Politics is ability to dream marvelously - interview with Polish Ambassador

January 04, 2013 | 18:56

The Armenian News-NEWS.am presents the interview of the Ambassador of
Poland to Armenia Zdzislaw Raczynski.

Do you think that Armenia and Poland use all the potential for the
development of bilateral relations? Or could they have done better?

The phrase `could do better' sounds somewhat maximalist. If a certain
level of relationship is set, it was the real and attainable one. We
must face the truth, to take into account the geographical distance
between countries. But I would say that, in political terms, relations
between Poland and Armenia are richer, multi-faceted, compared to
Armenia's relations with any other EU country on this level. I define
the level of our relations as a mature trusting partnership in which
both parties are fully aware of the reality, the opportunities, and
the constraints. At the same time, during the past 3 years, relations
between Poland and Armenia deepened, the intensity of the dialogue
increased. Overall, I think that an unprecedented progress of
relationships has been registered in the 20-year-long history of our

The basis of any relationship is the economy. What is the trade
turnover between Armenia and Poland, and prospects for development of

Usually to illustrate the economic relations between the countries the
media notes the turnover. Today it is a little unreasonable. In the
case of Armenia, given the geographical distance and a certain
economic isolation of your country, the goods produced in the
territory of Poland, get here through third countries - Ukraine,
Belarus, Russia and even Turkey.

For example, so far Armenian passports have been produced by French
company. They just printed the covers, brought to Armenia and sold
them. Now a Polish company is going to do it. In contrast to the
previous company, it provides Armenia full range of equipment, which
gives the opportunity to the Armenian side to develop the abilities,
not just print the covers, but to accumulate a database. Currently,
there is an idea on the establishment of a joint venture. I cannot
reveal its character, but I note that it also will not just sell
products, and but will produce them here. It means not only new jobs,
people will also have an opportunity to learn new technologies.

How promising is the cooperation between Armenia and Poland in the
defense sphere?

I must be honest - Armenia is in a conflict state, I mean the issues
with Azerbaijan, of course. Poland will be the last country to do any
action that may increase the tension. We all know that if the
countries that are involved in a conflict purchase additional weapons,
it contribute to the tension. Poland has not delivered and will not
deliver military equipment for any conflicting country. However, in
terms of cooperation in general, it is the training, the `leveling' of
standards modeled by NATO cooperation in the area of peacekeeping,
because Armenian contingent in Iraq participated in the Polish
division. It is not necessary to sell tanks to be able to cooperate.
There is a certain interest from the Armenian side to some
developments in the field of defense, which is MANPADS `Thunder.' But
we will not deliver them to the region. Armenian party relates to this
with full knowledge. There are no differences in opinions.

How does Poland, as one of the initiators of the Eastern Partnership,
review the progress of the program and specific actions of Armenia?

In early December the extraordinary visit of three foreign ministers
of the three countries - Poland, Sweden and Bulgaria took place. I
think the media have underestimated the importance of this visit and
its possible implications for relationship between Armenia and the EU.
After all, EU is not a Commission in Brussels. EU is 28 countries that
have delegated some of their powers to Brussels and who decide what
policy EU should conduct. Some time ago, Poland and Sweden have
proposed Eastern Partnership as a program to promote the modernization
and reform in Eastern Europe, including the South Caucasus, in order
to promote the development in these countries, particularly, legal,
political, and economic rules that push these countries closer to the
EU. It will be optimal if the members of the Eastern Partnership aim
for full integration into the EU sometime in the future. Our idea is
permanent - not to forget about our eastern neighbors. In contrast to
our southern neighbors, who are neighbors of Europe, Eastern countries
are European neighbors of EU. There is a small but significant
difference. This is a different quality, a different perspective, as
well as other opportunities.

If in the early 1990's, which in my country have been very difficult
(though not as terrible as here, as there was an earthquake and a war
here), someone would have tried to convince us that Poland will be a
member of EU an ambulance would be called for him. But the dream has
come true. Politics is the ability to dream marvelously, to think far
ahead. Is this program perfect? Perfect solutions do not exist. But
this is the most of what Europe today can offer. Sometimes they talk
about the financial component. But it is not only a transfer of money
- it is a transfer of ideas and solutions. If we convert to per capita
the amount which Armenia currently receives from the EU, it is about
the same as Poland received prior to the entry into the EU. The money
was spent on making changes. We must have the will, determination, and
vision to seek what we want. In general, I think, after 2.5 years of
work we can be satisfied. The year left before the summit in Vilnius
can be an important one. On December 17 an agreement on visa
facilitation between Armenia and the EU was signed. The negotiations
on the main document of the Association are in full run, the three
rounds of talks on free trade have been held. Altogether it is a
package of associated membership. Best that can be achieved in Armenia
now is all of the above, except for the formal membership.

This question concerns one of the southern neighbors. How much does
the policy pursued by Turkey concerning Armenia's blockade correspond
to European standards?

First, it is important to remember that Turkey is not an EU member. It
is a member of NATO, and we have very good relations with both Ankara
and Yerevan. We would like to somehow contribute to the normalization
of relations, but here additional mediators will only interfere.
Turkey politicized the issue, as it is also connected to the relations
with Azerbaijan. I am sure that any border closure in Europe now is
absurd. I myself am against hard visa regimes; borders should be a
place where people meet, and not a place that separate people. On the
other hand, I look at Turkey differently than many of my Armenian
friends. Despite the difficult and dramatic past, I think that Turkey
is a great chance for Armenia. You should look at Turkey's 80 million
market. At the same time, despite the closed border, contacts between
the two countries exist, and the turnover is significant. This shows
the absurdity of the situation. Why transport goods from [Armenian]
Gyumri to [Turkey's] Kars through Georgia, if directly it is only 80
km. I hope that the economic interest of both parties will solve the
issue. But I want to emphasize again - any closed border is abnormal.

A small Polish community lives in Armenia, a fairly large Armenian
community lives in Poland. Do the communities experience any problem?

The Polish community in Armenia is indeed small, only about 200-300
people. Some of them are ethnic Polish, whose descendants moved to
Armenia, as well as polish women, married to the Armenians. There is a
group of Armenians who are just very sympathetic to Poland. The number
of Armenians in Poland is difficult to calculate, because not everyone
wants to be counted, it is about 30-40 thousand. This is the latest

Poland is quite a complicated country for a foreigner; just like
Armenia, it is mono-ethnic and mono-religious. Polish people have
special sympathy for Armenians, Georgians and French. Armenians in
Poland are a legally recognized minority. Recently, more Armenians
decided to set up permanent residence in Poland. We are glad, you are

By Mariam Levina

From: Baghdasarian