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Paweł Zalewski

The Year 2013: The Key to the European Integration of Ukraine

“Regarding the European integration process, Ukraine is used to taking two steps forward and one back. On the threshold of the Eastern Partnership summit in November 2013, we expect from Ukraine concrete projects on modernization. Poland continues to be the main ambassador of Kiev in the EU, so it is extremely important to resolve all the issues between our countries”. Polish Member of the European Parliament Pawel Zalewski comments upon Ukraine’s relations with the European Union and Poland.

Paweł Zalewski Forum Polsko-Ukraińskie, źródło: pawelzalewski.eu

Pawel Zalewski at the Polish-Ukrainian forum, source: pawelzalewski.eu

At the last EU-Ukraine summit, both sides confirmed their desire to sign the association agreement before the November summit of the Eastern Partnership in Vilnius. The good news brought satisfaction. Ukraine realises that to do this, it should undertake swift and decisive actions, and make a tangible difference in accordance with the conclusions adopted by the Council of the European Union on December 10, 2012. At the same time, this is an important sign of the fact that the main Ukrainian political forces have been united in striving to achieve European goals, that is also proved by the adoption of the statement on “The Implementation of Ukraine’s aspirations for European integration and the signing of the Association Agreement between Ukraine and the European Union” by the constitutional majority of the Verkhovna Rada

The summit decisions and joint statement on the adoption of the principle of solidarity in the energy policy are, in their turn, an evidence of the importance of Ukrainian gas transport system for the EU member states. Now we can expect launching of specific projects on modernization. I believe that the international financial institutions must take into account the decisions made at the summit. In the end, the EU has already set an example by providing EUR 610 million of macro-financial assistance to Ukraine.

The last but not least, the issue which deserves our attention is citizens’ mobility and abolition of the visa regime for Ukrainians. Fortunately, at the summit we allocated a lot of time to these issues. Ukraine should make quick progress in the implementation of the first phase of the Action Plan on Visa Liberalisation (VLAP) and go over to the second one.

Unfortunately, Ukraine took the strategy of moving two steps forward, and a step back. An example of this is totally incomprehensible fate of the deputy of the Verkhovna Rada Sergey Vlasenko, who is Yulia Tymoshenko’s defender. The action was taken in spite of the warnings of the EU and United States.

Poland remains the main ambassador of Ukraine in the European integration process, so our bilateral relationship is very important. We want Ukraine to remain our important ally also after the signing of the Association Agreement. Even before this event, we should strengthen the ties between our two countries and clear up all the controversial issues. That was the purpose of the Polish-Ukrainian Partnership Forum, the last meeting of which was held in late February in Warsaw, which I attended as its co-chairman.

During the forum, we have discussed a very important thing – that we have the right to the truth, and hereupon we have the right to the memory. The right to the commemoration of victims, who still require commemoration. In no way we blame Ukrainian people for the events that took place in Volyn during the World War Two. We do not apply the principle of collective responsibility. We condemn the crime, not the people. This is a very big difference.

We want to consider the facts and listen to the views of Polish and Ukrainian societies, as well as historians. The Polish-Ukrainian Partnership Forum supports the initiative to commemorate the Ukrainians who, during the tragic events in Volyn, risked their lives saving Poles. They live in the depths of our hearts and we deeply bow before them. This is our duty. The most important thing is preventing the problem of the genocide of Poles in Volyn from becoming a hostage of politics, either in Ukraine or Poland. The most important is reconciliation between the two nations at the societies’ level. Therefore, I appeal to all those people with their goodwill, who are involved in the Polish-Ukrainian dialogue and will be engaged in perpetuating the memory of the genocide in Volyn this year, to lead the discussion in the spirit of healing the wounds, not rubbing salt into them.

Translated by MA

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Paweł Zalewski (1964) poseł do Parlamentu Europejskiego, wiceprzewodniczący Komisji Handlu Międzynarodowego PE, absolwent historii na Uniwersytecie Warszawskim, działacz NZS, w latach 1989-91 doradca Ministra Edukacji Narodowej, związany ze środowiskami konserwatystów, poseł na Sejm I, V i VI kadencji, przewodniczący Komisji Spraw Zagranicznych Sejmu RP, zaangażowany na rzecz zbliżenia Ukrainy do UE. W 2011 r. zajął 5. miejsce w prestiżowym rankingu TOP 10 lobbystów Ukrainy na świecie, sporządzonym przez kijowski Instytut Polityki Światowej, w oparciu o opinie 50-ciu niezależnych ekspertów międzynarodowych i ukraińskich. Od 24 stycznia 2013 r. współprzewodniczący Polsko-Ukraińskiego Forum Partnerstwa.

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