By Publisher Lee Kyung-sik with Reporters Kim Jung-mi, Kim Sua
Ambassador Piotr Ostaszewski of Poland said, “Today Poland is a symbol of fast developing economy, modernization and innovation and, needless to say, it is a result of our membership in NATO and the European Union.”
Speaking at a large reception he hosted at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in Seoul on May, 3, 2017 on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of Independence of Poland, Ambassador Ostaszewski then stated: “Our infrastructure has changed dramatically, our market welcomes all the investors from among whom Korea is one of the most important. And the thriving direct flight connection between Warsaw and Seoul by LOT Polish Airlines is a symbol of the remarkable progress made in the bilateral cooperation in various areas during last 29 years.” (See excerpts from the speech of Ambassador Ostaszewski toward the end of this article.)
The Grand Hyatt Ballroom and the spacious hall in front were wholly reserved for the auspicious occasion of Poland were literally filled with an estimated five hundred guests of distinction from all walks of life in the Korean society as well as the international community, the ambassadors and their spouses in particular.
Among the guests in attendance were Deputy Minister Madam Oh Youngju of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, National Assemblyman Chang Byoung-wan who headed the Korea-Poland Parliamentary Friendship Group, and General Vincent K. Brooks, commanding general of the United States Forces Korea, United Nations Command and ROK-US Combined Forces Command.
There also were distinguished guests from other sectors, including the mass communications media whence was Publisher-Chairman Lee Kyung-sik of The Korea Post media (publisher of 3 English and 2 Korean media organizations).
The speech of Ambassador Ostaszewski was followed by a congratulatory address by Deputy Minister Madam Oh Youngju of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, who congratulated Poland, as well as Ambassador Ostaszewski, on the auspicious occasion of the first centennial of Polish independence.
Deputy Minister Oh said, “Poland is Korea's largest trading partner and Korea's number one investment destination in Central Europe.” Then she said, “Last year the trade volume between the two countries reached 3.7 billion US dollars, and Korea's aggregate investment in Poland exceeded 2 billion US dollars.”
“Korean companies doing business in Poland,” she disclosed, “currently numbers around 200 and Korea’s investment fields have been diversified beyond traditional manufacturing industries, which I believe greatly help deepen the economic relations between the two countries.”
Deputy Minister Oh spoke in impeccable English (which in the opinion of many learned guests at the party was not very common), which was also very clear and was understood much comfortably by the audience compared with other Korean speakers of the English language at other such parties. (See excerpts from her speech at the end of this article.)
Korea and Poland are coming closer and closer together for increased cooperation and expansion of their relations. This was clearly evidenced also at the summit meeting between President Moon Jae-in and President Avdrzeh Duda of Poland in Pyeongchang on Feb. 8, 2017.
According to the Presidential Office of Chong Wa Dae in Seoul, President Moon said at his meeting with President Duda, “Mr. President, my hearty congratulations on the 100th anniversary of Independence of Poland and I am very happy that our two countries are closely cooperating with each other in the political, economic, cultural and various other fields.”
President Moon then assured President Duda, “There are many Korean companies in Poland and they consider Poland a firm bridgehead and a strong base of operations for their business expansions in Europe, and I hope that the mutually beneficial cooperation between the Korean and Polish companies will further increase and widen the range of their cooperation, to include electric train batteries and other future-oriented industries and also defense industries.
President Moon expressed his hopes that the Korean companies will continue to increase their cooperation with Poland in various other fields to include infrastructure and energy.
In response to the proposals of President Moon, President Duda of Poland said: “We have many Korean companies operating in Poland and they are a great source of help for us. Poland and Korea are strategic partners and we will further increase the range of our mutual cooperation in the political, economic and various other fields.
President Duda said that 2018 marked the 30th anniversary of establishment of bilateral diplomatic relations and then extended his invitation to President Moon Jae-in to visit his country on the auspicious occasion.
Poland, according to the Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs, has a territory of 1.1 times larger than the Korean peninsula (238,391 ㎢), a population of 20 million and achieved a remarkable economic growth in the past few years.
The country is known as a major transportation and logistics point in the Central and Eastern Europe channelled by the Black Sea and the Danube water transport.
Poland is also known as ‘European bread basket’ for its vast farmland and is famous for rich workforce including IT experts and abundant resources (such as oil and natural gas)
Poland won its accession to the EU in 2007, has emerged as a central hub to bridge the EU market and a new investment base in Central and Southern Europe.
Korea and Poland established diplomatic relations in March 1990 and encouraged their friendly and cooperative bilateral relations after the setting up of the Korean Embassy in Bucharest in June the same year.
The Strategic Partnership between Korea and Poland was signed in September 2008, followed by the Strategic Partnership Action Plan promoting liberal democracy, market economy, and further witnessing a constant development in the political, economic, cultural, educational and other areas.
Excerpts from the speech of Ambassador Ostaszewski:
National Day is a particular moment for the Nation and for the State. How familiar the Roman maxim: SENATUS POPULUSQUE ROMANUS – Senate and the people of Rome – sounds. Today we might say: the Parliament, citizens and the nation refer to the event that created the modern Polish notion of the statehood. 227 years ago on May, 3 the Kingdom of Poland proclaimed with the consent of its people the Constitution, second in the world just after the American one, to transform the state into a modern one which was able to join the modern international community. No matter of the fate of the Constitution which was abolished by the intervention of the neighbouring countries who finally partitioned Poland and erased int from the map, that act united all the Polish generations to regain independence in 1918.
2018 marks a 100th anniversary of regaining independence by Poland and it was then when the May 3 gained a status of a National Day. A century ago the Nation rebuilt its state based on democratic values, and after only 20 years it had to fight for its existence. Nevertheless the idea of freedom persisted and was based on values hammered out at the end of the XVIII century.
Representing my country I am profoundly honoured to celebrate the National Day of Poland together with all of you and especially here in this particular place – the Republic of Korea – the country so well known in Poland and so close to all the Polish people. In the coming year we will celebrate with our Korean friends the 30th anniversary of establishing bilateral diplomatic relations. In 1989 when the communist system was in decline leaving space for democratic changes in Poland the establishment of diplomatic relations between Poland and Korea was considered as a one of the symbols of big changes – actually it was a demand to which the response was obvious.
Today all of us live full of hopes and expectations after the summit talks between both Korean states. Polish Government strongly support Republic of Korea’s efforts aimed at denuclearization, establishing peace and advancing inter-Korean relations. We welcomed the success and outcomes of the meeting between President Moon Jae-in and Chairman Kim Jong Un on 27 April in Panmunjom. At this point I would like to mention the role of the Neutral Nations Supervisory Committee which was set up precisely 65 years ago. Together with our close friends from Czech and Slovak Republic (then Czechoslovakia) Sweden and Switzerland, Poland, as a member of the Commission has always been actively involved in building trust and stability on the Korean Peninsula. We would like to assure our friends - we are ready and determined to further fulfill our commitments. Polish Government strongly support Republic of Koreas efforts aimed at denuclearization, establishing peace and advancing inter-Korean relations. Poland follows the words of St. Francis of Assissi, let me quote: "Where there is discord, may we bring harmony. Where there is error, may we bring truth. Where there is doubt, may we bring faith. And where there is despair, may we bring hope."
Today Poland is a symbol of fast developing economy, modernization and innovation. Needless to say – it is a result of our membership in NATO and the European Union. Our infrastructure has changed dramatically, our market welcomes all the investors from among whom Korea is one of the most important. The thriving direct flight connection between Warsaw and Seoul by LOT Polish Airlines is a symbol of the remarkable progress made in the bilateral cooperation in various areas during last 29 years.
But when we think of Poland we always have Frederick Chopin’s masterpieces in our hearts. There is nothing more Polish than Chopin’s music so much appreciated in the world. Korea is a specific place where the Polish spirit of Chopin’s beautiful tunes are so passionately understandable. Let me only mention the winner of the 2015 Chopin’s Piano Competition Mr. Cho Sung-jin. But there is another event - Asia Pacific International Fryderyk Chopin Piano Competition organized by the Keimyung University and its president prof Sinn Ilhi. It has an international reputation and is inscribed in the cultural landscape of the region.
In my last words let me also invite all of you to a Polish culture festival which will take place upcoming Sunday May 6th in the very heart of Seoul at the Cheonggye Plaza.
Being with you in this particular Day is the most profound honour for all of us – representatives of Poland and simply for us as Poles. Let me propose a toast – For Poland, for our friendship and for our happiness to live in times of mutual understanding and respect!!!!
Excerpts from the congratulatory speech of Deputy Foreign Minister Oh:
Good evening! Dobry Wieczor!
I am honored to be here tonight to celebrate with you the National Day of the Republic of Poland. On behalf of the Government and the people of the Republic of Korea, I extend my congratulations to all the people of Poland on this special day.
Indeed, this day holds great meaning since it is the day the first written constitution in Europe was adopted. This year is also all the more meaningful since it marks the centennial anniversary of Poland’s independence.
Over the years, Korea and Poland have walked on seemingly different yet similar paths. We both achieved independence through the patriotism of our people who were amazingly resilient in longing for freedom in the difficult times.
Our two countries have been steadily moving towards sustainable prosperity and democratic maturity since our independence.
And, we have joined efforts to advance common causes in the multilateral setting, such as promoting rights of people with disability and sustainable development among others.
Our two countries, following the establishment of the Strategic Partnership in 2013, have rapidly developed our friendly and cooperative relations over the many areas.
We have excellent political relations which have been solidified by active high-level exchanges between our two countries.
The Speaker of the Korean National Assembly, the Honorable Chung Syekyun, made an official visit to Poland last October. This February, H.E. Andrzej Duda, President of the Republic of Poland, visited Korea on the occasion of the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics, having very successful Korea-Poland Summit.
Building upon the strong bondage among leaders, we can further explore and pursue ways to advance our substantial cooperation as true Strategic Partners.
We have a robust trade and investment relationship. Poland is Korea's largest trading partner and Korea's number one investment destination in Central Europe.
Last year the trade volume between the two countries reached 3.7 billion US dollars, and Korea's aggregate investment in Poland exceeded 2 billion US dollars.
Korean companies doing business in Poland currently numbers around 200. And, Korea’s investment fields have been diversified beyond traditional manufacturing industries, which I believe greatly help deepen the economic relations between the two countries.
Recently, we have witnessed a new development in our bilateral relations. Whereas previously the governments steered our partnership forward, now our two peoples are taking up a more prominent role in this regard.
The number of visitors between the two countries is roughly estimated at more than 25 thousand every year. In 2016 a direct flight route opened between Seoul and Warsaw. Once the 'Korea-Poland Working Holiday Agreement' comes into effect this year, youth exchanges between our two countries are expected to become even more vitalized.
On April 27, the Inter-Korean Summit was held successfully, resulting in the adoption of the historic 'Panmunjeom Declaration for Peace, Prosperity and Unification of the Korean Peninsula'.
Through this summit, important groundwork was laid for the complete denuclearization of North Korea and the establishment of permanent peace on the Korean Peninsula.
The international community welcomed and commended to the Summit, and we are greatly thankful for all the support and good wishes. I would like to take this opportunity to express my heartfelt appreciation for the consistent and valuable support that Poland has shown for our policy toward North Korea.
I believe the recent development on the Korean peninsula holds all the more significance for Poland since it has contributed to peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula, as a member of the Neutral Nations Supervisory Commission (NNSC).
What we have seen is a bold first step into an uncharted territory and the long road to denuclearization will require not only the roles and responsibilities of the two Koreas but also support and cooperation of the international community.
In this regard, I look forward to Poland, a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council and a key country of the Visegrad Group (V4), playing an important role for the peace and prosperity on the Korean Peninsula and the progress of inter-Korean relations
Before I conclude, I would like to express my heartfelt gratitude to Ambassador Ostaszewski for his commitment and hard work to bring the relations between our two countries to the new heights.
With this final note, I would like to bring my remarks to a close by extending my sincere wishes for the even further development of bilateral relations, and for an everlasting friendship between our two countries.
Thank you. Dziekuje.