Security issues should become a priority for the further development of relations between Ukraine and Poland, especially given Russia’s recent aggression in the waters of the Kerch Strait. This is one of the main notions expressed during the IX Ukraine-Poland Forum held in Warsaw by the Stefan Batory Foundation and the International Renaissance Foundation on November 28-29, 2018.
The New Europe Center was represented by the Head of the Supervisory Board Olena Betliy and the First Deputy Director Sergiy Solodkyy.
Most remarks made during the open part of the forum concerned Russia’s aggression against Ukraine in the Black Sea. Participants generally welcomed the rapid reaction of Poland to the events of November 25, since the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of this country was in constant contact with the Ukrainian Ambassador; the support of the Polish representative at the UN Security Council meeting was also clear.
Advisor to the Executive Director of the International Renaissance Foundation Taras Kachka emphasized that Ukraine and Poland should develop a joint strategy for countering Russia. Nadiya Koval, Head of the Center for International Studies of the Hennadiy Udovenko Diplomatic Academy of Ukraine at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine, stressed the importance of information security: Russia is currently trying to change the emphasis and display the aggression of November 25 as a mere border incident, while shifting attention to the domestic political situation in Ukraine.
Meanwhile, the representative of the Batory Foundation, former Ambassador of Poland to Russia, Katarzyna Pelczynska-Nalecz, expressed her critical attitude to Warsaw’s response. In her opinion, statements (no matter how resolute and timely they were) are not enough.
“It is about enlargement of the territory of Russia. This is not just any border conflict, it is an extension of the occupation zone. Russia is testing the West’s reaction: if it acts with caution or without due attention, it will open a way forward for Russia,” she stated.
She also stressed that cooperation in the security sphere requires trust, which is currently lacking between Ukraine and Poland at the highest level. The main reason is the controversy surrounding the tragic pages of common history.
In turn, Taras Kachka noted that in the bilateral relations, there are examples of the formation of a positive historical narrative: for instance, on November 29, the Kyiv City Council decided to rename one of the capital’s streets after Jerzy Giedroyc, prominent Polish publicist and public figure, and an active supporter of Ukrainian-Polish cooperation.
The International Renaissance Foundation has long maintained a dialogue with numerous experts and facilitated direct communication and cooperation between experts and opinion leaders from Ukraine and the major countries of the European Union. The Ukraine-Poland Forum, founded in 2012, brings together politicians, experts, civic activists, and opinion leaders of the two countries to discuss bilateral relations, internal situations in both countries, as well as international politics, and regional and global challenges. Analysts of the New Europe Center are actively involved in such initiatives supported by the Foundation.