By Monsi A. Serrano
Photos by Mau Victa
Polish Ambassador to the Philippines Jarosław Szczepankiewicz has expressed his optimism for stronger and deeper cooperation between Poland and the Philippines during the celebration of the 104th anniversary of regaining independence of Poland back in 1918.
The Polish envoy revealed during his welcome speech at the reception dinner held at The Blue Leaf Events Pavilion that during World War-II Poland disappeared from the map of Europe for 123 years after Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth had ceased to exist, a result of an arrangement between three powers: Russia, Prussia and Austria. He also noted that the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth was the first advanced republican project in Europe with greater liberty offered to its citizens.
“Today, we cherish Poland’s independence as much we feel responsible for our allies from the EU and NATO and as much we show our solidarity to true partners sharing common values with us,” Szczepankiewicz said.
As you know, since I arrived here, I have had the chance to establish Polish Embassy in Manila in 2019. During our operations in the Philippines, my team and I used all ways to build a strong partnership between Poland and the Philippines. The term “partnership” means a promise in good faith between partners who commit themselves to achieve their joint objectives.
Ambassador Szczepankiewicz reiterated his commitment to pursue sustainable economic growth and the opening up of both countries for more cooperation in various aspects such as investment, with the opening of the Polish Investment and Trade Authority in Manila, as one of the many initiatives of the Polish government to the Philippines.
“I witnessed first-hand the increased of trade exchange from 469 thousand USD in 2017 to 877 thousand USD in 2021. Our economic policy carried hand-by-hand with Polish Trade Foreign Office in the Philippines, focusing in the areas of water management, Fintech, medical technologies as well as digitalization. Poland also stands ready to provide food security to the Philippines,” he revealed.
“The Polish development cooperation is focused on building the resilience of the most vulnerable populations. In 2022, the Embassy initiated a project aiming at the professional activation of women in the city of Quezon, through tailoring courses financed under the Polish Aid,” he added.
Apart from investment, livelihood and women empowerment, Szczepankiewicz also included that security is also one of the critical programs that Poland is also helping the country with.
“The contract for the delivery of Black Hawk S-70i helicopters produced in Poland by PZL Mielec is considered as a model. All 16 helicopters were successfully delivered ahead of time. I do believe that the implementation of the new contract signed in February 2022 for additional 32 choppers will be equally successful,” Szczepankiewicz said.
Ambassador Szczepankiewicz also noted the global state of security today is alarming especially with the ongoing Russia’s invasion of Ukraine that led to war.
“What exactly is our security today? The forces of autocracy have revived in Europe and in Asia. Its hallmarks are familiar ones — contempt for the rule of law, contempt for democratic freedom, contempt for the truth itself. Today, Russia has strangled democracy, not only in its homeland. Under false claims of ethnic solidarity, it has unprovoked invaded Ukraine. “Ukraine” means “borderland”. Today, as our borders are defined by shared values, Ukrainian borders are borders of our own freedom and democracy and every country’s sovereignty and independence,” he said.
“We stand with Ukraine!” and the first words of Polish Pope Saint John Paul II after his election during his first public address, “Be not afraid.”