True friends are met in hard times. (Translator’s remark: The English counterpart of this proverb would be “A friend in need is a friend indeed”).
– Adam Mickiewicz
Today Ukraine needs help from democratic countries and civil societies. We owe this help to the country where Shevchenko`s portrait is hanged in every house, where his freedom poetry is read and sang by almost every citizen.
Especially we Poles, who were led to freedom by “Solidarity” and international solidarity with “Solidarity,” have an obligation to support the freedom and democratic aspirations of our eastern neighbors.
At the same time, let’s remember that without a free and independent Ukraine there is no safe Poland and no safe Europe. Ukraine has chosen the European option, which has a strategic meaning for the whole euro-atlantic civilization, especially Poland. If the current crisis can be overcome with the help of EU and USA, then Ukraine will become one of our most important commercial and political partners.
Supporting Ukraine in all areas is our duty and political task. It became a Polish raison d’état through “Solidarity’s” actions, in our policy toward countries in central and eastern Europe. It was present in strategic think of Polish emigration. It suffices to mention the names Jerzy Giedroyć and Juliusz Mieroszewski. It was also the fundamental policy of the Solidarity governments in the third Polish Republic, and that is why Poland was the first country that unconditionally supported the independence of Ukraine.
Today Ukrainians are fighting for their and our freedom, that is why Poland should support Ukraine in all areas:
Political: Through support, information and advancing the case in the EU and NATO forums about the crucial role Ukraine plays in the whole [European] regional security system.
Military: Through supporting the Ukrainian Army with military equipment, training and advising, and also supporting Ukrainian aspirations to join NATO.
Economic: By offering support in reforming the country through demonopolization of industry and markets, including breaking the oligarchical monopolies and their influence on the government policy. We also understand support as including lobbying for help from the IMF, World Bank, EU, as well as bilateral agreements with leading democratic and free-market countries .
Social: By stimulating joint initiatives on various levels, including the exchange of experience and practices through visits in the most important institutions of public administration, thereby creating and opening up employment possibilities.
Cultural and scientific: Through supporting joint initiatives to promote Ukrainian culture and science in the EU, organizing scholarships for Ukrainians, and preserving the common cultural heritage.
Energy security: Through technological and capital support for Ukrainian gas, oil and coal mining industries. The abundance of Ukrainian natural resource deposits may impact the future economic security of the entire EU.
Ukraine has been attacked by Moscow because the success of civil society in our neighbor would encourage reforms in Russia itself. If we lose the fight for a sovereign and democratic Ukraine, we should be prepared for a powerful wave of refugees to Poland and the EU, and a zone of chaos and instability – administered by Moscow – will emerge beyond our border. Under such conditions, Russia would continue its imperial expansion into its former “zone of influence.” Our best effort should therefore be given to stop the Moscow’s aggression. Every month of delay, and every concession, is time given [to Russia] to resurrect the old empire through its aggressive policy toward the democratic world and authoritarian rule over its own society.
The current policy of Europe and the whole democratic world denies the political vision of Robert Schumann, Jean Monnet and Konrad Adenauer. The citizens of Ukraine, with their determination up to the point of sacrificing their own lives, are trying to change the geopolitical situation of the eastern part of Europe. They will be able to achieve it with our help. Such change will provide the stability and safety in this part of our continent that is so crucial for Europe and the world. In the 21st century, the cooperation of our nations is necessary for the whole community of democratic countries. Only by rebuilding it will we be able to tell those fallen and martyred in our fratricidal fights that their sacrifice was not futile.
We present ourselves as those who were ready to pay for Poland’s freedom, not waiting until someone gave it to us as a gift, and those who protected freedom even from indigenous oppressors. Therefore today we say this is the last moment to help Ukrainians, to support their commitment to our common cause. While citizens of Ukraine are showing that they are capable of even the highest sacrifice, it is not our words that are needed, but action.
Zbigniew Bujak, Paweł Trzciński,
Zofia Romaszewska, Jan Piekło,
Czesław Bielecki, Jan Krzysztof Kelus,
Bogdan Lis, Mirosław Chojecki,
Maciej Zięba OP*, Tadeusz Jedynak,
Władysław Frasyniuk, Zbigniew Janas,
Jan Malicki, Kazimierz Wóycicki,
* Ordo Praedicatorum