Image of Poland as the best friend of Ukraine in the EU is being supported by both sides, including mass media, experts and diplomats. Poland is often cited as an example to follow for Ukraine, especially in the respect of realization of reforms. However, modern successful Poland has been build not only by native Polish, Ukrainian Diaspora, one of the most numerous diasporas in the country, has participated as well. Miron Sycz, a son of UPA soldier, was born and made career in Poland. Now, he is the only ethnic Ukrainian in the Seym and defends the rights of our country fellows in Poland. Thanks to his efforts, one of the streets of Olshtyn city was named after Taras Shevchenko, and Ukrainian illegal migrants got a possibility to legalize their stay.

However, not by politics alone...Miron Sycz used to perform as comedian and at the first festival of 'Chervona Ruta' in 1989, he read out his comic sketches. Sometimes he still jokes: "I live according to Julian calendar. If I don't understand something in politics I have another two weeks to get to the bottom of it." ForUm decided to ask Miron Sycz about Polish view on Euro-2012 and Ukraine's European integration in general, as well as about Ukrainians' fortune in Poland.

- Experts and politicians have been talking about the second wave of crisis. Poland was one of few countries who survived the crisis of 2008-2009 with positive economy growth. Do you have a special secret? What do you say about the second wave?

- Believe me, Poland talks a lot about the second wave of the crisis. We know that if the negative forecasts come true, it will badly hit our agricultural sector.

Speaking about 2008, one cannot say that the crisis passed by Poland. We survived thanks to the means, allocated by the EU for infrastructure projects. Despite negative processes in the world economy, we managed to build a great number of new roads in cities and towns.

Speaking about a "secret", I want to remind that Poland was actively developing its domestic market. On the other hand, our government adopted a number of special laws to protect the people, including bank guarantees and others. As you know, Poland's parliament has adopted the pension reform, according to which the pension age for men and women now makes 67 years. Obviously, many people are not happy with this reform, but intelligent people understand the risk to repeat the financial mistake of Greece, when its government was paying off money not thinking about tomorrow.
- Poland for Ukraine is an example of successful reforms. Tell us what reform you consider the most important.

- In due time Poland's government chose to decentralize the power, and I believe it was one of the best reforms. The central authorities now share not only the obligations with the local governments, but the right to manage local funds as well. The local governments now have real power and influence. Many MPs of the Seym ran for mayors or district deputies. They would have never done this unless there was real power there.

- Euro-2012 is over. How do the Polish people estimate the results and are you satisfied with the organization and staging level of the championship?

- Though neither of our teams has reached the final, I believe it was a great moment for our countries. Neither of two would have built such stadiums if not for Euro-2012. The same concerns the infrastructure.

Poland and Ukraine have been promoted. European mass media do not write about Ukraine often, and if they do, the matter concerns negative episodes like forged voting or a fight in the parliament. But now, thanks to Euro, EU people have learned more about Ukraine, about its ancient culture and beautiful traditions.

- How would you comment on the 'Stadiums of Hate", infamous BBC report about Ukraine on the eve of Euro-2012?

- Oh, this report aroused serious indignation among Polish people. Frankly speaking, we had some kind of incidents, but I would not say it was a mass phenomenon. I arrived in Warsaw to see the match between Russia and Poland. I went not to the stadium but the fan-zone. 98 percent of fans were happy and relatively calm about the game, however, there were people who did not care about the game but came to make troubles - it was obvious at first sight. 

In general, negative forecasts did not come true, and many foreigners declared they wanted to stay in Poland longer to learn about the country.

- One year ago, in summer 2011, President Bronislaw Komorowski announced amnesty for all illegal migrants. Do you know how many Ukrainians used the opportunity?

- According to the data of some public organizations, there are 500 thousand illegal migrants in Poland. On the eve of the adoption of this law, I personally consulted with public organizations and illegal migrants. I did my best for the parliament to pass this law.

The program was open until the end of June of this year. Unfortunately, not many illegal migrants decided to join the program - eight thousand people or more. There were about two thousand Ukrainians among them. The fact is that the majority of illegal migrants preferred to continue working "in shadow".

- As far as we know, you are the only ethnic Ukrainian in Polish Seym. Is it difficult for ethnic Ukrainians to get governing positions in Poland?

- May be there are other Ukrainians in Seym, who keep it a secret, I don't know. But I am the only one to took the oath, dressed in the national costume of Ukraine.

My origin was never a problem. I worked as the director of a Ukrainian school, was a member of the union of Ukrainians in Poland, and was an MP of Olshtyn regional council for three convocations.

We have successful Ukrainians in science and business. In politics, we have Professor Volodymyr Mokryi - the first Ukrainian who ran for parliament on "Solidarity" party list in the postwar Poland. There is also Myroslaw Chech. The matter is that Ukrainians are spread all over Poland, and it is difficult for them to nominate one candidate. Besides, after the operation "Visla" in 1947, when the Soviet power forced Ukrainians to move to the poorest regions of Poland, the people assimilated. However, despite everything, Ukrainians are presented in the power, especially in local Seyms.

- The "Western partnership" program is being less and less discussed. Does it mean the program is over? What was the point in the first place?

- The "Western partnership" program was supposed to bring Ukraine closer to the EU. Ukraine was supposed to get the maximum advantage, as it was the biggest partner in the program. However, it turned out that Ukraine misused the means allocated by the EU for reforms and did not carry out reforms properly.

- Ukraine's PM Mykola Azarov once said he made a bet with former Polish President Alexander Kwasnewski on that Ukraine would join the EU in ten years. Official Russia, on the contrary, does not believe Ukraine will ever enter the EU. Which of the two statements do you support?

- Ukraine will be a member of the EU, I don't see any other variant. To tell the truth, I hope the EU will still exist by that time. But I want to remind you it not the EU but Ukraine to make its homework. When Poland applied for EU membership in 1994, it took us ten years to adjust the laws to the EU standards. You know what you have to do. Ten years may be enough, maybe not.

- Still, running for the EU membership Poland not only made its homework but also "fought" for the conditions of membership and Brussels made concessions...

- Yes, it was serious negotiations, mainly about the agricultural sector. Poland wanted to protect its land and ban the land sale. We knew that the next day after the entry the foreign enterprises could have bought all our land. Ukraine should follow Poland's example in this question.

- Recently, President of Russia Vladimir Putin urged to simplify the RF citizenship application procedure for former USSR citizens as well as for descendants of Russian Empire nationals. Do you think it bears any threat for Poland's sovereignty, as it used to be a part of the Russia Empire?

- I believe Putin had in mind former USSR countries. But there is another matter. Small countries have small problems, big countries have big problems, and very big countries have huge problems. And if a country cannot solve its problems, it creates problems for neighbors to have someone to blame. It happens in politics...

Alina Yeremeyeva


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