Why do we help?
Ukraine is Poland’s important political, economic, and security partner. Poland and Ukraine share close social, historical, and cultural ties. Before the Second World War, part of today’s Ukraine was then within the Second Polish Republic. Ukraine is home to a large Polish minority. The country is also abundant with Polish cultural heritage. In recent years, Ukraine has deepened its cooperation with the European Union: it has signed the association agreement and enjoys visa-free travel. After the Revolution of Dignity, the Ukrainian government has taken a number of measures to reform the country. Poland supports Ukraine in these efforts by backing its aspirations to integrate with the EU and by sharing Poland’s own experiences of political transition after the collapse of the communist regime. Poland is directly affected by the situation in Ukraine — the latter’s relatively low level of economic development has in recent years increased labour migration to Poland. Since 2014, Ukraine has been fighting against Russia’s armed aggression which has resulted in the illegal annexation of Crimea and the war in Donbas (eastern Ukraine). Poland is helping Ukraine to cope with their consequences.
What do we support?
In line with the Multiannual Development Cooperation Programme 2016-2020, Poland’s development cooperation for Ukraine focuses on three priorities: good governance, human capital, and entrepreneurship and the private sector. Poland also finances scholarships for Ukrainians studying in Poland.
Poland supports Ukraine in its efforts to ensure a better functioning of the public administration and to ensure citizen access to reliable and objective sources of information. The support includes courses and training for central and local government officials, involvement in the work on strategic documents, and assistance in preparing for effective fight against natural disasters and emergencies. Polish experts advise the Ukrainian authorities on the implementation of reforms, including local government reform and education reform. Polish Aid has helped to establish a number of voluntary fire brigades as well as teams of emergency medical responders and mountain rescuers, and has helped to train their members and provide them with the necessary equipment. A mountain rescue base has been established at the famous Mount Pip Ivan in the East Carpathians, and its services are also available to Polish tourists.
Following the war in eastern Ukraine and the illegal annexation of Crimea, nearly 2 million people who lived there had to leave and move to other parts of Ukraine. Ukraine cannot provide them with appropriate support on its own. That is why Poland as part of its development cooperation is helping the victims of Russian aggression to integrate into new communities and to start self-reliant living at the new place of residence. In selected Ukrainian cities, Polish Aid has funded the establishment of social and psychological support centres for families displaced from war zones. Ukrainian psychologists and psychiatrists have been offered placements and training in working with those affected by the armed conflict. Furthermore, tens of schools have been refurbished and provided with equipment.
Entrepreneurship and the private sector
Polish development cooperation funds help to improve the quality of vocational education and training, enable internally displaced persons to find a livelihood, and facilitate the business development of Ukraine’s micro- and small enterprises. Polish Aid has helped to establish enterprise support centres in several of Ukraine’s regions, prepare regional development strategies, and take measures to attract foreign investment. Created and developed in Lviv, a youth entrepreneurship incubator is an interesting initiative which promotes the social economy.
Poland’s development cooperation offers Ukrainian citizens the opportunity to study at the best Polish universities. In this way,, they gain professional education and, in addition, learn about Polish culture and language. Ukrainians are currently the largest group of foreign students in Poland, at nearly 40,000. Thanks to Polish scholarship programmes, many Ukrainian students do not pay the costs of education.
How much do we spend?
Ukraine is the largest recipient of Polish development assistance among Poland’s eastern neighbours. Between 2009 and 2018, nearly EUR 250 million was earmarked for this country. The amount represented more than 48% of the funds for all six Eastern Partnership countries. Since the Revolution of Dignity, support for Ukraine has been growing. In 2018 alone, it stood at EUR 56.52 million.
Author: Daniel Szeligowski, The Polish Institute of International Affairs