-Ukrainian hysteria. In particular, some participants directly at the Ukrainian national home were shouting “death to Ukrainians,” was burned Ukrainian flag. The correspondent of the “Day” in Poland analyzed the response of leading media and concluded that none of the national Newspapers didn’t report it, only the regional media. Why famous intellectuals, official Warsaw does not condemn such anti-Ukrainian situation?

Y. P.: I can say that, first, the burning of the flag was during a March in Warsaw in the summer, and you know how it was. Someone burned a flag, and someone made the movie. This video can be found very quickly on YouTube and on the websites of the DNR and LNR. For me the question is — who did it and why? I think in order for us to quarrel. Many Ukrainians work in Poland, the attitude towards them is positive. I can’t imagine that it made a normal pole. And if it did a pole, it works not on Poland, and on some other interest. As for Przemysl is in a similar situation. Were the demonstrators and the Ukrainian house someone shouted. Immediately there was a film that was widely cited. Recently someone hung a portrait of Bandera at the us Embassy. And again film. Russia understands that social media for them is the best weapon that can be. Then it goes from social networks into the mainstream with the help of Newspapers, television, radio. And this is a problem that Russia achieves what he wants.

We have a purely volunteer group called “Russian Fifth column in Poland”, which shows the methods and results of propaganda, fake news. You have a “Stopfeyk”. In my opinion, it would be best to organize such a group of journalists from the Polish and the Ukrainian side, who have experience investigation so they just worked on such incidents, provocations and fakes. Based on their investigations then it would be possible to write an article. First, it would show that we work together on fakes. And secondly, it would be worth to publish in reputable journals on both sides — for example, in “Rzeczpospolita” in Poland, the newspaper “Day” in Ukraine, and thereby show that our quarrel is not true.

Anastasia Rudenko: Mr. Ambassador, are you the author of two books on the Balkans, and previously covered as a journalist the war in the former Yugoslavia. Now the region is reeling. In October 2016, the Montenegrin police have warned the power scenario of the seizure of power in the country. The rebels were planning an armed assault on the government houses and the killing of the then Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic. The Kremlin is aggressively trying to gain a foothold in the Balkans, fostering friendly political forces in the region. At the moment, they are actively implementing a plan B — you want to spend in the Russian support “national” referendum. Its estimated date is March 24, the day when NATO aircraft began bombing targets on the territory of Serbia and Montenegro. What is the situation in the region now, and why the West led by the US and NATO “slept” soft invasion of Russia in Europe. And what should be the response?

J. P: Not all slept. This was Putin’s strategy to lull Europe, so she didn’t pay attention to such cases of revolts in individual countries. Before the Second world war said that Hitler is not so bad. Well, took a part of Czechoslovakia. It seems to be bad. But Europe does not want war. Then gave it to Poland. Maybe I need the world need peace. Now Putin has annexed Crimea. Europe is silent, they say, wait and see what happens. Then — “the Minsk agreement”, which in fact are not met. The same policy as in the time of Hitler.

The Balkans it has always been “soft belt” of Europe. And Putin is actively working there. Part of Bosnia and Herzegovina — Republic of Srpska as part of the Federation. The President of the Republic came to Putin, and they probably decided that you want to secede from the Federation. This is a very revealing story. At the moment the Western press writes that even the Prime Minister wanted to kill. Putin is working on all possible fronts: Aleppo, Syria, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Moldova, Ukraine. The Balkans. So it was in the beginning of the Second world war. Nobody thought that France and Belgium Hitler is.

Liberal democracy can defend itself only when it is raped. Looks so that at the next elections in France Le Pen has a real chance to win. It is a tragedy and a challenge for everyone.

“Today, Polish investors — a good time to invest in, support your country”

MS: In the “Bottom” (No. 28-29 from 17-18 February) published an interesting material “On indivisible freedom, or What kind of Poland we love?”. You’ve read it.

Y. P.:
Yes, I read it. Thank you for such a question.

M: Then can you tell us what kind of Ukraine do you like?

J. P: We would like to love and support civilized Ukraine — European, democratic and prosperous. Ukraine, which will become a member of EU and NATO. So we can invest in the Ukraine, and Ukrainians in Poland. Below we together earn money and develop. Today for Polish investors — a good time to invest in, support your country. Yes, there is a risk. Some people think that Putin can attack your country and become a threat to all of Europe. But we must remember the words of Zbigniew Brzezinski: “there is No safe Europe, without a democratic and free Ukraine”. These relations between our countries can also be strengthened through cultural projects. Today there is an exchange between our students. This is an interesting Polish-Ukrainian project, and it is the best way to learn the culture of both countries. Also it is important to think about common cultural projects. For example, it’s time to make a film together about the battle of Warsaw, to reveal images of Pilsudski and Petlyura. Let’s study and do the promotion of our common writers, musicians and artists.