Restoring, not setting up RP-Polish diplomatic ties
FROM A DISTANCE - Carmen N. Pedrosa () - October 26, 2002 - 12:00am
WARSAW: We are here at a propitious time when EU enlargement is imminent but, because the Philippines does not enjoy formal diplomatic relations with our Polish hosts, officials are hard put to point just what could be done for better relations with the country except in general terms. In our talks with officials, Malaysia’s Prime Minister Mahathir is referred to again and again, so is Indonesia’s President Megawati for their pioneering contacts with Poland as an alternative source of military equipment as well as industrial machinery. India is also ahead in looking at the merits of Polish products described as comparable to the best products in the West for half the price. Malaysia’s order for tanks is a multibillion-dollar order and Indonesia is eyeing ships and shipyards.
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In the briefing given to our group by presidents Roman Baczynski and Arkadus Krezel of Foreign Trade Enterprise BUMAR Ltd. and Industrial Development Agency, it became increasingly clear that the Philippines is missing out on something that our ASEAN neighbors are already well into – upgrading their military and industrial capability by taking advantage of a cheaper but comparable source of technology from the superpowers. Thailand may still be window shopping but members of the royal family and the Polish president’s wife have recently exchanged social visits. It is getting to know all about Asia time here even as they go full steam ahead with entry to the EU. No wonder. If the Poles would like to see their country as the bridge between Europe and Asia it has to do with their geographic location, Poland being what the British historian Norman Davies referred to as "the heart of Europe".
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On every occasion in this visit, I have asked my hosts how we can correct this anomaly. The Philippines, often referred to as the only Catholic country in Asia, should be deemed unimportant for permanent diplomatic relations with the Pope’s country of birth? Or perhaps I should direct my question to the Philippines. Imagine my shock when I was told that both countries have had embassies in Manila and Warsaw but these have been closed twice, once in the 80s and again in the 90s! Secretary of State Prof. Tadeusz Iwinski who went around the table talking about how important Asia was to them corrected me — please it is not about establishing direct and permanent relations but how to restore a relationship that was broken by mistake. It was time to retrace the steps that led to the break and undo the mistake. Happily, it is not too late. Perhaps it has come at an excellent time with Poland’s accession of EU and her relentless campaign to stabilize her economy under a democratic and free regime. We have much to learn and give to each other. Suddenly Poland is not a strange and faraway place but the home of many friends. "We will do everything we can to restore the ties necessary for our mutual benefit," assured Iwinski.
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A Christian-Muslim dialogue in Warsaw in April 2003. But perhaps my visit here had another reason other than trade and diplomatic opportunities. Professor Krzystof Gawlikowski, President, Director of the Center of East Asian Studies, told our group that the center has issued invitations for a world conference on a "Dialogue Among Civilizations — the Key to a Safe Future" on 23-26 April next year. They have invited Dr. Samuel Huntington of The Clash of Civilizations fame as well as a host of experts and dignitaries to join a round table. This is the sort of event we have been mulling on and would have organized one ourselves in Manila so it was fate that brought us together at this time. The planning for the Warsaw conference was done early this year on the initiative of the Association of Polish Asia and Pacific Council as the main organization with the cooperation of the Organization of Islamic Conference in Poland, the Polish National Committee for UNESCO and the Center for East Asia Research. About 350 participants met in the building of the Polish Parliament and it was decided then that it was time to join hands and talk about the common cultural future of the West and Islam.
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No less than the Prime Minister of Poland, the Rt. Hon. Mr. Lescek Miller, has assumed patronage of the conference. Here is what he said on the round table conference: Dialogue among the centers of civilization at a time of increasingly close international cooperation and processes of globalization has become not only particularly needed, but even indispensable. Indeed, only dialogue may present the method for the resolution of successive problems and threats that humanity is facing and will continue to be faced by humanity as a whole. Otherwise it will be difficult to denote our species as homo sapiens. Poland will therefore promote at all of the European institutions the concept of its greater engagement in dialogue between civilizations and cultures, and above all in the development of instruments of confidence building and understanding between the western world and the Muslim world. We condemn of course every form of terrorism, regardless of its motives, and we support the international combat against it. We reject, however, the attempts to link it to nay religion whatsoever.
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Invited to the Honorary Committee of the conference are Secretary of State Tadeus Iwinski, HD Delfin Colomé, Asia Europe Foundation; HE Gareth Evans, President, International Crisis Group; Edmond Ysrael of Edmond Israel Foundation; HE Dr. Ahmad Jalali, President, General Conference of UNESCO; Dr. Seyed Ataollah Mohajjerani, President International Center for Dialogue among Civilizations (Teheran); Dr. F. A. Nizami, Director, Oxford Center for Islamic Studies (Oxford); HE Giandomenico Picco, Personal representative of the UN Secretary General for Dialogue Among Civilizations (New York); HRH Prince Turki Al-Faisal (Riyadh); Dr. N.N. Vohra, President India International Center (New Delhi), HE Eugeniusz Wynzera, deputy to secretary general (New York); HM Chancellor of the Chinese Academy of Science (Beijing) and others.
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I will report Philippine initiatives on Christian-Muslim dialogue to the group and have passed on Senator Loren Legarda’s bill recognizing the Sheik Karimul Makhdum Mosque as a national shrine. It was in this mosque that the groundwork for Islamic missionary works in Sulu began and spread to the neighboring areas and throughout the Philippines. This is an important move for peace between Christians and Muslims in the Philippines.
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