PM Modi’s ‘not an era of war’ message had a global echo: Poland ambassador
Polish ambassador Adam Burakowski said the Indian initiative to end Ukraine war is highly appreciated though Russia is still unwilling to listen to such voices
India’s initiative to end the war in Ukraine is “highly appreciated” though Russia is “unwilling to listen to such voices”, and Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s efforts will strengthen cooperation among democratic nations, Polish ambassador Adam Burakowski has said.
The recent “sabotage of the Nord Stream pipelines” should be seen in the “context of the Russian war and (President Vladimir) Putin’s determination to achieve success”, Burakowski said in an exclusive interview.
Q. As an immediate neighbour of Ukraine, what is the current situation in Poland with regard to refugees and assistance for the Ukrainian government?
A. Poland has been at the forefront of countries providing humanitarian and military help to Ukraine since the very beginning of the war. We have also welcomed millions of refugees fleeing the conflict. Since February 24, 6.81 million people have come to Poland from Ukraine, 90% of them are women and children. Over 1.23 million personal identification numbers have been issued to Ukrainian refugees planning a long-term stay in Poland. Through public help, which may amount to €3.37 billion in 2022, refugees have access to benefits, social assistance and public services – especially healthcare and education. With public help equivalent to 0.5% of Polish GDP, Poland ranks third among European countries providing the most bilateral aid to Ukraine as a share of their own GDP. The value of military equipment donated by Poland to Ukraine has exceeded €1.48 billion. Despite its relative size, Poland has provided Ukraine with more tanks and armoured personnel carriers than France and Germany combined. Poland and Polish entrepreneurs will also contribute to rebuilding Ukraine.
Q. What do you make of the Indian Prime Minister’s recent calls to both Russia and Ukraine to end the war and the offer of support for peace efforts?
A. It is important that Russia hears calls to end this war from multiple directions. Indian initiative is highly appreciated – the words of Prime Minister Narendra Modi that “today’s era is not of war” had a global echo. Unfortunately, Russia is still unwilling to listen to such voices.
We also welcome the last telephone conversation between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. On its back, cooperation among peaceful and democratic countries shall be strengthened.
Q. How is Poland coping with energy security? What are your views on the recent incident involving the Nord Stream pipelines, which Poland’s leadership has described as sabotage?
A. Poland is a good example of a European country that has made big progress when it comes to diversification of energy supplies. For the last 10 years, Poland has been working to achieve energy independence from Russia. Since the Russian invasion of Ukraine, we have started to look for new sources of supply of coal deliveries. We are also working on increasing the possibility of importing and storing crude oil by expanding the storage capacities in our harbour city of Gdańsk.
The sabotage of the Nord Stream pipelines should be seen in the broad context of the Russian war and Putin’s determination to achieve success. Trade in energy resources has become an area of energy war. The explosions on both gas pipelines seem in line with the strategy of escalating gas relations with Europe, consistently implemented by Moscow for many months. The temporal coincidence of damage to Nord Stream 1 and Nord Stream 2 with the inauguration of the Polish-Danish-Norwegian Baltic Pipe project on September 27 is also clearly visible. Nevertheless, the breakdowns of gas pipelines will not noticeably impact the European gas market. Russian gas has not been shipped to Europe via NS1 since the end of August 2022 and NS2 was never launched.
Q. What is the impact of sanctions on Russia and has there been any increase in Russian nationals seeking refuge in Poland following the partial mobilisation?
A. Introduction of wide-ranging sanctions on Russia is one of the instruments that we use to stop the aggressor state from violating international law and committing brutal killings of innocent civilians. We consider Western sanctions on Russia’s economy to be highly effective. We intend to keep consistent pressure on Russia and adopt further restrictive measures which will undermine Russia’s invasion of Ukraine – economically, militarily and politically. At the same time, we must remember that sanctions do not affect the agricultural exports from Russia, including fertilisers. Grain and food exports from Russia are not a subject of any restrictive measures imposed by the EU.
There has been no increased traffic on Polish borders related to mobilisation in Russia. As of September 19, Poland together with Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia decided to severely restrict the inflow of Russian citizens through our borders. Political announcements to admit all those Russian citizens who avoid mobilisation are, in our opinion, unjustified. In most cases, the Russian citizens concerned did not actively oppose the ongoing aggression but actually supported Putin’s imperialist policy until it affected them directly. They should be confronted with their government’s policy consequences instead of being rewarded with the privilege of living in the EU.
Q. What are Poland’s priorities for bilateral ties with India for 2023? What are the new areas of cooperation?
A. We are aiming to promote new possibilities in the IT and food processing sectors. Numerous B2B meetings are being organised and we participate in various bilateral and multilateral platforms of cooperation. We also promote our education offer. There are several thousand Indian students in Poland and the number is growing, just as is the total number of NRIs in our country. I can tell you that in Warsaw alone we already have 112 Indian restaurants! Poles love Indian cuisine.
Q. What steps are being taken to increase India-Poland trade and investment?
A. India is a focus country for Polish investors, the trade between our countries has grown seven-fold over the last decade and we are striving for more. We promote our products and solutions at the most important trade fairs in India. Signing the EU-India free trade agreement will definitely have us see a growth spurt in Indo-Polish trade relations.
Q. What can be done to increase connectivity and people-to-people exchanges?
A. We have been actively working towards the facilitation of connectivity between our two countries. A major development in this field came in the form of resumption of direct flights between Warsaw and Delhi earlier this year. This connection had been suspended in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, but through common effort it was reinstated in March 2022 and currently LOT Polish Airlines operates five flights a week, bringing both our national capitals closer together. Moreover, two weekly flights to Mumbai were opened as well.