President Lech Kaczynski noted the paramount importance of Poland's relations with neighboring Ukraine already in his inaugural address after taking office last December, stating that a new quality must be attained in their development, Radio Polonia informed.

Poland has been a consistent supporter of Ukraine's EU and NATO aspirations. During his visit to Washington two weeks ago, Lech Kaczynski conferred with president Bush on the tenets of American policy towards Poland's eastern neighbors. Ukraine occupied a prominent place in their discussion. President Kaczynski used the occassion to secure US backing for Ukrainian membership in the North Atlantic Treaty.

'Poland is interested in Ukraine's relatively quick NATO membership, as it would then cease to be the eastern frontline of the Alliance, 2008 being an optimal solution.'

Polish-Ukrainian relations have required much patience and good will on both sides to overcome prejudice and even animosity, which accumulated over centuries of turbulent history right down to contemporary times. An evident breakthrough had taken place during the Orange Revolution when Poland undertook the sensitive task of internal and external mediation for the cause of Victor Yushchenko's pro-democratic forces. Andrzej Krajewski was an international observer of the memorable elections in Ukraine. He recalls that of the 13 thousand observers present at the time, 3 thousand - the biggest group - had come from Polish organizations.

Economic contacts between Poland and Ukraine are also a meaningful factor of the two countries' relations. Ukraine is Poland's second biggest partner in this field after Russia among the post-Soviet republics. One of the major co-operation projects is the Odessa-Brody pipeline. Ten days ago, a strategic agreement had been signed in Warsaw on its extension to Plock and Gdansk in central and northern Poland, respectively. President Yushchenko has continuously underscored the impact of this huge and complex undertaking.

'The Odessa-Brody project is extremely promissing, as it can be incorporated into the idea of a joint EU energy market. It can be supplementary in character, allowing Union countries and Ukraine to expand their energy services. Our position is unwavering.'

All these plans are very ambitious and profit oriented, but observers agree that following the example of political tightening of Polish-Ukrainian relations, MUCH MORE can still be achieved in the economic sphere. Something the current visit of president Kaczynski in Kiev is bound to serve.


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