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Animosity between Russia and Poland not normal, lawmaker says

According to the parliamentarian, the issues creating the tensions have to do with speculations about World War II events and the territorial integrity of Ukraine

WARSAW, May 29. /TASS/. Russia and Poland must work to improve their bilateral relations, because current tensions and animosity must not be considered normal, says Maciej Gdula, a Polish Sejm lawmaker of The Left party and a member of the parliamentary commission on international relations.

"In my opinion, of course, we should work on development of Russian-Polish relations. I do not favor escalation of the [political] course or of such politics, in which the Russian-Polish tensions are used as a some kind of political fuel," he said. "I am definitely not an advocate of viewing Russia as an eternal enemy of Poland, that the relations between the two countries are at their normal level now and that this certain animosity, tensions, conflicting interests are a norm. This should not be the case."

According to the lawmaker, there are several issues that create these tensions and put Russian-Polish relations at their current state.

"This is, on the one hand, the historical policy and the issue of speculation about World War II events; on the other hand, it is Ukraine and its territorial integrity," Gdula said.

"If we talk about historical issues, I advocate aspiration for truth, representation of the World War II events the way they really were," he noted, calling to remember both the "Stalin's Katyn tragedy" and the fact that "without the USSR there would have been no victory over Nazi Germany."

"Without the sacrifice of the Soviet Soldiers, Hitler would not have been defeated, the holocaust would not have been stopped," he said. "The history of the War is complicated, but, for example, talks that the USSR is equally responsible for the World War II as the Nazi Germany is, in my opinion, does not bring us closer to the truth," Gdula said.

According to the Polish lawmaker, Poland and Russia must look for opportunities to build relations in the fields far from politics.

"Maybe, when there is the understanding that the current policy harms our relations, we will find ways to build relations beside politics. I know that it is difficult at this moment, that everything is tied to the politics and is treated in accordance with the political conjuncture. But it is possible to restore normal relations. They do not necessarily have to be warm and allied, but they could at least be satisfactory," he said.

"Building bridges between organizations, scientists, people of culture could become a way to somewhat ease the political tensions. But we cannot avert it entirely," the lawmaker added.

Return to local border traffic with Kaliningrad as way to improve relations

Reinstatement of the local border traffic between Russia’s Kaliningrad Region enclave and neighboring Polish regions would contribute to the normalization of relations between Russia and Poland, Maciej Gdula told TASS.

"I think that reestablishing the local border traffic can be one of the stages of normalization, construction of normal relations between Russia and Poland," he noted. "This will be a certain step towards forming interpersonal relationships so that not just politicians but also ordinary people themselves build ties between the two nations," the member of parliament added.

According to him, "it is of great significance for both sides." "Reinstatement of the local border traffic could have positive effects to destroy stereotypes and construct an atmosphere of trust. It can be a vital step for normalization," Gdula concluded.

Local border traffic

In 2012, Moscow and Warsaw signed an agreement on the principles of the local border traffic, setting a simplified process for Russia-Poland border-crossing travel. Residents of the Kaliningrad Region and neighboring Polish regions could cross the border without visas for up to 30 days in one trip and up to 90 days overall in 6 months.

On July 4, 2016, Poland temporarily suspended the local border traffic with the Kaliningrad Region and Ukraine, explaining this decision by the necessity to ensure security of a NATO summit held in Warsaw on July 8-9, 2016 and catholic youth events in Krakow on July 26-31, 2016. In response, Russia introduced mirror-like restrictions. Later, the Polish Interior Ministry announced that the agreement would continue to be suspended, citing security concerns and the need to fight tobacco and petrol smuggling.

The Russian Foreign Ministry earlier noted that the Russian side does not see any reasons for Poland to take the measures.