By ROY C. MABASA
Poland’s Charge d’Affaires to Manila Jaroslaw Szczepankiewicz has reiterated his call for the international community, including the Philippines, to continue supporting Ukraine against Russia’s “unprovoked” invasion of its neighboring country.
Szczepankiewicz made this statement during the 104th anniversary celebration of Poland’s independence held last week in Taguig City.
“Today, as our borders are defined by shared values, Ukrainian borders are borders of our own freedom and democracy and every country’s sovereignty and independence. We stand with Ukraine! ‘Be not afraid!’,” the top Polish diplomat in Manila said in his welcome remarks.
Be not afraid was a popular phrase uttered by Polish-born Pope John Paul II during his first public address after his election.
Apparently referring to Russia’s aggression and the global security landscape, Szczepankiewicz noted what he described as revival of the “forces of autocracy” in Europe and in Asia.
“Its hallmarks are familiar ones: contempt for the rule of law, contempt for democratic freedom, contempt for the truth itself,” he said.
The Polish diplomat lamented that Russia has strangled democracy not only in its homeland and invaded Ukraine, “under false claims of ethnic solidarity.”
Also in his speech, Szczepankiewicz said he witnessed first-hand the increase in trade exchange between Manila and Warsaw during the last four years since he assumed the post.
“Our commitment continues for a sustainable economic growth and the opening-up of both countries: I witnessed first-hand the increase in trade exchange from US$469,000 in 2017 to US$877,000 in 2021,” he said.
The economic policy between the two countries spearheaded by the Polish Trade Foreign Office in the Philippines focused in the areas of water management, financial technology, medical technologies as well as digitalization.
Poland, he said, “stands ready to provide food security to the Philippines.”
On development cooperation, Poland and the Philippines are focused on building the resilience of the most vulnerable population as typified by the Embassy’s initiative aimed at professionalization of the women sector in Quezon City through tailoring courses financed under the Polish Aid.
Szczepankiewicz likewise vowed to continue its commitment to help strengthen Philippine security following the successful delivery of 16 Black Hawk S-70i helicopters produced in Poland by PZL Mielec.
The Polish official is confident that the delivery of an additional order of 32 more choppers signed in February this year will be “equally successful.”
Commemorated every 11th of November, the Polish National Day reflects on the restoration of its independence in 1918. Poland disappeared from the map of Europe for 123 years after Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth had ceased to exist, a result of an arrangement between three powers: Russia, Prussia and Austria.
The Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth was the first advanced republican project in Europe with greater liberty offered to its citizens. Poland is now a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).