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09KYIV578, POLAND AS UKRAINE’S ADVOCATE

April 1, 2009

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09KYIV578 2009-04-01 09:00 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Kyiv

VZCZCXRO6173
RR RUEHDBU
DE RUEHKV #0578/01 0910900
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
R 010900Z APR 09
FM AMEMBASSY KYIV
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 7551
INFO RUCNCIS/CIS COLLECTIVE
RUEHZG/NATO EU COLLECTIVE

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 KYIV 000578 
 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 04/01/2019 
TAGS: PREL PGOV UP PL
SUBJECT: POLAND AS UKRAINE'S ADVOCATE 
 
Classified By: Political Counselor Colin Cleary for reasons 1.4 (b,d) 
 
SUMMARY 
-------- 
 
1. (C)  Ukrainian officials regard Poland as a strong 
bilateral partner, Ukraine's primary advocate in the European 
Union, and as a key supporter of Ukraine's NATO aspirations. 
Poland and Ukraine maintain close contacts at all levels: 
Presidential, Prime Ministerial and via their Foreign 
Ministries.  This close relationship has allowed Kyiv and 
Warsaw to work out border issues and to take on the challenge 
of co-hosting the EURO 2012 European soccer championships. 
End Summary. 
 
 
LEADERS IN SYNC 
--------------- 
 
2. (C)  President Yushchenko enjoys a close relationship with 
Polish President Kaczynski.  Ukrainian MFA Poland Desk 
Officer Oleksiy Platonov told us that in addition to the 
eleven official bilateral meeting between Yushchenko and 
Kaczynski in the last year, the presidents also hold frequent 
unofficial phone calls without the involvement of the 
Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) or presidential staff.  He 
said that the relationship between Yushchenko and Kaczynski 
extends beyond similar policy and world views and that their 
families are close friends.  Platonov said that one 
unfortunate side effect of the Yushchenko-Kaczynski 
relationship was that the MFA was often left out of the loop 
because many high level discussions happen informally. 
 
3. (C)  Although not as close as Yushchenko and Kaczynski, 
Prime Minister Tymoshenko and Polish PM Tusk are also in 
frequent contact and enjoy a good working relationship. 
Bogoslaw Gertruda from the Polish Embassy in Kyiv told us 
that Tusk sees Tymoshenko as an action-oriented leader who 
can get things done.  The two governments have a created a 
bilateral commission including more than 17 subcommissions 
focused on specific topics, such as extending the Odesa-Brody 
oil pipeline, trade, investment, electricity, and cemeteries. 
 In December 2008 the Ukrainian and Polish MFAs held a 
ministry to ministry forum with ten directors from each side 
discussing a broad swath of bilateral topics.  Serhiy 
Mishchenko, MFA Director for Central Europe, commented to us 
that this meeting underscored the depth and institutional 
nature of Ukrainian-Polish cooperation. 
 
 
UKRAINE'S EUROPEAN ADVOCATE 
--------------------------- 
 
4. (C)  Ukrainian leaders regard Poland as a strong advocate 
for Ukraine's integration into the European Union and NATO. 
Platonov said that only Poland is willing to stand up to 
other EU countries on Ukraine's behalf, especially when it 
involves Russia.  He said that Kyiv sees Poland as its 
primary champion for EU membership and as second only to the 
US as an advocate for Ukrainian accession to NATO.  Platonov 
said that the shared history of Poland and Ukraine of "war 
and subjugation" made their leaders see the world through 
similar optics. 
 
5. (C) Warsaw is committed to Ukraine's Euro-Atlantic 
integration not only because Kyiv is a close ally, but 
because it is good for Poland's economy and national 
security, according to Gertruda.  He said that the biggest 
external roadblocks to closer ties between Ukraine and the EU 
were the close relations Germany and France maintain with 
Russia.  Gertruda lamented that "Ukraine is its own worst 
enemy" when it comes to Euro-Atlantic integration.  Political 
infighting and "undemocratic" actions by its leaders 
frequently undermine Polish advocacy on Ukraine's behalf and 
give ample ammunition to Kyiv's harshest critics. 
 
 
WORKING TOGETHER ON BORDER AGREEMENT AND VISAS 
--------------------------------------------- - 
 
6. (C) After Poland's December 2007 entry into the EU 
Schengen visa zone, Ukrainians lost access to easily obtained 
free Polish visas, according to Gertruda.  This was 
especially difficult for Ukrainian residents living near the 
Polish border who often depended on shuttle trading or who 
have family living on the Polish side of the border. 
Although, Ukrainians now have to meet more stringent 
standards and pay 60 Euros for a Schengen zone visa, the 
Polish visa process is considered the most "humane" of the EU 
countries, according to Platonov.  Poland is committed to 
easing the EU visa process for Ukrainians, according to 
 
KYIV 00000578  002 OF 002 
 
 
Gertruda, and is pushing for simplifying Schengen visa 
requirements for certain Ukrainians, such as businessmen and 
students.  Gertruda told us that in addition to their 
consulates in Kyiv, Lviv, and Kharkiv, Poland had broken 
ground on a new consulate in Vinnitsya and is moving forward 
with opening a consulate in Sevastopol, making it the first 
EU country to open a consulate in Crimea. 
 
7. (C) The Polish parliament recently forwarded to President 
Kaczynski an agreement to allow visa free travel for 
residents in a 30km buffer zone on either size of the 
Ukrainian-Polish border.  Gertruda said that Ukraine had been 
pushing for the zone to be extended to 50km to include the 
city of Lviv, but that Poland had been unable to overcome 
European Commissi
on (EC) opposition to modify the 30km EU 
standard.  He said Yushchenko and Kaczynski decided to move 
forward with the initial 30km agreement to improve the 
situation immediately, but to continue to push for special EC 
approval to extend the border zone.  After Kaczynski's 
expected signature and European Commission ratification, 
Ukrainians can receive documentation from Poland that will 
allow them visa free access across the Polish border, 
according to Gertruda.  He said that close cooperation 
between Kyiv and Warsaw had enabled the border agreement to 
progress quickly, in contrast to Ukraine's stalled border 
agreement with Romania. 
 
 
CO-HOSTING EURO 2012 
-------------------- 
 
8. (SBU) The joint bid of Ukraine and Poland to hold the Euro 
2012 European soccer championships highlights the close 
cooperation between the two countries, according to Platonov. 
 Gertruda said that PMs Tusk and Tymoshenko have set up a 
EURO 2012 bilateral working group to focus on coordinating 
cross border infrastructure projects and to work out venue 
changes if any of the host cities fall behind on their 
pledged construction.  Although the Union of European 
Football Associations (UEFA), European soccer's governing 
body, has publicly warned Ukraine and Poland that delays in 
the construction of stadiums, hotels, and infrastructure 
could result in the championship being moved to a new host, 
Gertruda said that UEFA's most recent private assessments 
showed Ukraine and Poland were "on target" to meet 
construction deadlines. 
 
 
COMMENT 
------- 
 
9. (C) The close and productive bilateral relationship 
between Poland and Ukraine is a significant example of 
historical reconciliation.  Poland has managed to help mentor 
Ukraine without prompting notable resentment.  While 
Yushchenko's political popularity is at an all-time low and 
his remaining time in office likely measured in months, we 
judge the bilateral ties forged at all levels to be deep 
enough and institutional enough to endure. 
TAYLOR

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