DIPLOMACY SUPPLEMENTS

His Excellency Mr. Marcin Wilczek, Ambassador of the Polish Republic in Romania: ‘We have a strategic partnership and we are important partners and allies in EU and NATO’

– Your Excellency, well over half a year has passed since you were assigned to the post of Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Poland to Romania. You have been very dynamic, you have gotten to know many political and social circles and you have already visited many parts of our country. What is your feeling toward what is going on in Romania?

 

– As you know, I came to Romania in early September last year so I was trying to accommodate myself here and I must tell you I was, first of all, very impressed by Bucharest itself and secondly by the dynamism of Romania and by the economic performance of Romania. So, the situation I discovered here is the situation of a big country with a dynamic economy, with good prospects for the future. And the recent data published by the EU are showing that Romania is going to grow and this growth is not going to be a short-lived one. As for the other things, being a foreign diplomat, an election year is always a very demanding and also challenging and interesting period. So, in fact, the local elections and the parliamentary elections are also teaching me a lot about the dynamic of Romanian politics. So it’s a fascinating period, in fact.

 

– Did you have time to visit Bucharest or other Romanian cities?

 

– When I came to Romania I was well received by my friends and my children’s friends, so they started to flock to Romania because they realised it’s an opportunity to visit Romania together with someone who lives there. So we had several visits of our friends and our children’s friends. Also, together with them we were able to go around Bucharest and to discover how big and rich the history of the city is and also how comfortable and nice is the current way of being an inhabitant of the capital of Romania. We are enjoying the bike rides, the parks, the restaurants and my children are discovering fashionable night clubs. I have a lot of warm impressions and warm feelings towards our life here.

 

– We know you picture better bilateral collaboration. What would be the most significant elements that have to be developed or consolidated in the relations between Poland and Romania?

 

– It’s very difficult to tell because the relations between our countries are in a very good shape. We have a strategic partnership, we are important partners and allies in EU and NATO so, on the political level, there is a need to consolidate this good cooperation. As far as the economic area is concerned, the Polish companies are very well placed and present in Romania, the biggest country in the region that is serving as a centre for the whole actions in the whole region, as a hub for the operations in the region and the Polish investors coming here, buying plants and also building plants, are also a sign of confidence and trust in the future of Romania. I think that the thing that should be improved is the infrastructure between our countries, especially railway infrastructure. This is of utmost importance. The current Polish government is putting a lot of emphasis on building the Via Carpatia, which is the road connecting the North of Europe and the East of Europe, so this is something that is very close to our hearts and the quality of the links between Poland and Romania is developing. At the end of March, Polish airlines opened direct flights from Cluj directly to Warsaw and there are flights from Bucharest as well, so we have to compliment that with better roads network and train transportation network. And, by the way, it’s interesting to mention that Bucharest was the first international airport to be linked with Warsaw before the war for the Polish Airlines. This shows that this historical tendency and this historical link that is between us is stronger than ever.

 

‘I am planning, together with my family, a long journey through Romania this summer’

 

– How do you perceive Romanian society to be: tolerant and open or conservative and hermetical?

 

– I was impressed with the fact that in your Parliament you have eighteen guaranteed members of minorities, who are members of the Parliament. I think that is the best illustration of the way the Romanians see people who are living in this country and are not Romanians. So this is a very important element. In the places I have travelled to, not officially but as a tourist, I always had a very warm welcome and openness and people were very friendly, so I look forward to knowing Romania better in the next three and a half years. I am planning, together with my family, a long journey through Romania this summer, and I am already buying new books about Romania and maps and I am spending a lot of time trying to devise the route.

 

– Maybe you will tell us your impressions about the country and about Romanian society after this long trip.

 

– With pleasure. I was able to go to Cluj, to Targoviste, Craiova… Craiova was the seat of the Polish government in exile, in 1939 (at Jean Mihail Palace, today the Art Museum – n.r.), an illustration of the links between our countries that exist today. I was very impressed by the architecture, by the heritage, so I am very happy to have this trip into perspective.

 

– But, as you said, we have a big problem with the infrastructure, so you have to expect some bad roads…

 

– We had similar problem in Poland…

 

– And how did you solve it?

 

– It was a mixture of strategic planning regarding the roads, plus European funds, plus the determination of Polish institutions and Polish governments. You cannot achieve this within the mandate of just one government. I think that an important element for this success was the UEFA Euro 2012, an worldwide important event so the international pressure made us be very effective.

 

– So I think we need such a big event as well…

 

– I think it definitely helps. It helped us. And then, when you learn how to do it, the next stages are easier.

 

– Polish authorities have recently reiterated their rejection of refugee quotas as calculated in Brussels. A survey shows that our country’s citizens are not very thrilled with the setting up of refugee camps. Can you make a brief analysis on this topic?

 

– I think there is a big misunderstanding of this issue. Who are these refugees?… Where are they coming from?… But setting quotas for anyone who is coming is not a solution. Because you will always have more people interested in coming to a stable, prosperous European Union. Many of those who are coming know that their standards of living will be much better. We are not able to provide them with such standards and they know that. So they are not going to Poland or Romania, they are going to richer countries. And if there is a mechanism by which they are obliged to stay in one country, how can we manage thousands of people who don’t want to stay in Poland?

 

– The consolidation of the North Atlantic Alliance’s Eastern flank is a common denominator of the Romanian and Polish authorities’ policy. In this context, how do you appraise the collaboration between our countries?

 

– Our geopolitical positions are very similar and we have similar concerns about our position in the region, especially on the eastern flank of NATO so our cooperation is very strong and a very fruitful one. Also, we have very good allies in NATO.

 

‘Poland had the first written Constitution in Europe’

 

– Your Excellency, both in Bucharest and in Warsaw there is a lot of talk about energy and the national and European energy strategies. We noticed the determination of the Polish authorities to create, through the unification of several economic entities, the largest coal company in the European Union. In Romania, there is a rather anti-coal current so to put it. Is not the continued support offered to the coal industry, under various forms, contrary to the stipulations of the COP21 Treaty?

 

– Poland is a country that is blessed with coal. This is our source of cheap energy, which guaranties our independence and is an important element of our industry. We understand the problems of climate change but at the same time it must be taken into consideration that Poland has reduced its emissions compared to 1988 by more than 34%. Our contribution is already huge. On the other hand, we have to think of using coal in a way that won’t generate more emissions and also we have to take some other measures of reducing the emissions. One of them, which was also included in the document, is forestation – more forests. It’s a natural way of capturing the emissions and Poland has in its plans to pass from 27% of the total area of forests compared to the area of the country to 30%. But for a considerable period of time coal will remain an important element of Poland’s energy sector. You are blessed with oil, you have your nuclear plant, we don’t have oil… yet… and we don’t have any nuclear plant, so we are dependent on coal but we also opened the LNG terminal so we are working on that, but definitely coal will remain an important element.

 

– This year, the Polish Republic and the Polish people are celebrating 225 years since the adoption, in 1791, of the First Constitution. Tell our readers a few words about this. Thank you.

 

– First of all, it was the first written Constitution in Europe. It was adopted on May 3, 1791. It was a result of the fascination with the Enlightenment in Western Europe and it was the second Constitution in the world after the American one. It recognised that the Government must serve its people, which was very new and very revolutionary at that time. The document consisted of eleven articles, the first which defined the Roman-Catholic religion as being the dominant one and also granted the liberty of other religions, there was a division of power between legislative, executive and judicial, and it was a modern document which was adopted at the initiative of king Stanisław August Poniatowski and it was a great step for Poland towards modernity and it also helped us survive during the more than a hundred years of partition and consolidated the Polish nation.

 

– What are your plans in the near future?

 

– First of all I would like to get to know Romania better, so I plan to visit it. We are also organising some conferences concerning and sharing our experience with our friends and colleagues in Romania. So, I plan to go to Cluj this month, I plan to visit Craiova and otherwise Bucharest is so active and lively that I have a lot of things to do here. So, together with my colleagues from EU and also with the Polish business people we are going to have a lot of work to do.

 

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