Mr. Ambassador Marcin Wilczek, you have already stepped into the third year of your mandate in Romania. How would you assess this lapse of time since you’ve been serving as your country’s Ambassador to Bucharest?
Firstly I would like to underline that time passes very fast in Bucharest!
The main goal of my term was quite straightforward: to strengthen even further the relations between Romania and Poland within the framework of the EU and NATO. There are many areas where we strongly agree. Poland and Romania share same political interests within the EU and NATO and face similar opportunities and threats, all of which make us close allies and friends. This in turn translates into many bilateral senior visits in both directions, as well as interest of Romanian local administration to host me in Romanian regions. Just to give several examples: in November 2015 President Andrzej Duda was in Bucharest, in August 2016 Prime Minister Beata Szydło paid a working visit to Suceava. In November 2016 Minister of Foreign Affairs Witold Waszczykowski participated in the CEE Foreign Ministers meeting in Bucharest. In April we hosted in Bucharest the Polish Minister of Defence Antoni Macierewicz. Similarly, the Romanian high level officials frequently pay visit to Poland – during my mission President Klaus Iohannis visited us already twice.
We have to remember that Poland and Romania have Strategic Partnership dating from 2009 that was renewed at the beginning of my term in Bucharest in 2015. The implementing Action Plan provides for cooperation in many fields from security to transport.
Our countries are witnessing a steadily increasing volume and quality of contacts also between our business, academic, arts and culture communities. All of this has made my mission here both productive and rewarding.
What is the domain of bilateral cooperation that registered the most important progress since you took office?
Ever since I took office in 2015 our Polish-Romanian relationship was given a fresh impetus by new political initiatives, namely the Bucharest Nine group meetings and the Three Seas initiative. The nine-party format of consultations on security issues in our region is extremely important to have a common understanding and approach to shared challenges ahead. The second one – the Three Seas initiative with its successful Warsaw Summit last July – helped us build a unique and vital connection between all twelve participating Central European countries, which – to quote president Andrzej Duda – “very well understand their situation, including in economic terms”. Next year we look forward to the Three Seas Summit in Bucharest and its results in terms of concrete projects modernizing infrastructure in the eastern part of the EU.
How would you describe your cooperation and dialogue with Romanian authorities, on topics of major interest for the bilateral plane but also for common Europe?
We regularly consult in many fields that are of interest for both countries: future of the EU, securing rights of our citizens after Brexit, EU enlargement policy in the Western Balkans and EU neighborhood policy, especially the Eastern Partnership with our Eastern European neighbors.
We are currently in the build-up to commemorating the 10th anniversary of signing of the strategic partnership between Poland and Romania. It is a working and developing fast strategic partnership that allowed our relations maintain a high level priority. Interestingly, in 2019 we will also celebrate 100 years of the establishment of the diplomatic relations.
What can be done in your opinion, by both sides in order to boost the economic cooperation between Poland in Romania and also the investments level of Polish companies here and of Romanian companies in Poland, which is still far below the real potential of the two countries?
We should keep on building on the existing interests and successes. Both our countries enjoy steady and stable economic growth which works to our benefit.
My priority task in Romania has been to help encourage more Polish businesses to take advantage of the opportunities offered by Romania and also to help it on its path towards economic development in the future. It is impressive to see how our bilateral economic cooperation is steadily expanding, with Romanian companies showing more and more interest in investing in the Polish market. I see that Romania has real potential to establish itself as a hub to neighbors and the wider region and I am glad to see many Polish companies playing an important role here – I am glad to approach 1000th company registered in Romania. Now we look forward to more and more Romanian companies investing in Poland.
What are the most notable actions in the past year in the cultural field organized by the Polish Embassy in Bucharest and by the Polish Institute in order to build new cultural and friendship bridges?
This year we have undertaken many initiatives to commemorate the tight and strong relations between Romania and Marshal Józef Piłsudski, the first leader of the reborn Polish State. Piłsudski played a major role in bringing Poland back onto the maps of Europe. And he was a great friend of Romania and the Romanian royal family. The agreements, the alliance treaties and a number of his visits to Romania confirm your country’s role and significance for the Polish foreign policy in the interwar period. Did you know that, interestingly, Bucharest is the second capital after Rome that hosts a monument of Marshal Piłsudski?
We have also been actively promoting best Polish jazz, presented at festivals in Cluj Napoca, Timisoara and Sibiu. The legendary Polish trumpeter Tomasz Stańko performed at the Gărâna Jazz Festival. Best Polish films have been shown in a range of film festivals throughout Romania. In a recent Astra Film Festival in Sibiu we had three Polish films awarded. You can see some of best Polish films at the upcoming CinePolska festival of Polish films, between 17-19th and 24-26th November in Elvire Popesco cinema in Bucharest.
Culture is an important bridge that links our countries and societies. A very charged program of activities of the Bucharest based Polish Institute confirms it.
Photo: Agata Steifer/Centrum Nauki Kopernik