close

  • Faithful to my Homeland, the Republic of Poland

     

  • NEWS

  • 17 December 2018

    Following the broadcast of the BBC News film “The Struggle for Poland’s Future”, Ambassador Arkady Rzegocki responded in a letter to the editors.

    London, 17 December 2018

    Dear BBC Editors,

     

    Having watched Yalda Hakim’s documentary “The Struggle for Poland’s Future” on BBC News on   15 December, I feel I have to fill in the gaps in the report to paint a more complete and fair picture of my compatriots and homeland.

     

    The representation of the Polish nation as divided, opposing immigration and struggling to find its direction due to its identity is far from the truth. This year, Poles all around the world united in celebrations of the 100th anniversary of Poland regaining independence. The largest, the Independence March in Warsaw, gathered around 250,000 people wanting to express the patriotic feelings for their country and heroes. While the march did include some groups with extremist views, by and large it was a peaceful and safe demonstration, which included a wide cross-section of the society, including young people, the elderly and families with children. It was an improvement on last year, with the government and the organisers cooperating to make this important celebration happen.

     

    Yes, the Polish identity is rooted in Christianity. Our religion, and leaders including Pope John Paul II, kept up our spirits through decades of communist occupation and have taught us to be tolerant towards other people. Therefore, I am sorry to learn of the stories of those who have experienced discrimination on our soil. Let me be clear, however, that there is no place for xenophobia in Poland. Polish President Andrzej Duda has emphasised that “such an attitude means exclusion from our society”. Our country is open to people of other nationalities: in the last few years more than 1 million Ukrainians and Belarusians have come to Poland. And as for the claim that the sense of identity has overturned the outward-looking view on the future which accompanied Poland’s accession to the European Union, a June survey by the CBOS polling agency found that 88% of Polish people supported their country’s EU membership.

     

    Every nation has a right to its sovereignty and for a nation that has suffered so much from totalitarian regimes in the last century the feeling is so much more profound and cherished. For those claiming that it creates an identity crisis in Poland, let me reassure you: in every democracy – and Poland’s government was chosen in free elections – there is a robust discussion around the political situation. But regardless of the status of the debate, Poland is a forward-looking, dynamic, open EU country, which is mindful and proud of its history. The Polish society has many more faces and many more stories than was shown in the BBC programme. Remember that next time you visit Poland.

     

    Yours faithfully,

     

    Arkady Rzegocki

    Print Print Share: