Poland and Russia seal bilateral relations roadmap
December 20, 2013
Polish and Russian Foreign Ministers Radoslaw Sikorski and Sergei Lavrov
The Polish and Russian Foreign Ministers Radoslaw Sikorski and Sergei Lavrov Thursday in Warsaw signed a "Program 2020 in Polish-Russian relations" outlining priorities and cooperation directions for relations between both countries until 2020.
At a joint press conference with Lavrov, Sikorski said that Russia is Poland's important neighbor and business partner and added that relations between Polish and Russian societies, companies and governments are better than presented in the media in both countries.
"Our social, regional and commercial relations are better than media reports would suggest," Sikorski said.
The ministers signed agreements on boosting political, economic, scientific and cultural ties between Poland and Russia including an agreement on cooperation in the international arena.
"We decided to pursue activity at the United Nations, the OSCE, the Council of Europe (...) but also to reinforce effectiveness and trust at the heart of the NATO-Russia council," Lavrov said, adding he hoped the agreement would "bring a new quality" to bilateral ties.
The two ministers held talks that included discussion of Ukraine, which has recently rejected an EU pact under pressure from Russia which offered its neighbor a USD 15 billion bailout package and a cut in gas prices.
"This is our closest neighbor and most brotherly nation," Lavrov said, adding that any decision by the Ukrainian government to eventually sign trade and other deals with Brussels would be respected by the Kremlin.
Sikorski acknowledged it was up to Ukraine to decide whether it wanted to pursue an association agreement with the EU.
Minister Sikorski said that Russia is the fifth largest export market and the second largest source of imports for Poland. "According to our statistics, bilateral trade stood at USD 37.9 billion and increased 13% over the first three quarters of this year on an annual comparison”.
Poland’s foreign minister also said that at the EU forum Poland constantly supports visa liberalization for eastern European countries including Russia. The cross-border traffic agreement between Poland and Russia is a clear success, he said.
Minister Lavrov said that despite "some shortcomings," the advantages of the cross-border traffic program are indisputable
The Russian foreign minister also said that Moscow aims to create a favorable environment for the operation of Russian companies in Poland and Polish companies in Russia. "We will support the expansion of the trade structure, particularly technologically-advanced manufacturing. Lavrov said.
Sikorski also said that, he had once again urged Russia to return the wreckage of the Polish presidential plane that crashed near Smolensk in western Russia on April 10, 2010, killing President Lech Kaczynski and 95 others on board, including then Polish President Lech Kaczynski.
Lavrov said that the wreckage will be returned to Poland when the Russian investigation is completed, possibly in April 2014.