Antonina Michałowska
phone: |+48| 22 536 02 54
Krzysztof Mrozek
phone: |+48| 22 536 02 08

The Poland-Ukraine Forum

The last two decades have brought huge, and mostly positive, changes in Polish-Ukrainian relations. However, the intensity of mutual contacts has decreased recently; regular meetings are no longer held between Polish and Ukrainian communities and fewer and fewer important discussions are taking place. This is due to a decline in Poland’s interest in its eastern neighbour as it entered European structures as well as its disillusionment with the developments in Ukraine. The Forum strives to reverse these trends and to revive contacts between representatives of intellectual, political and cultural elites in both countries.

The Forum brings together politicians, experts, NGO activists, journalists and opinion leaders from Poland and Ukraine. Regular meetings enable the exchange of ideas and opinions, help to improve the understanding of the situations in both countries and promote stronger ties between representatives of both nations. The discussions held within the framework of the Forum go beyond bilateral relations and focus on issues that are relevant for both countries: internal matters as well as international politics and global challenges. Within the Forum, smaller meetings are also held which involve experts and specialists in the subject at hand.

The Forum is accompanied by public debates and conferences attended by Forum participants.

In 2017 The Polish-Ukrainian Dialogue Group was created. The group gathers experts who have been involved in the cooperation between our countries for many years. The Group is a grassroots, non-governmental initiative whose primary goal is to formulate constructive solutions to the problems in relations between Poland and Ukraine in the new geopolitical situation.

5th Poland-Ukraine Forum
10th-11th October 2016

The theme of the 5th Poland-Ukraine Forum was identity politics in the two countries. The (co-)authors/creators of these policies are not only state institutions, but also political parties and movements, and social and religious organisations. Identity politics, including but not limited to the politics of memory, is mostly aimed at achieving internal gains (integration of the community) but also at domination over competing narratives and political projects. This can lead to tensions and disputes within the country, but also to an external conflict due to the complex historical relations between neighbours, as is the case with Poland and Ukraine.
The Revolution of Dignity and the Russian annexation of Crimea which followed have fundamentally influenced the identity of many Ukrainians. They accelerated the process of creating a political nation built to a large extent on distance to or even hostility towards Russia. Deep changes have also taken place in the identity politics created by the Ukrainian state, as well as by other social actors. This policy increasingly refers to the tradition of Ukrainian national movements from the end of the 19th century and the first half of the 20th century.
Questions related to identity have also been raised in Poland in recent years. They relate to the dispute over the model of modernisation adopted after 1989, the attitude towards tradition and the view of the past, mostly the 20th century, including the post-1989 transformation. We can even talk about attempts to significantly re-evaluate Polish history. The politics of memory has become the main tool for the creation of a community by the ruling elite. These changes affect the attitude which Poles have towards Europe and their relations with Poland’s neighbours. Recent decisions regarding Volhynia taken by the Polish Sejm and Senate (the lower and upper house of parliament), have caused adverse social and political reactions in Ukraine.
To discuss these issues we invited about 40 people from Ukraine and Poland; politicians, experts, historians and publicists. During two sessions moderated by the Chairman of the Stefan Batory Foundation, Aleksander Smolar, and the Head of the International Renaissance Foundation, Oleksandr Sushko, the participants pondered how to overcome problems and build dialogue between Poland and Ukraine while respecting the memory and history of both nations.

A public conference – Ukraine – building a contemporary identity took place on the second day of the forum. 

4th Forum – Poland and Ukraine in Europe
23rd-24th May 2016

Discussions during the 5th Forum focused on the situation in Poland and Ukraine, in a European context. The change of government in Poland, the significant re-evaluation of foreign policy, and the conflict with the European Commission caused by the government disrespecting the rulings of the Constitutional Court, have all called into question Warsaw’s role as an advocate of Ukraine’s interests in Europe and a model for Kiev to follow. Meanwhile, the situation in Ukraine remains unstable. Even though the current government declares it is ready to carry out reforms, it is becoming increasingly common to hear voices claiming the reforms are too slow or nonexistent. In the meantime, the Russia-caused conflict in Ukraine may worsen if Moscow so wishes. The members of the forum were also considering to what extent the current situation is a repetition of the post-Orange Revolution period and whether the current government really wants to reform the country.
Aleksander Smolar, head of the Stefan Batory Foundation prepared the introductory remarks for the Polish session, and Oleksandr Sushko, head of the International Renaissance Foundation, was responsible for the Ukrainian part. 17 participants from Poland and 22 from Ukraine participated in the meeting.

A public conference Poland in the world was a parallel event of the 4th Forum.

3rd Forum – Security policy
1st-2nd October 2015

The Security Policy of Poland and Ukraine was the main topic of the 3rd Forum. The armed conflict in Eastern Ukraine and Russia’s policy are perceived as a threat for Poland. Ukraine is creating its security policy from scratch and it is in this context that it is aspiring for NATO and EU membership. The definition of security policy is changing, so are the challenges the countries face. The scale of the new challenges can be seen through the ongoing hybrid war in Eastern Ukraine. Both classically understood security policy, as well as foreign policy, are insufficient to cope with such conflicts. Therefore, the meeting concerned not only the foreign and security policy of both countries, but also other forms of security – economic, information etc. In the discussion we wanted to focus on the challenges Poland and Ukraine face and on the ways of responding to them. We asked what trump cards/strengths both countries have and what their weaknesses are.

The introductory remarks for the discussion were prepared by: Aleksander Smolar (chairman of the Stefan Batory Foundation) – “Security Policy – Poland” – and Volodymyr Fesenko (Centre for Applied Political Research “Penta”, Kiev) – “Security Policy – Ukraine”. The discussion was concluded by Borys Tarasyuk (former foreign minister of Ukraine). 23 people from Poland and 17 from Ukraine took part in the meeting.  (see: Participants)

The public conference Ukraine’s security policy was a parallel event of the 3rd Forum.
A special supplement entitled “Poland and Ukraine’s security policy” was published in “Tygodnik Powszechny”.

The project was co-financed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs as part of the call for projects in the field of “Support for the local governance and civil dimension of Polish foreign policy”.

2nd Forum: The Politics of Memory
20–21 June 2013 
The topic of the meeting was the politics of memory in Poland and Ukraine. After the changes that occurred from 1989 to 1991, disputes continued in both countries concerning the role of the state in constructing national identity and cultivating memory. The discussions focused on the extent to which the state can and should influence what its citizens remember and how they feel about their memories. They concerned what the model of education should be and its desired impact on civic attitudes. Conversations held during the Forum concerned Polish and Ukrainian experiences with historical policies and the politics of memory as well as their past and present roles in domestic and foreign policy, especially in relations with neighbouring countries.
The discussion was introduced by two papers: The Politics of Identity and Memory in Poland by Andrzej Friszke (Institute of Political Studies of the Polish Academy of Sciences) and The Politics of Identity and Memory in Ukraine by Maksim Stricha (Faculty of Humanities of the Borys Grinchenko Kyiv University). The meeting was attended by 31 participants from Poland and 19 from Ukraine (see: Participants)
The 2nd Forum was accompanied by a public conference entitled Memory of the 20th Century and the Present Day. Ukrainian Disputes about the Past.
The project was co-financed by the Department of Public and Cultural Diplomacy of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Poland within the framework of the Cooperation in the Field of Public Diplomacy 2013 competition.

1st Forum: Poland, Ukraine and Change in Europe
29–30 November 2012
 The topic of the 1st Forum was attitudes towards Europe expressed by both politicians and the general public in Poland and Ukraine. After the collapse of the old political system, Europe became a constant point of reference for both countries not only as a political choice, but also as a civilisational and cultural one. Participants of the Forum discussed what Europe meant for Poland as an EU Member State and examined possible Polish strategies in view of the European crisis and the institutional changes taking place within the Union. They also argued about Ukraine’s position towards Europe, the meaning of the Europeanisation of Ukraine, the conditions under which the association agreement between EU and Ukraine should be signed (if it should be signed at all) and whether it should lead to Ukraine’s accession to the Union in the future.
The discussion was introduced by two papers: Poland in Europe by Dariusz Rosati (Member of the Polish Parliament, former Minister of Foreign Affairs) and Ukraine in Europe by Oleh Shamshur (former Ukrainian Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs). The meeting was attended by 27 participants from Poland and 21 from Ukraine (see: Participants

The 1st Forum was accompanied by a public conference entitled Whither Ukraine?

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