Polish reactions to Ukraine presidential election

26-11-2004

Orange ribbons and scarves were all the rage in Poland this week as Poles put on a show of solidarity with Ukraine's pro-democracy movement. Poland has an eastern border with Ukraine and is also the European Union frontier. It's a country where concern with developments in Ukraine is deepest. Both Solidarity legend Lech Walesa and President Aleksander Kwasniewski went to Kiev in a bid to mediate in Ukraine's electoral crisis:

Opposition candidate Viktor Yushchenko, photo: CTKOpposition candidate Viktor Yushchenko, photo: CTK "We stand united with the hundreds of thousands of people who are out in the streets of Kiev, Lviv and other cities of Ukraine and who will remain there till victory is theirs".

...Those are the most often repeated words of sympathizers of the Orange Forces - as groups of opposition leader Viktor Yushchenko have been dubbed here, because of the color they had adopted during the presidential campaign.

Andrzej Rybalt, head of Radio Polonia's Ukrainian section says a great awareness has been ignited in Ukraine:

"For the first time, not only from the moment of regaining independence in the contemporary history of Ukraine, a breakthrough has taken place among that country's society and political elites. A kind of unity has been personified by Viktor Yushchenko, the opposition leader, to defend the right to a freedom of choice. Everything points to the fact that regardless of the turn of events in Ukraine in the nearest days or weeks there seems to have been reached a point of no return in civic thinking there and the people will not allow this feeling of freedom be taken away from them."

Ukraine, photo: CTKUkraine, photo: CTK Poland has always been an advocate of the democratization process in Ukraine and has not abandoned its neighbor at a time of need. President Aleksander Kwasniewski has offered to mediate between the authorities and opposition at their request, while former Polish president, charismatic Solidarity leader and Nobel laureate Lech Walesa went to Kiev to help democracy hungry Ukrainians champion their cause in Liberty Square.

The Polish parliament adopted a special resolution on Ukraine, condemning fraudulent election practices and urging authorities to acknowledge the will of Ukrainian people to live in a free and democratic state. Although Polish MPs are hoping for a similar move on the part of the European Union, some like Bronislaw Komorowski of the Civic Platform, voice scepticism with regard to certain political inertia.

Ukraine, photo: CTKUkraine, photo: CTK "I'm suspecting that at least some of these countries perceive their reluctance as a virtue, while in reality there's a logic to this. I'm sure many western politicians would be willing to sacrifice Ukraine for the sake of good relations with Russia, especially that this cause is fuelled - literally - by Russian gas, as in the case of Germany. It is important the United States have taken a tough stand on the issue."

Political commentator Piotr Mroczyk also sees the need for more concerted international effort.

"It is the awakening of the Ukrainian society and I think that took everybody by surprise, especially the European community, which has been so far rather passive about what's going on in the Ukraine."

Meanwhile, Poles have been manifesting a strong will to assist their Ukrainian brothers in their quest for true democracy. As in many Polish cities over the last days, demonstrators in the capital voiced loud support.

26-11-2004