On the occasion of the 25th anniversary of establishment of diplomatic relations between Korea and Poland and the Polish Army Day, Ambassador Krzysztov Majka of Poland and Defense Attache Defense Attaches Colonel Andrzej Markowicz hosted a reception at the Millennium Seoul Hilton on Dec. 8, 2014 with the attendance of former Prime Minister Marek Belka of Poland (now president of the National Bank of Poland) and other distinguished guests from Korean society as well as from the Diplomatic Corps.
There were many distinguished guests from Korea and the diplomatic community, besides the former Polish prime minister.
Among the Korean guests were Ambassador Lee Sang-kyu of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) for Performance Evaluation, Rear Admiral Lee Beom-rim (director of Foreign Intelligence of the Defense Intelligence Agency), President Harri Haesun Lee of CJ Cheiljedang, Vice President Jeon Seung-Jae of LS-Nikko, Representative Kim Jong-Min of ANIMEX, Professor Dr. Lee Seung-Sun of Keimyung University and President Kim Hyung-dae of The Korea Post.
From the Diplomatic Corps came mission chiefs and other senior diplomats, who included Ambassadors Petar Andonov of Bulgaria, Tomas Husak of Czech Republic, Nikoloz Apkhazava of Georgia, Gabor Csaba of Hungary, Milan Lajciak of Slovak Republic and Vasyl Marmazov of Ukraine.
There also were Maj. Gen. Urs Gerber (Swiss member of the Neutral Nations Supervisory Commission) and Defense Attaches Brig. Gen. Myint Hein of Myanmar and Colonels Ophir Cohen-Marom of Israel, Emmanuel Fernandez of Spain and Marcos Alipio De La Vega Polanco of Peru. Then there were Professor Bartek Wasiewski of Keimyung University and Br. Andrzej Baranowski SAC of Society of the Catholic Apostolate (Pallottines).
Speaking to the guests, Ambassador Majka of Poland said that in 1989 Korean businesses hesitated to invest in Poland not knowig if they would really succeed but that the volume of trade from that that time to now has jumped by more than 60 folds. Excerpts from the speech follow:
I am honoured to welcome you at the celebration of the 25th anniversary of the Polish-Korean diplomatic relations and at the Polish Army Day.
Korean proverb says: There is no winter without snow, no spring without sunshine, and no happiness without companions.
And what people may not know, it would be difficult to find better companions than Poland and South Korea.
There are many things that unite us. Starting with similar character - both nations are tough, proud and enjoy hard work. Both nations attach great importance to family values and tradition.
Let us for a moment go back in time.
I am sure many of you still remember the Hodori Tiger ? a cute mascot of the Summer Olympic Games of 1988 in Korea. It quickly became the symbol of the country that turned into a true economic tiger of Asia.
In fact first unofficial political contacts between Poland and South Korea were undertaken under the Hodori eye, at the margins of the Seoul Olympic games. At that time, Polish youth and sports minister (who became our President years later), Aleksander Kwa?niewski, met unofficially with the representatives of the Korean government.
And the rest…is history. Trade offices in Seoul and Warsaw were established in early 1989. Bilateral high level consultations in Warsaw followed and on the 1st of November 1989 in Seoul final documents were signed.
In 1989 the value of bilateral trade didn’t exceed 70 mln USD. Last year this value was 4.3 bln USD. That’s 60 times more. The value of Korean investments in our country exceeds 1.4 bln USD with 150 Korean companies operating at the Polish market. Without a shadow of a doubt, we are the most important Central European partner for South Korean investors. And, I would like to express my gratitude to the government and business people of South Korea for their trust and efforts in building trade relations.
Think about it:
At that time, it was not so obvious that Poland will be a success story. It was a very brave decision to enter the Polish market more than 20 years ago. Koreans did not hesitate. Some people in our country at that time even thought that foreign investor and Korean investor is the same thing!
Obviously, nowadays in Poland we enjoy investments from many countries, but South Korea is our most important economic partner in Asia, after China.
Of course, there’s more to our bilateral relations than economy.
Poland is one of the few countries to have established strategic partnership with South Korea. That was made possible a year ago, when our President Bronisław Komorowski paid a state visit to South Korea. In this context, we would be honoured when President Park pays a visit to the Republic of Poland, hopefully in 2015.
We spare no efforts to share with our Korean hosts the experience of Polish internal transition and reconciliation with our neighboring countries. The ultimate goal is the freedom and peace on the Korean Peninsula and the unification of Korean states.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It would be a serious mistake if I didn’t mention the cultural and educational cooperation.
The biggest Polish language faculty in Asia (130 students at the moment) created already in 1987 is here, in Seoul, at the Hankuk University of Foreign Studies. I am impressed by the charisma of the Korean educators at HUFS. I am impressed by the will and skills of these young people who endeavor the studies of what is said to be one of the most difficult languages in the world.
We are extremely happy that Koreans share our love for Frederic Chopin. Perhaps the best expression of that feeling is the cooperation of the Fryderyk Chopin University of Music and Keimyung University in Daegu. In fact, next year Daegu will host the 3rd Asia-Pacific International F. Chopin Piano Competition, with the participation of over 100 pianists.
Polish universities all around the country, including the oldest and biggest: Jagiellonian University in Cracow and Warsaw University, host Korean students - we are proud they choose Poland as the place to study abroad. Believe me, when I see these bright young people coming to our embassy to apply for a visa, I sincerely admire their passion and determination in pursuing their objectives. Both our countries benefit from their choices.
The biggest Korean festivals rarely don’t feature Polish artists. We are always present at: Busan International Film Festival, Jarasum Jazz Festival, Seoul Performing Arts Festival, DMZ Korean International Documentary Festival and others. Poland is also seeing a great presence of Korean artists at many of our renowned festivals.
We also gathered here today to celebrate Polish Armed Forces Day.
It is celebrated in a tribute to all Polish armed forces, of land, sea, air and special forces. Tribute to the Polish men and women who have made great contributions and sacrifices in service for Poland and the World.
This day also commemorates the Polish victory during the 1920 Battle of Warsaw, or what has often been referred to as the "Miracle on the Vistula river".
It was much more than a Polish victory in defense of our national sovereignty. Poland was the shield standing between the Soviet Union and the spread of global communism.
Today, as the member of NATO - the most powerful military alliance in the world and a community of shared values ? we feel that we bring our contribution to the expansion of the peace and stability well beyond the Euro Atlantic area.
Currently, hundreds of Polish soldiers are serving around the World in UN, NATO and EU missions. But the longest engagement of all is the one in the Korean Peninsula. We are extremely proud that we have the honor to be the part of the Neutral Nations Supervisory Commission for the last 61 years.
We are grateful to our Korean hosts to have acknowledged our contribution by extending to Poland the invitation to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Korean War.
Let me add here that I am very happy that bilateral military cooperation is equally fruitful.
Salute to the Polish Armed Forces and our friends ? Korean Armed Forces!
Best wishes for the Korean and Polish nations and further development of their friendly relations.