Monday, July 15, 2024

Conflicts past and present form backdrop to historic Poland visit

Polish refugees arriving in New Zealand during World War II and the extreme human impacts of the war in Ukraine were themes of Foreign Minister Winston Peters’ visit to Warsaw today. 

“This year marks the 80th Anniversary of the arrival on our shores of Polish refugee children and their carers during World War II,” says Mr Peters, who will have talks with Foreign Minister, Radosław Sikorski.

It is the first visit in a decade by a New Zealand Foreign Minister to Poland – and a return for Mr Peters who visited Warsaw as Foreign Minister in 2006.

“This is a significant anniversary in our bilateral relations, and we were pleased to present to Foreign Minister Sikorski newly released files from Archives New Zealand which will help researchers and historians in both countries continue to tell this story for a new generation.” 

The two Ministers also discussed Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, exchanged views on current security challenges in Europe, the Middle East and the Indo-Pacific, as well as opportunities for economic cooperation.

“Poland is one of our closest partners in central and eastern Europe, with whom we share many values and strategic interests,” Mr Peters says.

“It is important to be here on NATO’s Eastern flank to learn more about the security challenges facing Europe as a result of Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine – especially ahead of the NATO Foreign Ministers’ Meeting in Brussels later this week.

“As one of the fastest-growing economies in Europe for the past 30 years, there will be many new opportunities to grow trade between our two countries under the new New Zealand-European Union Free Trade Agreement.”

Mr Peters also visited Ukraine House, a Ukrainian-led community organisation for refugees that is supported by the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR).

“It was humbling to interact with a few of the around one million Ukrainians who have fled to Poland as a result of Russia’s invasion and hear of their harrowing experiences. New Zealand and Poland share an unwavering commitment to supporting Ukraine’s defence against Russia’s aggression.

“New Zealand continues to provide support for Ukraine, including for its people forced to flee to neighbouring countries. New Zealand’s latest support package for Ukraine, announced in February, included $7 million in humanitarian assistance – including $1.4 million to UNHCR to support its protection and assistance programmes for refugees in countries like Poland.”

A complete set of the Poland refugee files can be found and downloaded at the links below:

Volume one

Volume two

Volume three

Volume four.

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