• Faithful to my Homeland, the Republic of Poland



  • I would correct the historical narrative and cite the facts: the USSR was a great contributor to the outbreak of World War II, it fought against Germany once it became a victim of aggression – this is how Polish Foreign Minister Witold Waszczykowski responded to the comments made by the Russian ambassador, that Poland exists today thanks to Russian soldiers.

    Referring to the removal of the Red Army monuments in Poland in an interview with Rzeczpospolita, the Russian Ambassador to Poland Sergei Andreyev, said that "the amendment of the decommunisation act does not directly refer to the monuments of the Soviet soldiers, rather it relates in general to the prohibition of the propagation of the totalitarian system."

    "It is therefore enough to recognize that these monuments are not communism propaganda, but rather an act of gratitude to the fallen soldiers thanks to whom Poland still exists," the Russian ambassador said.

    Asked whether Poland would not exist today without these soldiers, he replied: “Of course. 600,000 Soviet soldiers died in the liberation of Poland in its current borders, 55 per cent of all human casualties of the Red Army in Europe outside the 1945 borders of USSR. So more of our soldiers died during that time in Poland than were killed in Germany and in all other European countries combined."

    "I would correct this historical narrative, because it is impossible to start the history of Polish-Soviet and Polish-Russian relations in 1945, from the liberation from German occupation. One has to therefore remember that the Soviet Union was a great contributor to the outbreak of World War II and together with the Germans invaded Poland and is therefore co-responsible for the outbreak of World War II,” the head of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said on Thursday on the Internet television platform of 

    Minister Waszczykowski added that the Soviet Union "fought the Germans, and it was also fighting in his own interest, because after a few years it became a victim of German aggression." 

    "I would start by correcting this narrative, by citing the facts," the minister said.

    In the interview with Rzeczpospolita the Russian ambassador also said that since the 1994 Polish-Russian agreement on graves and memorial sites, "nobody objected to the inviolability" of the monuments of the Red Army.

    "Whenever we got in touch the Polish Council for the Protection of the Memory of Struggle and Martyrdom took the necessary steps to keep the monuments of the Red Army in good order. In 2014 everything suddenly changed. It turned out that apart from cemeteries these statues are a symbol of something reprehensible. Why? Where is this stated in the 1994 agreement?” Andrejev said. 

    Referring to this issue, the head of the Foreign Ministry stressed that international agreements concern the protection of cemeteries, places where Soviet soldiers and officers are buried.

    “And we are committed and care for this. On the other hand, the so-called memorials of gratitude - as the ambassador says – were put up here and there by the local authorities of cities, villages, (these monuments) are not protected by any international agreement and their maintenance depends on the decision of the local authorities. And not the leadership of the Polish state,” Minister Waszczykowski said. 

    He added that whether "monuments or red stars on squares or plaques commemorating those events from the World War II” remain, that is the decision of the local authorities.

    The recent amendment of the bill on the prohibition of propagating communist propaganda, adopted in April 2016, governs the issue of the removal of non-utilitarian structures, such as monuments glorifying the totalitarian regime. The provisions of the legislation on the prohibition of propagating communism do not apply to monuments not visible to the public, located in cemeteries or other places of rest.

    Asked whether a meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is possible, Waszczykowski replied: "Everything is possible in diplomacy."

    "Minister Lavrov sent me a congratulatory letter after Poland was elected to the United Nations Security Council for 2018-2019. He proposed consultations between our ministers. Such consultations have already taken place on the deputy minister level. I think the next step would a meeting, for example in New York in September on the occasion of the UN General Assembly to discuss this cooperation within the UN. Russia is a permanent member of the Security Council and we will interact with each other for two years,” the head of Poland’s MFA said. 

    At the beginning of June the Polish Foreign Ministry announced that the head of Russian diplomacy congratulated Poland on its election to the UN Security Council and expressed its willingness to work constructively with Poland and hoped it would have a positive impact on relations.

    At the end of July, Polish-Russian consultations took place on issues related to the UN Security Council; the initiator of the consultations was the Russian side, and one of the topics discussed included possibilities of possible cooperation between Poland and Russia in the Council.

    Asked on Thursday about the critical comments from opposition politicians stating that the current ruling party is pro-Russian, the head of the Foreign Ministry said: "This is progress, because last year we were accused of embracing Belarus, today that we are going towards Russia."

    "It is some sort of stunt to accuse the party and the PiS government, which puts great emphasis on the security of Poland, which very strongly stressed that Poland and our part of Europe is threatened by Russian imperialism, which has demanded an anti-missile shield for years, and so on, now accusing us of being pro-Russian - it's a dubious operation, but I know that it's a journalistic and rhetorical procedure that is supposed to convince the public,” Minister Waszczykowski said. 

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