Poland is one of the advocates for the strengthening of links between Armenia and Europe. In an interview with Armenian News – NEWS.am, Poland’s Ambassador to Armenia Jerzy Nowakowski shared with his hope for the fast and efficient negotiations between Armenia and EU, pointed out to the prospects and failures in the Armenian-Polish cooperation, and wished Armenia to stay in the middle of the Western civilization.
Mr Ambassador, what do you expect from the new phase of negotiations between Armenia and the European Union launched in Brussels on 7 December 2015?
We very much appreciate the start of the negotiations. Poland is one of the advocates for the strengthening of links between Armenia and Europe. We hope for the very fast, very efficient discussion. And both sides believe in the conclusion of the negotiation process by the end of 2016. And I hope that Armenia’s links with the EU will be a continuous process, the economy of the country will take advantage of this, and European standards on human rights and humanitarian area will prevail in the country.
Was there any progress in the economic relations between Armenia and Poland in 2015?
Currently the Polish-Armenian turnover of goods is small; it’s a little more than $50 mln a year. We have a number of opportunities for the development of our business cooperation. Second, I served for over four years as a Polish Ambassador to Latvia. Despite the fact that Latvia is much closer in geographical sense to Poland, it’s the member of the European Union, and last but not least, the stereotype of Armenia is much stronger than Latvia. When I told my friends to come and visit me in Riga, saying it is a very interesting country, they said: “No, it’s far.” When I moved from Latvia to Armenia, then they said: “Ok, Armenia is a very important country. We would try to travel to Armenia as soon as possible.”
The greatest problem in the economic cooperation is related specifically to the activity of “Lubawa” CJSC in Armenia. We were hopeful that in 2015 this Polish-Armenian company would benefit, but this didn’t happen. And we consider this as the failure of 2015. Apart from this, there is a second problem: accession of Armenia to the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU). This is a big problem for our food exporters, who face phytosanitary obstacles. Armenia doesn’t have a big market, and the emergence of new requirements forces many experts to withdraw from their projects and even not make investments. Investments in Armenia, as well as Armeia’s and Poland’s cooperation with third countries are very important for Poland. I expect the economic prospects between Armenia and Poland to double or triple. But much depends on Armenia’s partners, as well as the success or failure of "Lubawa", since this is the first biggest Polish investment, and other investors study its experience.
How do you celebrate Christmas and New Year? Could you, please, speak about the Polish traditions of celebrating New Year?
Of course, there is a large number of Polish national traditions. First of all, it’s the Christmas dinner on December 24. It’s the core of the Polish Christmas traditions. We prepare not less than 12 dishes based on fish, cabbage and mushroom. Specific cakes are also baked. Another tradition is the gathering of a large family. Of course, in Armenia the traditional large family is much more important than in the European countries. Poland is somewhere between.The next tradition is that of the Holy Mass. At midnight, majority of the Polish families - regardless of the level of religious engagement of the family - walk into the church for Pasterka (liturgy in Polish).
Traditionally the first day of celebrations is oriented to the family. The second day of Christmas is frequently dedicated to the time to visit friends. And, of course, on both days many people go to church. And, last but not least, Christmas is very important time for children because it’s the time for the exchange of the gifts. We put the gifts under the Christmas tree and after the dinner children start looking for them.
What would you wish to the Armenian people?
First of all, peace - as it’s very important – prosperity, happiness. And [for Armenia] to be in the middle of the Western space, values and civilization as during the many years of Armenian history.