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The Warsaw Voice » Other » May 14, 2008
UKRAINE IN POLAND
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Ukraine Belongs in Europe
May 14, 2008   
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Olexander Motsyk, ambassador of Ukraine to Poland, talks to Ewa Hancock.

What role does Ukraine aspire to play in Europe?
Ukraine definitely belongs in Europe and its natural location is among European nations. Therefore, we are doing our best to become a formal member of the European community. And that is the aim of Ukrainian society and our key political parties.

In practical terms, we are negotiating an agreement with the European Commission. In our view, this document should lay the groundwork for the political association and economic integration of Ukraine with the EU. We are aware that this document will have a clear provision about Ukraine's European prospects and will be an European agreement of association.

Our country has decided that there is no alternative to full membership in a common Europe. And I am fully confident that in the short term we can manage to work out with our European partners models of gradual integration aimed at Ukrainian membership of the EU.

What is the role of Polish-Ukrainian relations in your country's European aspirations?
First of all, bilateral relations between Ukraine and Poland are considered to be one of the ways of enhancing our country's European integration. It is not a secret that Poland is a great promoter of Ukrainian membership in the EU and supports this idea whenever possible.

Together we have established institutions of intergovernmental cooperation in European affairs. These include the Permanent Ukrainian-Polish Conference on European integration, whose 10th meeting was held on March 10. Recently the prime ministers of Poland and Ukraine signed a Protocol of Intention on the creation of a European integration coordination branch in Ukraine. This document gives us a wide range of opportunities to learn in detail about Poland's experience on the road to the EU, as well as opportunities to train specialists in European affairs.

We very much appreciate such assistance and are grateful to our Polish partners. I am happy that Ukraine can always count on Poland and vice-versa.

Moreover, I am personally convinced that in the future Ukraine and Poland will play the role of a "second engine of Europe," like Germany and France do nowadays. Our joint potential is very competitive within European structures, and our time to work for Europe is coming.

To what extent does this project involve Poland and Ukraine's joint organization of the Euro 2012 European soccer championships?
Euro 2012 is a great opportunity for both our countries and for all of Europe. In particular, Ukraine considers this championship to be a practical exercise in European integration, which could bring us closer to the European Union. There are different ways in which Ukraine's aspirations could be facilitated through Euro 2012-starting from infrastructure development to applying for a visa-free regime with Europe.

Ukraine and Poland are working really hard and doing their best to prepare themselves for Euro 2012 as well as possible. Recently, we signed an intergovernmental agreement on cooperation in this area. All the host cities had previously established direct contacts and are working together very intensely.

What has been the greatest achievement in Polish-Ukrainian relations since you became ambassador to Poland?
It's hard to mention any particular achievement, because all the matters we are dealing with are very important. The results are relatively good. I would say I am satisfied.

But if I were to speak about concrete achievements in bilateral relations, a couple of basic things should be pointed out.

First of all, bilateral relations have significantly intensified. As you know when people often meet each other and talk in a friendly and open manner, they learn about each other much better and can resolve problems.

The volume of trade and investments between Ukraine and Poland has been permanently growing. That is also an achievement and a reason to be satisfied.

We are doing our best in the process of reconciliation. In recent years joint commemorations have been held at the highest level with the participation of both countries' presidents. Such sensitive issues have a potential impact on public opinion. The constructive and positive attitudes of both sides help maintain and strengthen mutual understanding between our nations.

Do you travel a lot in Poland? What is your favorite hangout here?
Frequent official trips are part of an ambassador's work. Usually, these are trips from one meeting to another, but even under these circumstances it would be hard not to notice the beauty of Poland. I have been to Cracow and Szczecin, Chełm and Legnica, Górowo Iławeckie and ŁódĽ. I have seen the industrial potential of Poznań and the spiritual dimension of Częstochowa, where I visited the largest Ukrainian project in Poland, the Częstochowa Steelworks. I felt captivated by the beauty of the Jasna Góra shrine with its Blessed Virgin Mary of Częstochowa icon, which is well known to Ukrainians. I have also visited the host cities of Euro 2012. I am enchanted by the Mazuria Lake District and the Bieszczady Mountains. Whenever I come to a new region, I do my best to learn at least the basic facts about its history. I am fascinated with our historical affinity, which dates back centuries.

During my term as ambassador, I have spent two New Year's Eves in Poland with my family and friends. The first time around we were in Szczyrk and the next year we were in Krynica.

Like Ukraine, Poland abounds in beautiful places of tourist interest and recreational sites that are worth visiting at any time of the year.
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