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Poland honors birth of modern Constitution

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Published : 2017-05-16 18:06
Updated : 2017-05-16 18:08

The Polish Embassy last week marked the birth of the country’s modern Constitution, the second of its kind in the world following the US Constitution of 1787.

On every May 3 in Poland, people celebrate the creation of the supreme law in 1791, which has been credited with ushering in modern democracy and national development in the Central European country. Next year will be the centenary of Poland’s independence and in 2019, Poland and Korea will mark 30 years of diplomatic relations.

“Our Polish-Korean Strategic Partnership is developing dynamically through various projects, programs and exchanges,” the Polish Embassy’s Charge d’affaires Joanna Wasiewska said in a speech at a reception Wednesday.

She highlighted the visit of Polish Foreign Minister Witold Waszczykowski to Korea last October, during which he signed the second part of an action plan for implementing strategic partnership from 2017-2020. 

The Polish Embassy’s Charge d’affaires Joanna Wasiewska (center in a dress) and other foreign and Korean diplomats at the National Day reception in Seoul on May 10 (Polish Embassy)

Poland and Korea recorded a trade turnover of more than $3.5 billion last year, and Polish exports grew more than 16 percent during the same period to $500 million. LG Chem announced its plan to build a production plant for electric car batteries in Kobierzyce, the first investment of its kind in Europe.

Waszczykowski flew to Korea on the LOT Polish Airlines’ Boeing 787 Dreamliner, which started offering nonstop service between Warsaw and Seoul for the first time. From July, the airline will offer the flights five times per week.

The air carrier provides business class, premium economy class and economy class with connections to nearly 60 European destinations.

“For the last 64 years, Poland has continually strengthened security in and around the Korean Peninsula as a member of the Neutral Nations Supervisory Commission,” noted Wasiewska. “With the currently unstable situation unfolding just behind our eastern border, including ongoing military conflicts, we are particularly sensitive to national security issues. We understand perfectly that security can only be achieved through close cooperation with other partners.”

Polish staff to the commission -- birthed from the Korean Armistice Agreement signed on July 27, 1953, and tasked with holding inspections and investigations to prevent military reinforcements from being brought into the peninsula -- has been expanded from this year.

Korea has also contributed to modernizing the Polish military’s equipment by co-producing the self-propelled howitzers in Poland, said Korea’s Deputy Foreign Minister for Economic Affairs Lee Tae-ho in a speech.

“Poland has faced many challenges parallel to those of Korea,” he said. “Nevertheless, the Poles have remained pioneers, never losing their national identity and eventually succeeding in building the prosperous and peaceful Poland of today.”

The two countries have great potential for deepening cooperation in trade and investment, transport, infrastructure and energy, Lee stressed.

During the reception, former Korean Ambassador to Poland Hong Ji-in, who served there from 2014-16, was awarded the Commander’s Cross of the Order of Merit by the Polish government for his contributions to enhancing bilateral ties.

In a separate event on April 30, the Polish Day festival was held at Cheonggye Plaza in Seoul, featuring the country’s folk art, music, literature, food, pottery, jewelry and cosmetics. Members of the Korea-Poland friendship association Pro Polonia and students from the Polish faculty at Hankuk University of Foreign Studies in Seoul, Keimyung University in Daegu and Kyungpook National University in Daegu helped organize the event.

In Poland last June, more than 10,000 Poles participated in the Korea Festival in Warsaw, an annual event showcasing Korean movies, food and pop music.

Since 1989, the two-way trade volume has grown more than 53 times to $3.7 billion in 2015. Korea is the second-largest Asian investor in Poland, while Poland is Korea’s largest investment market in Central and Eastern Europe and the eighth-largest trade partner worldwide.

By Joel Lee (joel@heraldcorp.com)