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Poland wants good relations with Ukraine, says deputy FM

02.08.2023 15:30
A Polish deputy foreign minister said on Wednesday that his country wanted to have good relations with Ukraine "based on mutual respect and understanding of national interests." 
Paweł Jabłoński
Paweł Jabłoński P. Chmielewski/Polskie Radio

Speaking after a meeting with a Ukrainian diplomat in Warsaw, Paweł Jabłoński declared that Poland wanted to continue supporting Ukraine in its war against Russia's invasion, Polish state news agency PAP reported.

Jabłoński told reporters that his meeting with the Ukrainian chargé d'affaires followed some recent controversial statements made by Ukrainian officials.

"Some of these statements were, in our opinion, inappropriate and unnecessary," Jabłoński said.

"These statements were unnecessarily marked by bad emotions and expressed a position that, in our opinion, is detrimental to good relations," he added, as cited by the PAP news agency.

"Poland wants good relations with Ukraine and these relations - as always in international politics - must be based on the principle of reciprocity, above all on mutual respect and understanding of national interests," Jabłoński also said.

He told reporters that "Poland still wants to support Ukraine," the PAP news agency reported.

"We perceive Russian aggression in Ukraine as a threat to Poland's interests as well," he said.

"At the same time, we expect understanding from the Ukrainian side for our needs and perspectives," he told a media briefing outside the Polish foreign ministry building in Warsaw on Wednesday, as quoted by the PAP news agency.

He told the media that disputed issues between Warsaw and Kyiv included "grain" and the World War II killings of Poles by Ukrainian nationalists known as the Volhynia Massacres.

Some 100,000 ethnic Poles were slaughtered in the 1940s by Ukrainian forces, according to some estimates.

On July 11, 1943, the day of the worst bloodshed, Ukrainian nationalists attacked 100 villages largely inhabited by Poles in what was then Nazi-occupied eastern Poland and is now western Ukraine.

The massacres were part of an operation carried out by the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA), whose plan was to have a sovereign and nationally homogenous Ukraine after the war.

The Volhynia region, which was within Poland's borders prior to World War II, was first occupied by the Soviets in 1939, and then by the Nazi Germans in 1941.

Jabłoński said on Wednesday: "Sometimes it is difficult for us to reach an agreement on some issues. We have been talking about grain and other issues, such as the still unsettled crime of genocide and the exhumation of the victims of the crime committed 80 years ago in Volhynia."

He added that "talks on these and other topics will continue in the spirit of mutual respect and partnership."

He stated: "We hope that Polish-Ukrainian relations will be good despite the fact that sometimes very inappropriate words are spoken publicly, recently on the Ukrainian side. We will work on it and we hope that the Ukrainian side has the same attitude."

Jabłoński told reporters: "We communicated our position to the representative of the Ukrainian embassy. He accepted it and assured us of their readiness to work on strengthening our relations."

Jabłoński and the Ukrainian chargé d'affaires met after the Polish foreign ministry announced the previous day that it had called in Ukraine’s ambassador to Warsaw, Vasyl Zvarych, over statements made by Ukrainian officials.

Ukraine's ambassador to Poland, Vasyl Zvarych. Ukraine's ambassador to Poland, Vasyl Zvarych. Photo: PAP/Mateusz Marek

The ministry said on the X social media platform, formerly known as Twitter, on Tuesday evening: “In connection with statements made by representatives of the Ukrainian authorities, Ukraine’s ambassador to Poland has been invited to the headquarters of the Polish foreign ministry.”

Jabłoński said on Tuesday that Zvarych was in Kyiv for a meeting of ambassadors and so his deputy would meet with Polish officials on Wednesday, while the Ukrainian ambassador would be called in at the earliest possible date.

Jabłoński added that the Polish foreign ministry had invited the Ukrainian ambassador over "statements by Ukraine’s authorities," which Poland believed to be “inappropriate,” as well as in connection with the calling in of the Polish ambassador in Kyiv, Bartosz Cichocki, by Ukraine’s foreign ministry earlier that day.

Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said on the X platform on Tuesday night that the summoning of the Polish ambassador by Ukraine “should not have happened,” the PAP news agency reported.

The Polish prime minister wrote: “The summoning of the Polish ambassador - representative of a country - who was the only one to remain in Kyiv on the day Russia invaded Ukraine, should never have happened.”

Morawiecki added that the war continued and noted the support provided by Poland for Kyiv’s fight against the Russian invasion, the PAP news agency reported.

Morawiecki stated: “We’ll always defend Poland’s good name and its security, and the interests of any other country will never take precedence over the interests of Poland.”

The Polish ambassador had been called in over comments made by the Polish president’s top foreign policy aide, Marcin Przydacz, which Ukraine described as “unacceptable,” according to reports. 

In a media interview on Monday, Przydacz referred to the possible extension of Poland’s ban on the import of Ukrainian agricultural products, and called on Ukraine to show appreciation for Poland’s support of Kyiv’s fight against the Russian invasion, public broadcaster Polish Radio’s IAR news agency reported.

Ukraine’s foreign ministry said that during the meeting with Poland’s ambassador, “it was emphasized" that Przydacz’s "statements about the alleged ingratitude of the Ukrainians for the assistance of the Republic of Poland do not reflect reality and as such are unacceptable.”

Ukraine’s foreign ministry further stated: “We are convinced that the friendship between Ukraine and Poland is far deeper than political pragmatism. Politics should not question the mutual understanding and strength of relations between our peoples. No statements will prevent us from jointly fighting for peace and building a common European future.”

The government in Warsaw said last month that Poland would not open its borders to Ukrainian grain after a European Union ban expires on September 15, but wanted the embargo to be extended at least until the end of the year.

Emotions between Warsaw and Kyiv 'should definitely cool down': Zelensky

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said in a social media post late on Tuesday that emotions between Warsaw and Kyiv "should definitely cool down."

"Ukraine is fighting for its freedom and the freedom of the whole of Europe, and we are grateful to every nation that helps," Zelensky said in a tweet on the X platform.

He added: "We greatly appreciate the historical support of Poland, which together with us has become a real shield of Europe from sea to sea. And there cannot be a single crack in this shield."

"We will not allow any political instants to spoil the relations between the Ukrainian and Polish peoples, and emotions should definitely cool down," Zelensky also tweeted.

"The freedom and well-being of our nations, the values of our Europe and the victory over the common Russian enemy are above all," he added.

Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24, 2022, launching the largest military campaign in Europe since World War II.

Wednesday is day 525 of Russia’s war on Ukraine.


Source: IAR, PAP