Interview with H.E. Marek Szczygiel, the Ambassador of Poland to Romania
What is the significance of May 3rd for Poland?
May 3rd is the Constitution Day, it was a very important date in Polish history when in 1791 our Parliament adopted the Constitution, the first written Constitution in Europe. It was a deliberate attempt more than 200 years ago to fundamentally reform the country. This 3rd May Constitution was inspired to a certain extent by the ideas of enlightment and the French revolution, but our grandfathers at that time were trying to create a modern and democratic state as a constitutional monarchy. We are still very proud of this Constitution, despite the fact that few years later, Poland disappeared from the map of Europe because of the aggression of the neighboring states. But those 18th century experiences left our nation with a strong passion for freedom, democracy and citizens’ rights. Largely due to the efforts of the reformers at that time, we managed to survive as a nation 120 years of foreign domination and in 1918 we reestablished our statehood. This document – the May 3rd Constitution – remains one of the constitutive blocks and cornerstones of our national identity and of Polish statehood. We always refer to this document as a turning point and also as source of pride and inspiration for us. So I think the Polish 3rd May constitution could be also seen as a contribution to the general heritage of the democratic thinking in Europe. It is also the evidence, that in 18th century as well as today we shared the fundamental European values and ideas. It is important to keep in mind exactly 8 years after our accession to the European Union.
Poland and Romania established a bilateral Strategic Partnership few years ago. What is the stage of its implementation?
We made significant progress with the implementation of the strategic partnership and of the declaration since its adoption in 2009. I think it is valid to say that this strategic partnership is unique for our foreign policy because Poland has a very limited number of such formats. This year we further developed our contacts. Warsaw hosted on March 1-2 the first round of the Strategic Dialogue between Polish and Romanian Deputy Foreign and Defence Ministers. We call it a strategic dialogue because it is a platform for regular consultation, exchange of views and coordination, especially regarding the defence and security policies. So this is something that we cherish very much from both sides, Poland and Romania being one of the key-players in Europe in those fields. It is a very important partner for us and we are happy to have many common views in a number of issues, especially the ones related to the current NATO agenda, our participation in ISAF operation in Afghanistan, and also our views on the regional security situation in this part of Europe. We intend to continue this format of cooperation and probably the next session will take place here in Bucharest in the autumn of this year.
But this is only one element, one of the expressions of our strategic partnership which we regularly implement. Just one week ago on the 24th of April we had bilateral consultations on the level of deputy foreign ministers here in Bucharest. These represented the regular opportunity to take stake of the current stage of the implementation of the action plan for the strategic partnership and also discuss some plans for the future. Those plans include, for example, closer cooperation between our NGO’s, think-tanks and representatives of the civil society. This is one of the priorities for the remaining months of this year. Than on the 26th of April prime ministers of our countries D. Tusk and M. R. Ungureanu met in Warsaw on the margins of Central Europe – China summit that we hosted in Poland. This is the record of the most important political contacts of only last 2 months. To sum up – this strategic partnership is multi-layered, so it is taking place on different levels of administration, of civil society, business communities, also local authorities, and has different aspects, different topics from political dialogue to cultural cooperation, civil society, also economic aspects, energy security.
Are there any new bilateral economic projects after the talks between the delegations of Romanian Ministry of Economy and the Polish Ministry of Economy on March 28?
Those were regular consultations and forum for practical dialogue. They served as a platform for planning of areas of cooperation and here our representatives from the Ministry of Economy identified a number of interesting topics namely energy, innovation, bilateral commerce, competitiveness and clusters. Clusters – as a kind of way to assimilate development of small and medium sized enterprises. In the field of energy there were specifically mentioned two issues: exportation of unconventional gas – shale gas, the issue is now discussed also in Romania, and the nuclear energy. In this regard Romania is more advanced as it has already two reactors in Cernavoda while Poland is just at the beginning. We plan to have our first nuclear power plant operational in 2020. So there was quite a big scope for exchange of expertise because in the field of shale gas we are a little bit more advanced – in Poland we issued already more than 100 licenses and we plan to start the production of shale gas from our domestic resources by the end of 2014 or the beginning of 2015.We pay due attention to highest environmental standards, but so far there are no evidences that there could be any harm to the environment produced by the exploration and production of shale gas. From the Polish perspective, the use of shale gas is a very promising element for diversification of our energy supply and the chance to reduce emission of CO2. According to estimations from some recent reports we have significant resources of shale gas that will reduce our dependence on the import and from which could also benefit the energy security of the entire Europe. This is the chance that we would like to use to its full potential. But it is also worth mentioning the very dynamic commercial exchanges between our countries, since last year we registered a record in our bilateral trade – 3.2 bln euros and this was almost 20 per cent more than in 2010. It was one of the highest growths among Polish trade partners and despite the poor economical climate in the European Union, we are happy to see our economic exchange with Romania steadily growing.
As it is already well-known, Poland and Ukraine will host the European Football Championship this summer. How does Poland greet this event?
This is a very important and prestigious event for Poland. I think it’s one of the events that we’ve been waiting for a couple of years and it was a significant decision to organize this event jointly with Ukraine – through this popular issues like football we wanted to promote the cooperation between two neighboring countries. Now there are less than 40 days until the start of the tournament on the 8th of June. We can say with certain pride and satisfaction that we managed to prepare the entire infrastructure and the organizational aspects of this tournament. We constructed four brand new stadiums; they are some of the most modern stadiums in the world. Four Polish cities that are going to host the 15 matches in this tournament – Gdansk, Poznan, Warsaw and Wroclaw – were modernized including the infrastructure, transportation – airports, railways, motorways – so in general the accumulated cost of all the investments that we conducted prior to this tournament is 20 bln euros. Only the stadiums’ costs amounted to 1 bln euros. The stadiums are not built just for the tournament, they will remain to serve our citizens.
We expect up to 1 million visitors just for this tournament and, although Romanian didn’t qualify to this Championship, we invite and encourage the Romanian football fans to come to Poland and join the football fans from Europe in this very exciting event.