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Poland values historical links with Pakistan; says Ambassador

ISLAMABAD: Ambassador of Poland to Pakistan Mr. Piotr A. Opalinski has said that Poland values its historical links with Pakistan and enjoys the multifaceted collaboration. Currently, the two countries are significantly developing their political, economic and defence cooperation.

The current trade volume is reaching a half billion Euro and there are good prospects for the further growth of their bilateral trade. Peace and stability is the key for the development of the region. Poland supports the peace process in Afghanistan and acknowledges Pakistan’s efforts in facilitating the talks between the US and Taliban.

Talking to the ‘Online News Agency’ in an exclusive interview, the Polish Ambassador Mr. Piotr Opalinski said that the relations between Pakistan and Poland are ‘excellent and very cordial’. He pointed out both at the ongoing political dialogue as well as enhancement of economic cooperation, especially in the areas of energy and exploration of natural resources, in which Polish companies have been engaged in Pakistan since last 20 years.

He said that Poland’s vast expertise and long tradition in coal mining, defence production, agriculture and food processing offered new opportunities for the mutually beneficial cooperation in these areas as well.

Ambassador said that Poland supported the inclusion of Pakistan in the GSP Plus by the European Union (EU) to grant non-reciprocal preferential treatment to Pakistan’s exports. He emphasized that the geographical location of Poland in the exact centre of Europe made it very suitable to become a hub for Pakistani products designed for the European market. The bilateral trade volume in 2018 rose to about 500 million Euros. The trade balance is in favour of Pakistani exports, mainly textiles (90 percent), with a relatively smaller share of leather products, sportswear, foodstuff and surgical instruments.

Ambassador Opalinski also said, in the area of development cooperation Poland was directly working with Pakistani partners – local organizations capable of a very efficient implementation of the projects. Some of the best examples of educational projects supported i.e. by the Polish Embassy were the primary schools in Kaghan Valley and Bari Imam area of Islamabad. They are providing quality education, counselling and medical care for the children.

Answering a question about visa policy, the Ambassador said it was based on the common Schengen Visa Code, as Poland, being one of 26 Schengen Member States, issues the visas allowing for a border-free movement of travelers in the whole area in all categories of travels – businessmen, tourists, students etc. The available statistics indicate that the number of visitors from Pakistan to Poland is gradually increasing.

Talking about the regional and international situation, the Ambassador appreciated Pakistan’s role in the Afghan peace process and its efforts in facilitating the talks between the US leadership and Taliban. Poland wholeheartedly supports peaceful resolution of the protracted conflict in Afghanistan, to the benefit, stability and development of the whole region.

Recollecting his very good personal experiences of nearly ten years of diplomatic service in Pakistan (first tenure as Deputy Head of Mission and now as Ambassador) Mr Piotr Opalinski said the Polish-Pakistani friendship, transcending through different times and geographical distance was deeply-rooted in history and time-tested. He referred to the memories of Polish refugees who were granted shelter in Karachi during the World War and to the Polish pilots, who made a great contribution to the development of the PAF and civil aviation at the nascent stage of Pakistan’s statehood.

He said, all this, and more fascinating stories of Polish-Pakistani personal relations of friendship, would be described in an excellent book “Freedom Under the Pakistani Sky” by Polish author Mrs. Anna T. Pietraszek, which is going to be launched in Pakistan later this year.

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