- Mr. Ambassador, you alleged repeatedly that Poland does everything possible for Ukraine's progress underway towards European integration. In your opinion, why would Poles need this?
- Ukraine and Poland are neighboring states and two peoples, united by common historical past and dynamic dialogue of the present. Ukraine and Poland are two biggest countries of the central Europe. Since the appearance on the historical map of Europe, our peoples have been cooperating closely. It is logical that nowadays Ukraine and Poland show mutual interest.
Since Ukraine's independence, Poland and Ukraine have been developing cooperation. Having mutual economic interests and deep cultural ties with Ukraine, Poland considers our country as an important strategic partner. European integration is one of the most important issues of Ukraine's police, thus our neighbor lobbies it at all levels.
- Your colleague, Polish ambassador to Ukraine Henrik Litvin, once told ForUm that to obtain EU membership Ukraine needed changes and understanding that EU integration is not "the best variant" or "one of the possible ways", but the only right choice. Do you agree?
- I believe Ukrainian society has already realized the expediency of the European integration development and lack of options to this course. Thus, the improvements depend on how fast the country can implement necessary changes and how fast it can bring national legislation in line with the European standards and norms.
Ukraine is working on its homework regarding the improvement of investment climate and implementation of reforms. We have accomplished quite a bit... I hope that the new parliament will consolidate efforts to continue this course, and I hope that our western partners will show better openness and understanding.
- When will the time of visa-free regime finally come?
- We all know that visa regime complicates economic cooperation and personal contacts, as well as narrows down potentialities of cultural and interregional development. However, we observe certain progress.
Ukraine and EU have signed the so-called road map or visa-free regime package, which includes the list of tasks regarding adaptation of the legislation for Ukraine to accomplish and specific time limits for realization. Ukraine has achieved significant progress in this regard.
Among other steps towards visa-free regime, I want to point out the signing of the agreement between foreign ministries of Ukraine and Poland on cancellation of fees for processing of Polish national visas for Ukrainians.
- Don't you think that Poland's loyalty can be explained by the fact that Ukrainians are the fourth biggest national minority in the country?
- Well, according to the population census of 2011, there are 49 thousand people, identified themselves as Ukrainians, living in Poland. Beyond dispute, such large Ukrainian minority secures loyalty and support of our neighbor.
- How active are Ukrainians in Poland?
- Ukrainian community is active in all spheres. Union of Polish Ukrainians is an institute, which has been working for years to preserve national identity of Ukrainians, to support and develop the Ukrainian language and culture. Ukraine's embassy and Coordination council, formed in 2006, cooperate with the community to meet the demands of Ukrainians living in Poland.
The embassy and community are now working on the project of reconstruction of facilities of Ukrainian national house in Przemyśl. In particular, Ukraine's FM has allocated $104 thousand for project realization and $76 thousand have already been transferred. Moreover, Ukraine's Foreign Ministry provides financial support for publication of the second volume of Mysyl's book "Operation Visla. Documents".
Jointly with Ukrainian community, we hold cultural events and festivals of Ukrainian culture, celebrate state and religious holidays and preserve places, memorial for the Ukrainian people.
- There is a program is operation between our states on local border crossing. They say Ukrainians go to Poland to buy food and polish comes to Ukraine to buy petrol. The border traffic has become intense. Is it true and why? Do such voyages cause conflicts? Is there any necessity to open new border checkpoints?
- Every year we register more intense border traffic, but not only because of the program of local border traffic. I want to point out that intensification of interregional cooperation between Ukraine and Poland, improvement of cooperation in the sphere of science and culture also tell on the border traffic. Capacity of the common border is now on the agenda of our talks not only with Poland, but with the EU in general.
We are waiting for the decision of the European parliament on EC legislative initiative regarding Schengen border code. We hope that necessary changes will be introduced within a month or two, which will allow us to conduct joint border and customs control.
To ease the traffic at the Ukrainian-Polish border both parties have been working on modernization of the existing and construction of new checkpoints. Thus, in 2013 it is planned to open two new points - Ugrynov-Dolgobychuv and Grushev-Budomez.
Moreover, the construction of the highway of international importance to connect in Krakovets-Korcheva checkpoint will be finished soon, and following the agreement concluded during the last visit of Polish President to Ukraine, an international highway service checkpoint Nizhankovichi-Malkhovichi will be opened at Ukrainian-Polish border.
- What about Ukrainian business in Poland?
- If we look at the list of Ukrainian enterprises working at Polish market, we will see that Ukrainian business has significant representatives in Poland. There are at least ten enterprises with big Ukrainian capital, including Ukrainian investment projects such as metallurgic complex "Guta Czestochowa" (investor - Donbas Industrial Union), shipyard " Stocznia Gdanska" (investor - Donbas Industrial Union), "Guta Pokui" (investor - "Privat"), lighting equipment works "Helios" (investor - "Iskra"), fruit-processing works TBFruit Dwikozy (investor - TBFruit, owner of "Yablochniy dar" trademark).
Index of Warsaw stock exchange proves the effectiveness of Ukrainian companies in Poland. The total amount of portfolio investments, attracted in the Ukrainian economy by means of Warsaw stock exchange, makes more than one billion dollars. Ukrainian companies quoted on the stock exchange include Kernel, Astarta, Milkiland, Agroton, Sadovaya Group, Agroliga, Industrial Milk Company, KSG Agro, Westa, Coal Energy SA, Ovostar Union and KDM Shipping Public Ltd.
I am glad to report that in March of this year Kernel joined the list of blue-chip companies of Polish market. We also expect other companies with Ukrainian capital to join the Warsaw stock exchange some time soon.
- Is it true that not only Polish invest in Ukraine, but also Ukrainians invest in Poland? What are the numbers?
- According to the State Statistics Service of Ukraine, the amount of Ukrainian investments into Polish economy made $53.3 million as of November 2012. This sum makes 0.8% of the total amount of Ukrainian investments abroad. However, the real amount of Ukrainian investments in Poland, which has not been registered by the Ukrainians Statistics Service for various reasons, exceeds one billion US dollars.
- When Euro-2012 was opened in Warsaw, you told journalists that the championship is a good opportunity for Ukraine to demonstrate its ability to realize big projects. Do you think Europe has noticed Ukraine and its people? Do you believe Europe will deal with us?
- Euro-2012 has become a good opportunity to bust stereotypes about Ukraine. More than four million foreign guests visited Ukraine back then, and the majority of them came back home with an impression that Ukraine is a picturesque, culturally authentic and unexplored country for them, and that they can explore our country safely.
Euro-2012 has also become a good opportunity to demonstrate our economic potential, which definitely will lead to creation of new investment projects. I am sure the situation will change for a great deal better after the signing of Association and FTA agreement.
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