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    “Poland has the densest network of consulates and commercial ties with Ukraine of any EU member,” writes David McQuaid, Bloomberg’s correspondent to Poland. “Both the EU ambassador to Kiev, Jan Tombinski, and the head of the OSCE observer’s mission to Ukraine, Adam Kobieracki, are Poles. The two languages are so similar that Polish television often interviews Ukrainians without translation,” writes the author, emphasising the close relationships between Poland and Ukraine. He also recalls that Poland was the first country to recognize Ukraine’s independence in December 1991.


    Important Player


    “Poland is emerging as a very important foreign-policy player in the EU for Russia and Ukraine – reads the article. „Border incidents, endangered minorities, rigged elections, annexations and abandonment by allies are from a playbook Poles know by heart. That history is guiding Poland’s actions in Europe's worst diplomatic crisis since the Cold War, according to Tusk.” McQuaid writes that our “country of 38 million is taking center stage in EU policy making for the first time since joining the bloc a decade ago.” The journalist recalls that in February, Polish Foreign Minister Radosław Sikorski joined his German and French counterparts to broker a deal between Ukrainian authorities and the opposition, and at an EU summit last month, Tusk successfully led a drive by eastern European leaders for tougher sanctions on Russia. “All-night talks led to a peace deal to end the street battles that killed more than 100 people in Ukraine’s capital,” recalls McQuaid. Pressure from Tusk and Sikorski drew a pledge from EU foreign ministers that Ukraine’s association agreement is not the “final goal.” EU Enlargement Commissioner Štefan Füle told Die Welt newspaper on March 18 that the bloc should use enlargement as “its strongest instrument” for change in eastern Europe.


    Poland’s Chance


    ”The Ukrainian conflict escalating on his doorstep, Tusk seized the opportunity to position his country at the hub of diplomatic activity,” says McQuaid, citing the role of the Weimar Triangle. “Tusk is leading the push for closer ties between the 28-nation bloc and former Soviet republics”, he writes. At the same time he notes that the situation in Crimea is an opportunity for Poland to plug the gaps in its security: Poles want to restore NATO as a military deterrent by getting it to redeploy some forces east.


    Market Incentive


    “After the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, most former Warsaw Pact nations, including Ukraine and Poland, had GDP per capita of about $5,000. While Poland has more than quadrupled its wealth since, Ukraine’s has risen to just $7,000,” explains the author. “Poland’s credibility has been boosted by its EU-leading economic growth of 3.1 percent a year on average since 2008,” he says and cites the WIG stock index, which has gained 120 percent in the decade since EU entry. McQuaid claims that “History also tells Poles that Ukraine may face a tougher battle to reform its economy than Poland did in the early 1990s.” “Sikorski has repeatedly warned that the country could expect no outside funding before tackling its corruption problem, which is the worst in Europe, according to Transparency International,” he notes.



    Source:  Tusk to Ditch 350-Year-Old Ukraine Script in Polish Push, David McQuaid, Bloomberg, 3 April 2014.



    Tags: Poland

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