Witold Dzielski and Ed Schatz
Europe, Russia & Eurasia, Conflict & security, Economy & prosperity, Foreign policy, Global governance, Centre for European, Russian, and Eurasian Studies, Munk School

Polish Ambassador Witold Dzielski visits CERES

Lateral relations between Canada and Poland, Russo-Ukrainian war, the state of Poland – today and tomorrow

This past week, Poland’s Ambassador to Canada, Witold Dzielski, visited CERES to share the prospects for a strengthened Poland-Canada alliance at a time of war in Ukraine and beyond.

During his address, Ambassador Dzielski discussed Poland’s growing regional leadership in areas of security, energy, and innovation — emphasizing Poland’s strong relations with partners in Central Eastern Europe and its participation in critical regional formats, including the Three Seas Initiative and Bucharest Nine.

Ed Schatz and Witold Dzielski address the audienceHighlighting the 80 years of shared relations between Canada and Poland, the bilateral synergy between the two countries has been positive this year — with the current Russo-Ukrainian war inviting even stronger cooperation. Poland has been a vital player in buttressing support for Ukraine since the annexation of Crimea, standing out as a leader amongst global actors. By providing military support in the form of Leopard 2 tanks and fighter jets — Poland has also housed refugees, supported security measures for Canadian diplomats in Kyiv and aided the Canadian military presence guarding the eastern flank of the region.

“We can sit, or we can do something and support the self-determination of Ukraine. Poland chooses the latter,” said Dzielski

A history worth remembering

After delving into the shared history between Poland and Canada dating back to World War I when 22,000 recruits trained in Canada to fight for Poland’s independence, Ambassador Dzielski fielded questions from the audience. Related to strong Canada-Poland relations, Dzielski cites some obvious ties: development, human rights, international law, pluralism and democracy – not to mention the 1.1 million individuals of Polish origin that call Canada home.

For Dzielski, Poland’s historic alliance with Canada is a key aspect for the future. During challenging periods as well as periods of calm and prosperity, Canada and Poland have remained close as comrades, collaborators, and safeguarders of independence, territorial wholeness and freedom in the face of familiar hostility.

The way forward

When asked on the difficult topic of Ukraine’s potential accession to the EU and NATO, Ambassador Dzielski’s sense is that if the will to join is there, then there is plausibility of that happening. But the conversation doesn’t end there. For democracy and Ukraine to prevail, the objectives are clear. Poland must continue to boldly combat what Dzielski calls “war fatigue” and to lead the international community in supporting what Ukraine is going to require this upcoming spring to get ahead of on battlefield. Not just reacting but anticipating and evolving is what matters most, says Dzielski.

On the event, CERES director Ed Schatz says, “since last February, this tragic war has deeply affected Poland, with its 530km border with Ukraine. In this context, we were delighted to learn from Ambassador Dzielski about initiatives regarding Ukraine, as well as his commitment to strengthening Poland's ties with Canada.”