Ambassador and Mrs. Krzysztof Majka of the Republic of Poland, together with Defense Attache Colonel Boguslaw, hosted a reception at the Grand Ballroom of the Millennium Seoul Hilton on the evening of May 11, 2016.
An estimated 500 distinguished guests attended the party from all walks of life as well as from the Korean government and the Seoul Diplomatic Corps, including Deputy Foreign Minister Kim Hyoung-zhin for Political Affairs and Director Maj. Gen. Park Dong-woo for Foreign Intelligence at Korea Defense Intelligence Agency. From the media came many journalist leaders who included Publisher-Chairman Lee Kyung-sik of The Korea Post accompanied by Vice Chairman Choe Nam-suk.
There were many ambassadors, other senior diplomats and military attaches accompanied by their spouses. Among them were Ambassadors Hany Moawad Selim Labib of Egypt, Rolf Mafael of Germany, Bessho Koro of Japan, Mohamed Salim Alharthy of Oman, Raul S. Hernandez of the Philippines, Antonio Quintero Nobre of Portugal, Alexander Andreevich Tomonin of Russia, Mamadou Ndiaye of Senegal, Milan Lajciak of Slovak Republic and Niroshani Manisha Dias Abeywickrema Gunasekera of Sri Lanka (partial list at the end of this article).
Speaking to the guests, Ambassador Majka said, “The performance of Polish economy is well recognized internationally. A.T. Kearney, an independent global management consulting firm, predicts that Poland will be among seven countries positioned to outperform their peers and play a greater role in the world economy through 2020.”
Then he said, “At the same time, Poland is among countries catching up the fastest in terms of easiness of doing business with her global ranking climbing from 45th position in 2014 to 25th place this year.
Then he introduced, “At the same time, according to European Commission, Polish economic growth will be the 5th fastest in the EU recording a strong and steady pace of 3.5%, whereas World Bank projects a GDP of 3.7% in 2016.” “This record,” he said, “underlines the constantly raising GDP in the recent years, which has grown almost twice fold in 15 years.”
In response there was a congratulatory speech by Deputy Foreign Minister Kim Hyoung-zhin who congratulated Poland’s National Day, reviewed the smooth progress in trade and other areas between the two countries and expressed hopes for continued increase in the relations between the countries in all fields.
Excerpts from the speech of Ambassador Majka:
I am truly delighted to welcome you all here today.
Famous Polish Romantic Poet Cyprian Kamil Norwid once wrote:
“For that land where a scrap of bread is picked up
“From the ground out of reverence
“For Heaven's gifts...
“I am homesick, Lord.”
Those words resonate especially strongly in South Korea, not only because I am far away from my home country, but also because here every grain of rice is picked up and doesn’t go to waste. Perhaps, that is the reason why Poles and South Koreans understand each other so well and feel so close to each other.
We are very pleased that there’s a growing interest in everything Polish in South Korea. This is of course also thanks to our friends at the Polish Faculty at Hankuk University in Seoul as well as Korean-Polish Friendship Association “Pro-Polonia” and Keimyung University both in Daegu.
Just to give you some examples: only 10 days ago, on the 1st of May, we turned Cheonggye Plaza into a small piece of Poland with Polish folk art, music, literature, food, pottery and cosmetics. I am personally amazed with the enthusiastic response from the Korean public. The Polish picnic, as we called it, was a huge success and a great opportunity to showcase a couple of aspects of our culture we are proud of.
Last October, a talented Korean pianist Cho Seong-Jin, won XVII-th International Chopin piano competition held in Warsaw, Poland every five years.
And during the summer months of last year, the biggest Polish art exhibition ever shown abroad was displayed in Seoul. “Polish Art ? an enduring Spirit” was inaugurated by the Polish Minister of Culture and National Heritage at the National Museum of Korea. It presented Polish history from the Middle Ages to contemporary times through nearly 200 works of art.
Today’s event is also about history. We have met to celebrate and commemorate the first modern constitution in the European continent, adopted by the Polish Parliament on the 3rd of May 1791. It was the second constitution in the world after The American Declaration of Independence of 4th July 1776. A truly remarkable historical achievement and a triumph of a modern democracy. Although Poland was occupied and practically removed from the map of Europe for 123 years, until this day we celebrate the determination of our leaders and commemorate their contribution to the development of Polish nation.
In Poland we strongly believe in cooperation as the best solution. This is why this year, in July, Poland, for the first time in history, will host NATO Summit. It will be a good opportunity for us to show Polish engagement in creating stronger Alliance, especially at its Eastern flank, able to deter and counter any threats to the safety and security of its members.
Also 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.
More regionally, with the second half of this year, Poland will take over the presidency of the Visegrad Group from our Czech collegues.
The performance of Polish economy is well recognized internationally. A.T. Kearney - an independent global management consulting firm predicts, that Poland will be among seven countries positioned to outperform their peers and play a greater role in the world economy through 2020. At the same time, Poland is among countries catching up the fastest in terms of easiness of doing business, it has climbed up in the global ranking from 45th position in 2014 to 25th place, this year. At the same time, according to European Commission, Polish economic growth will grow 5th fastest in EU, recording a strong and steady pace of 3.5%, whereas World Bank projects a GDP of 3.7% in 2016. This record underlines constantly raising GDP in recent years, which has grown almost twice fold in 15 years.
I am proud to commemorate 27 years of fruitful and eventful cooperation between Poland and South Korea and in terms of bilateral trade, currently our countries recorded trade turnover of about 4 billion 6 hundred million dollars.
But as a matter of fact, Poland has been present at the Korean Peninsula for much longer. For the last 63 years, Poland has been involved in strengthening the security at the Korean Peninsula as a member of the Neutral Nations Supervisory Commission.
Furthermore, in 2013, upon the occasion of the visit of the Polish President in Seoul, Strategic Partnership between our two countries was adopted and that brought new impulse to our bilateral relations.
For the last couple of days, many Polish companies are exhibiting their products at the Seoul Food and Hotel Fair 2016. But you will also have a chance to taste great Polish products here at our reception. I would like to use this opportunity to thank the Union of Producers and Employers of Meat Industry - UPEMI, for their support at the organization of today’s event. My great hope is that this year will bring the opening of direct flights between Warsaw and Seoul and as a result, both nations will get even more opportunities to get to know each other even better so that our relations will flourish even more.
Partial list of ambassadors attending the reception:
Jorge Roballo of Argentina, Elisabeth Bertagnoli of Austria, Ramzi Teymurov of Azerbaijan, Natallia Jhylevich of Belarus, Petar Andonov of Bulgaria, Tito Saul Pinilla Pinilla of Colombia, Sylvestre Kouassi Bile of Cote d'Ivoire, Tomas Husak of Czech Republic, Oscar Gustavo Herrera Gilbert of Ecuador, Hany Moawad Selim Labib of Egypt, Rolf Mafael of Germany, Nikoloz Apkhazava of Georgia, Gabor Csaba of Hungary, Bessho Koro of Japan, Khamsouay Keodalavong of Lao Republic, Peteris Vaivars of Latvia, Mohamed Salim Alharthy of Oman, Raul S. Hernandez of the Philippines, Antonio Quintero Nobre of Portugal, Calin Fabian of Romania, Alexander Andreevich Tomonin of Russia, Mamadou Ndiaye of Senegal, Milan Lajciak of Slovak Republic, Niroshani Manisha Dias Abeywickrema Gunasekera of Sri Lanka, Kiromov Salohiddin of Tajikistan (CDA) and Vasyl Marmazov of Ukraine.