Sentiments Off, Poland Must Build Pragmatic Relations With Russia – Sejm Deputy

© Sputnik / Sergey Malgavko / Go to the photo bankCrimea, Russia. Yalta as seen from the Black Sea
Crimea, Russia. Yalta as seen from the Black Sea - Sputnik International
Sputnik discussed Russia’s economic relations with Poland with Polish economist and politician Jacek Wilk, the Sejm deputy from the Wolność party, who visited Russia’s Crimea as part of the 2018 Yalta Economic Forum.

Sputnik: From your perspective, how do you find the peninsula today?

Jacek Wilk: From what I've seen, it looks great. Poland has certain sentiments towards Crimea: who doesn't remember since high school [the] Crimean sonnets by Adam Mickiewicz? Comparing them with reality is an interesting experience. I can see that everything is wonderful and developing at a great pace. If Crimea is to become a territory of free economic zone, I believe its prospects are bright, taking into account its location and business dynamics.

READ MORE: Austrian Politician on EU-Russia Sanctions: 'The Negative Circle Must Be Broken'

Sputnik: The Russian State Duma is discussing the project of creating offshore areas in Kaliningrad. In your opinion, will Polish businessmen be interested?

Jacek Wilk: Of course. Poland has had brisk trade relations with Kaliningrad region. Cross border trading had been blooming. It has scaled down now, which I regard as a big mistake. In a way, Kaliningrad is a "trial balloon" of trade and economic relations. The role of so-called buffer zone between Poland and Russia fits it perfectly. We should be interested in supporting prompt development of economy in that region and make sure it has various kinds of tax remissions.

Sputnik: It has been said that economy entails politics. If international countertrade is present, politicians will follow business, and that will result in the easing of sanctions and more favorable climate in general. Do you agree?  

A view on Yalta from Mount Ai-Petri in Crimea. - Sputnik International
Crimea's Foreign Trade Turnover Increased by 10-15% in 2017
Jacek Wilk: For Poland it is very simple, we have to ask ourselves a question: where do our commodities have a better chance, in the West or in the East? It is true that our export to the western states is growing, however, it is still a difficult market. The Polish economy is not as competitive as in Germany, for instance. Polish commodities and services definitely have a far better chance in the eastern direction, and Polish businessmen are very interested in that. Sanctions on trade with Russia have been damaging to Poland, especially to ordinary merchants. It is obvious for people in trade and supplies that our relations with [our] eastern neighbor should be as good as possible. You are correct — the better the economic relations with a certain country are, the more cautious politicians are about anything that may ruin those relations.

Sputnik: What do they say on the sidelines of Sejm? The rhetoric reported by the media is very sharp.

Jacek Wilk: That is the rhetoric of the absurd — at least I see it that way. Right now we are in a position where for the first time in history we have no territorial disputes or arguments over ethnic minorities with Russia. There is nothing for it but improve our relations. The time has come to put an end to this absurdity and bring back good relations with Russia.    

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