Taking to Maidan in Kiev a year ago, the Ukrainians showed that they want to live in a free and democratic country. In a country which is a part of Europe and respects its values. They paid a huge price for that. Now, they are trying to change their country in spite of Crimea’s annexation, the war in Eastern Ukraine, and the tragic condition of the state and its economy caused by the rule of the previous president, as well as the negligence and nonfeasance of the previous government.
Poland has supported Ukraine for years, believing that the independence, stability, and prosperity of the Ukrainian state are in our vital interest. All of the Polish governments since 1989 have agreed with this conviction. During the last quarter of a century, a network of cooperation between Polish and Ukrainian cities, institutions, and communities, as well as ordinary people from both countries was built. Representatives of the civic society have always played a special role in the development of these relationships. A state and non-governmental support system for these relations was created. However, in the face of a huge number of challenges and the unprecedented threat posed by Russia that the Ukrainian society faces, our engagement to date turns out to be highly insufficient.
Poland has to provide Ukraine with more support in the form of expert knowledge and exchange of experiences, but also financial resources needed to repair the state and the manner in which it is run, to reform the economy, and to bring the country closer to the European Union, in accordance with its citizens’ will. Polish non-governmental organisations, think-tanks, and independent expert institutions have a large role to play here.
The Poles have shown their solidarity with the Ukrainians during the Maidan events, organising campaigns of support for the demonstrators, devotedly supporting the injured and their families, and accepting young Ukrainians to Polish universities. Today, Polish non-governmental organisations try to provide help to crowds of refugees from Crimea and the war-torn areas. They carry out public collections, send clothes, food, and medicines.
This is not enough, however. Due to the conflict, more than 800 thousand Ukrainian citizens had to leave their homes. No government could handle such a huge number of displaced persons, not even the best-organised, wealthy society could bear such burden. The Polish state should act determinedly and allocate real resources for humanitarian aid for the victims of the conflict. Today, before winter comes.
Warsaw, 15 December 2014