Ambassador Krysztof Ignacy Majka of Poland said that Korea is the fifth global and second Asian biggest county on the portpolio of the Polish Information and Foreign Investment Agency in terms of number of investment projects in Poland. This was disclosed at a recent interview with The Korea Post conducted on the occasion of the Independence Day of Poland on May 3, 2016.?Ed.
Question: What are the areas in Poland where you want Korean companies to invest and what are the areas where you wish your businessmen to invest in Korea?
Answer: Currently, Korea is the 5th global and 2nd Asian biggest country in Polish Information and Foreign Investment Agency’s portfolio regarding number of investment projects. During last 5 years, Korean investors have created 65,000 new jobs in Poland. Currently, there are 10 ongoing Korean investments which in the future can lead to the creation of 2,000 new jobs. Thus, Korean investments in Poland have become a vital element of Polish-Korean economic co-operation and are incredibly important for the Polish economy, mainly because of their advanced technology. At the same time import from Korea has been maintained on a stable level at above 3,6 billion USD in the past three years. The attractiveness of Poland as a destination for Korean investments is underlined by the fact that for many years Korea has been in the lead among countries with which Poland produces the largest trade deficit which results from the amount of Korean investments.
In the future, aging Korean society together with increasing demand for high-quality products could create an opportunity for Polish exports, especially luxury cosmetics and pharmaceutical products as well as food. Poland is well renown as a producer of healthy, organic food and I believe that this might become a future trend in Polish export to Korea. Poland is also recognized globally producer of yachts and recreational boats below 10m and I believe that demand for such products will also increase on Korean market as society is becoming richer.
Q: What is the volume of bilateral trade, its outlook in the next 12 months?
A: Poland is the leading trade partner of South Korea in Central Europe. We generate the highest turnover among new members of European Union and the economic cooperation between Poland and Korea is a pivotal part of the bilateral relationship. Last year, the volume of bilateral trade reached more than 3,7 billion USD, and it is expected that this trend will maintain through 2016 and 2017, especially because it is foreseen that Polish economic growth will record a strong and steady pace of 3.5 % in the following months.
Q: What are your competitive field of industry and products attractive to Korea and what are Korean products that Poland might wish to import?
A: Poland is the number one destination of Korean investors in Europe. Currently, trade exchange for both sides involves especially mechanical and electrical equipment as well as articles of base metal, and for the foreseeable future this will remain our main field of cooperation. Korean cars, and electronic devices are well known and widely used in Poland and this tendency will be maintained in the years to come.
Q: What is your view of Korea and the Korean people before and after your arrival here?
A: Before coming to Korea I worked as the Deputy Director General in the Asia and Pacific Department of the Polish Foreign Affairs Ministry so I knew a lot about the situation on the Korean Peninsula and the people here. In many aspects I find them very similar to Poles although we belong to a different cultural circles. Both our nations are hard working. “ No work, no cake” - goes the old Polish saying and indeed nowadays Poles stand out because of their remarkable work ethic. Hospitality plays a crucial role in both Polish and Korean cultures. “A guest in the house, God in the house” says another Polish proverb. Those are just a few examples to be mentioned in the context of common our traits.
Q: What are the important developments scheduled between Korea and Poland, including the possible visit of your Head of Government to Korea.
A: Last year, Prime Minister Szydło met President Park in December on the occasion of the meeting between Visegrad Group Representatives and South Korea. That is why we do not expect high level meeting this year. Nevertheless, we are currently in the process of organizing the visit of mr. Piotr Gli?ski, the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of culture and national heritage. It is also possible that Mr. Witold Waszczykowski, the Minister of Foreign Affairs will visit Korea in Autumn, but no final decision has been made yet.
Q: Please introduce your Head of Government in detail, including major achievements.
A: Beata Szydło took the office as the Head of Government on 16 November 2015, after impressive performance as campaign manager for Andrzej Duda, who swept to victory in presidential election in 2015. She began her political career by joining the Law and Justice (Prawo i Sprawiedliwo??) party in 2005, same year she was elected as a Member of Parliament, obtaining the best results in the region. In 2010 she took an office at the Public Finance Commission (Sejmowa Komisja Finans?w) becoming the face of the party’s political economy. In 2010 Beata Szydło became the deputy chairman of the Law and Justice Party, taking charge of Małopolska region in the following year and in 2014 she became party’s Treasurer. Before becoming the Head of Government, Beata Szydło’s greatest achievement was leading the aforementioned successful campaign of Andrzej Duda in 2015.
Andrze Duda, the President of Poland, has also began his cooperation with the Law and Justice Party in 2005. Before winning the elections in 2015, he was a member of the European Parliament, winning nearly 100,000 votes.
Q: What are the attractive tourist destinations of Poland?
A: Poland has a diversity in terrain; from the mountains, across the lakes, and to the sea. There are also four beautiful Polish seasons, which many countries would envy. Poland is definitely an attractive destination. The list of desirable, ‘must-see’ places must include Krak?w, country's former royal capital; Ł?d? and its famous film school, from which Roman Pola?ski and Krzysztof Kie?lowski graduated; Toru?, the hometown of astronomer Nicholas Copernicus; and Warsaw, which lays claim to Marie Curie and Frederick Chopin. The country's biggest port and northern boomtown, Gda?sk, is best known as the birthplace of Lech Wał?sa's Solidarity movement, which led the country into democracy in 1989. The beauty of Poland does not, hoverer, stop there.
Tourists should also visit less known places like Kowal, Szczawnica, Bialowieza Forest or Bieszczady Mountains. Polish beaches on the Baltic coast are among the most beautiful ones in the world. The landscapes here are enchanting: white sandy beaches, moving dunes and steep cliffs. Poland also has superbly preserved broadleaved forests (Puszcza Kampinoska) and fir-beech forests (in the Swietokrzyskie Mountains). The Puszcza Romincka Forest in Mazuria has taiga-like features, while the Tucholskie Woods contain a cluster of 4,000 yews, unrivalled anywhere else in Europe, the oldest of the trees being 600 years old.
All those who wish to deepen their knowledge of history and see outstanding art pieces should travel to our country in order to admire Poland’s UNESCO sites entered on the World Cultural and Natural Heritage List (currently 14 sites).
Last, but not least, in recent years Poland became a hotspot for those seeking to strengthen their health by visiting health resorts and spas. The tradition of Polish health spas dates back to the 13th century. Deposits of therapeutic mineral waters and therapeutic mud allow many disorders to be treated in Poland. Polish spas are not only for people with health problems, but also for those who seek peace and quiet for resting. From the Baltic Sea to the Tatra Mountains, Polish resort towns promote nature-filled holidays, combining them with the beneficial effects of medical, relaxation and beauty treatments.
Q: Please introduce yourself in detail, including your career, family and hobbies.
A: I have served as the ambassador of Poland to Korea for the last 5 years but my association with Asia and diplomacy lasts already for more than 30 years. It started with my research activities in India under the Indo-Polish Cultural and Scientific Program. My work there culminated in being awarded with a PhD in aerodynamics from the Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore. After that, I worked in Poland as a lecturer at the Technical University in my hometown Koszalin which is a beautiful city at the Baltic Sea celebrating 750-th anniversary of its foundation in the following month. As a young researcher I was always thinking that I would continue my scientific career, however my plans were altered, to certain extend, by history. After changes of the political system in 1989 a demand for a well-educated people, without previous affiliation to the communist system, occurred. Therefore, I took my chance as I was selected to the diplomatic service. Before coming to Korea I was serving as the ambassador to India, Sri-lanka, Nepal and Maledives. In 1997 I was elected to the Polish Parliament where I chaired the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Polish Senate. I have one son and three grandchildren. My son and his two daughters enjoy practicing taekwondo and my son Jaroslaw already holds a black belt. They are all very enthusiastic and real ambassadors of this Korean marshal art in Poland. My wife Zofia is a chemical engineer currently greatly supporting me on all my diplomatic assignments. My hobby is swimming, scuba diving, music and particularly playing guitar. I also sing in the diplomatic choir here in Seoul.
Q: Please add whatever other details that we might have left out from the questionnaire.
A: This will be an important year for Poland with many significant cultural and political events. This year, the city of Wrocław is holding a title the European Capital of Culture, as well as the UNESCO World Book Capital, taking over from the Korean city of Incheon.
In July, Polish city Krak?w will be proud to host XXXI World Youth Day, the global event that is expected to gather together more than 2 million people from all over the world including Pope Francis. Also in July this year, Poland, for the first time in history, will host NATO Summit, where the global as well as regional security issues and challenges will be discussed by NATO members and other invited guests.