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Zelensky’s visit to Poland and its results

On August 31 and September 1, 2019 Ukrainian President, Volodymyr Zelensky visited Poland. There he participated in commemorative events to mark the 80th anniversary of the bedinning of World War II, and held a number of international meetings. Zelensky also had direct talks with the leaders of Poland, Georgia, Lithuania, Belgium and US Vice President, Mike Pence (US President Donald Trump canceled the visit because of hurricane Dorian and Russian President, Vladimir Putin was not invited to Poland).

Zelensky called his talks with the Polish side a "breakthrough in relations". He agreed with Poland's President, Andrzej Duda to build a joint reconciliation memorial on the border of the two countries and to resolve controversial issues related to history: to unblock permission for the exhumation of the killed Poles in Ukraine, to organize Ukrainian places of memory in Poland. Besides, Zelensky and Duda confirmed inadmissibility of lifting sanctions from the Russian Federation before the return of the Crimea and Donbas to Ukraine, as well as the inadmissibility of the «Nord Stream 2» project. Zelensky voiced Kyiv's interest to the international projects in Warsaw: the Three Seas Initiative, energy cooperation between Ukraine, Poland, and the United States. At a meeting with Polish businessmen, Zelensky said he is "ready to personally protect all investments". In talks with Prime Minister, Mateusz Morawiecki Zelensky urged Poland to invest in Ukraine and to take part in the restoration of the Donbas.

US Vice President, Mike Pence promised Zelensky to continue his support for Ukraine. The President also raised the issue of providing military-technical assistance from Washington to Kyiv. Pence, in turn, recalled the need to continue reforms and fight corruption. Zelensky also discussed his upcoming meeting with the US leader. Zelensky agreed with Georgian President Salome Zurabishvili on mutual visits at the highest level in the near future. They also discussed the coordination of actions of Kyiv and Tbilisi in the framework of cooperation with EU institutions.

Lithuanian President, Gitanas Naus?da invited the President of Ukraine to Vilnius. Zelensky voiced hope for the expansion of Lithuanian investments and gave guarantees of the immutability of Kyiv's course on pro-European reforms. In 2020, Lithuania will host Ukraine Reform Conference. Zelensky also invited Lithuania to participate in the restoration of the infrastructure of Donbas. Belgian Prime Minister, Charles Michel supported Zelensky's efforts to revive the Normandy format of negotiations on the conflict in the Donbas. The key topic of their talks was the fight against corruption in Ukraine. Zelensky assured Michel of his commitment to reforms and expressed hope for investment assistance from Belgium.[1]

Thus, the two-day official visit of the President of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky to the Republic of Poland within participation in memorial actions on the occasion of the 80th anniversary of the beginning of World War II was rather significant and landmark for Ukraine for several reasons. Firstly, the meeting was significant because of its multilateral nature, given the presence of many world leaders in the events. Secondly, the importance of the development of bilateral Ukrainian-Polish relations, which, to put it mildly, are currently not in a very good state. Thirdly, the visit came at the recent end of the transition period of change of power (including the Head of Foreign Service) in Ukraine, which served as a good opportunity to support the old and establish new ties between the representatives of Ukraine and the world.

In general, assessing Zelensky’s visit, as well as the Polish event dedicated to the events of eighty years ago, it should be noted that the first positive moment of the meeting in Warsaw was actually the occasion itself, on which representatives of the world community, including Ukrainian, had the opportunity to meet in the Polish capital, namely — the 80th anniversary of the beginning of the World War II. In the context of the above, it is important that Russian President, Vladimir Putin was not invited to participate in memorial events, he brazenly and cynically violates the world order that exists on our planet in the postwar period, which, in particular, is expressed in Russia's military invasion to such countries as Georgia, Ukraine, Syria, with all its negative consequences. The second positive component of the visit was holding of bilateral meetings with world leaders, among which was the meeting of Volodymyr Zelensky with American Vice President, Mike Pence. The third strategically important point was the visit of Zelensky to Poland as the most consistent partner of Ukraine in international affairs and opposition to Russian aggression. This visit became the final link in Zelensky's construction of a vertical strategic foreign policy vector of Ukraine along the North-South axis.

Summing up all the above, it can be stated that the two-day visit of Volodymyr Zelensky to Warsaw, as well as the memorial events on the occasion of the 80th anniversary of the beginning of the World War II, were an interesting foreign policy event at the turn of the current summer and autumn seasons. This was especially important, given the participation in the events of a large number of representatives from different countries of the world, the need to "break the ice" in relations between Poland and Ukraine and the urgent need for the new Ukrainian authorities to continue and improve the national foreign policy, especially in the context of its pro-Western vector. In general events in Warsaw should be considered quite fruitful for Ukraine, with the establishment of new foundations for the political, economic and energy independence of our state. It often happens that events dedicated to the difficult past become an occasion for building a good future. It is hoped that the Polish visit was just that.[2]

Thus, the visit of the President of Ukraine to Poland can be described as quite saturated and productive. Above all, the Polish and Ukrainian sides have taken the first steps towards the restoration of a full-fledged strategic partnership. Confirmation of the common strategic interests of the two countries was the agreement on exhumation works, the construction of a reconciliation memorial, continuation of the sanctions pressure on Russia and sides agreed to resist the construction of the «Nord Stream 2».

These steps include the signing of a Trilateral Memorandum of Cooperation of liquefied gas. The agreement between Ukraine, Poland and the United States can be historic for the entire Eastern European region – thanks to supplies from the United States, the region for the first time gets rid of gas dependence on Russia. The well-known Polish political scientist Przemys?aw ?urawski Vel Grajewski says: " For Ukraine, this memorandum has another dimension thanks to it you de facto become a member of Crimora, gain access to its projects. Thus, de jure membership is not yet possible – the project was created only for EU members, but Ukraine can take advantage of this Association without formal membership. The optimal scenario would be the emergence of even a limited military contingent of NATO in Ukraine, which should discourage Russia's desire for a full-scale invasion. Even if it is a joint Polish-Lithuanian contingent, reinforced by a small number of soldiers from the United States and possibly Canada and the UK - it will be enough»[3]. Thus, Ukraine should continue to seek common ground with its neighboring country, make compromises, and defend its own national interests.


[3] Нові завдання для Києва та Варшави: погляд із Польщі на відносини з Україною.