H.E. Pawel Lechowicz
Ambassador of Poland
By Reaven D’Souza
Ambassador of Poland H.E. Pawel Lechowicz comes across as a calm and composed diplomat with a keen sense of observation on developments around the world. In a recent exclusive interview with the Managing Editor of The Times Kuwait, Ambassador Lechowicz spoke at length on the strong Polish-Kuwaiti relations that exist and continue to grow in various domains.
He pointed to the huge potential for state entities, private companies and individuals in Kuwait to invest in his country, and underscored that Poland was among few countries in the European Union (EU) that has consistently demonstrated positive GDP growth over the past nearly three decades. He also noted that there was ample space for more Polish companies to be involved in Kuwait’s strategic Vision 2035 development plan.
The ambassador began the informative interview by disclosing what led him to choose diplomacy as a career, and how his university graduation in history primed him for a job in the diplomatic cadre of his country.
“For me, working in diplomacy is the perfect combination of a career that allows you to explore and discover the world, but also a career of public service and purposeful work. I graduated in history, and international relations have always been an area of deep interest to me.
Since the start of my career, I have traveled extensively and worked in the Embassy of Poland in Washington DC, and I have very good memories of this period. I have been In Kuwait since 2018 and would like to underline that Kuwait and the people here have given me a very warm welcome and made my stay here an enjoyable and fruitful experience.
Regionally, Kuwait is the first Gulf country that Poland established diplomatic relations with in 1963. Polish-Kuwaiti relations are robust and devoid of any misunderstandings. This creates excellent conditions for further cooperation. I hope that our good cooperation will continue. An example of these good relations is the recent humanitarian aid donated by Kuwait for Ukrainian refugees currently in Poland. I would like to once again express my gratitude to His HIghness the Amir and to His Highness the Crown Prince for this gesture. Since the start of the war in Ukraine, more than 3,6 million displaced Ukrainians have arrived in Poland. The Government has reacted rapidly, granting them the right of temporary residence and access to key public services such as health and education, as well as social assistance, and housing. It is worth noting that places of accommodation were set up not only by the government, but a large number of private Polish homes have also hosted and provided shelter to the refugees.
Shifting from political and diplomatic ties between the two countries to bilateral relations in other fields, including in investments and the economy, as well as his efforts to enhance them since taking charge, the envoy noted: “Poland is an important and dynamic market located in the heart of Central Europe. Exporters and investors are drawn to Poland due to the country’s large population, well-educated and competitive workforce, strong prospects for economic growth and location in the center of Europe .
“The Polish economy has been growing uninterruptedly for 28 straight years now, during which time it has almost tripled its size as measured by real GDP. According to a report by McKinsey and a coverage in ‘Forbes’ magazine, Poland has a chance to develop at an annual rate of even 5 percent and to double the value of its economy by 2030. One of the greatest advantages of the Polish economy is its diversity. The Polish economy has also proven to be one of the most resilient in the European Union (EU) during the COVID-19 crisis. Polish GDP returned to pre-pandemic levels as recently as Q2 2021. The Polish Central Statistical Office now estimates that Poland’s GDP in the first quarter of 2022 was 8.5 percent higher than a year earlier.
“We are also currently working on accrediting Polish universities in Kuwait. Our universities are ready to welcome students from Kuwait. Currently hundreds students from Saudi Arabia, but much less from Kuwait, are studying in Polish universities. One of the obstacles is lack of a formal Kuwaiti accreditation for our entities, but we are working on it.
“In addition, there is strongd potential for expanding Polish-Kuwaiti cooperation in new areas related to technology. Poland has developed a number of valuable technologies, including for the oil and gas industry, as well as green technologies we can share with Kuwait.
“According to data for 2020, despite the difficult situation related to the global COVID-19 pandemic, there was a noticeable increase in our trade with Kuwait — by nearly 27 percent compared to 2019, on both sides: the Polish export (+27%) and import (+14%).
“Our turnover reached more than US$100 million last year but we believe that we can still achieve more. Moreover, we are always interested in intensifying trade with Kuwait. Recently I took part in the agri-food products export forum in Poland. I tried to present to Polish exporters the immense business possibilities in Kuwait.
“Poland also sees an opportunity to expand cooperation between our countries by involving Polish companies in projects related to Kuwait’s Vision 2035 development plan. As part of this plan to develop the country, the Kuwaiti government is implementing a number of mega projects worth approximately US$130 billion, which creates potential opportunities for interested Polish companies.
Turning to tourism in his country, its rich history, culture and heritage, and to the variety of natural scenic surroundings, the ambassador stated: “Poland is a country with a long tradition of over a thousand years and a turbulent history.
This is evidenced by the numerous monuments of ancient settlement, defensive, sacral or industrial architecture. The multitude and variety of those sights attract visitors from all over the world, and all of whom are kindly and professionally welcomed.
‘Moreover, there is something for everyone in Poland! There are numerous castles, palaces and mansions, mostly surrounded by historic and beautifully maintained gardens. Naturally, it is worth starting your adventure with castles and palaces from the most famous, largest, and those entered into the UNESCO World Heritage list, or having great significance for the cultural and historical heritage of our country. Among these are: The Wawel Royal Castle, the Royal Castle in Warsaw, the Castle in Malbork.
“There are also many archaeological sites (e.g., the Archaeological Museum in Biskupin, the Slavs and Vikings Center in Wolin), mighty forts and fortifications erected for military purposes, monuments of technology and industry, including the UNESCO-listed salt mines in Wieliczka and Bochnia, wooden architectures, all of which create a rich array of opportunities to visit our country.
“These edifices have been created throughout history, under different conditions, often as a result of the clash of influences between Western European and Eastern cultures. Today, those historical sites are offered to our guests as attractions or products of special value. Some serve as museums, and some are used directly to serve visitors as hotels or conference centers.
Additionally, for nature-loving tourists there are plenty of sites to see. These include national parks, over 120 landscape parks, numerous urban parks and gardens, and those embedded in the landscape of small towns, villages and green areas. The tourist will see coastal and mountain, lowland and upland landscapes; they will see rivers, ponds and lakes, forests, woods and primeval forests.
There is a lot to see in Poland and every tourist will find something special for themselves. “Poland and Kuwait also cooperate on many other levels, for example through the agreement on cultural cooperation the Polish-Kuwaiti Archaeological Mission has been conducting excavations in Kuwait. The Center of Mediterranean Archaeology of the University of Warsaw established successful cooperation with the Kuwait National Council for Culture, Arts and Literature (NCCAL). The Kuwaiti-Polish Archaeological Mission headed by Prof. Piotr Bieliński discovered at the Bahra 1 site in Kuwait a structure that may be interpreted as a cultic building from the 6th millennium BC. If further research confirms these observations, this will be the oldest building of such function not just in Kuwait but in the whole Gulf region.
“Additionally in Kuwait there are Polish musicians, who are actively participating in the artistic life of Kuwait. They also closely collaborate with the Embassy and we hosted several musical events in our premises.
“Moreover in June, in collaboration with the NCCAL we will organize an exhibition about the life of Wacław Seweryn Rewuski in Ahmad Al-Adwani Art Gallery. The life and work of Rzewuski provides a unique bridge linking two worlds, Polish and Arab. Getting to know the story of our Polish hero, we begin to understand that although these worlds seem to be very different, on many planes they were capable of becoming very close indeed.
Rzewuski was a person who transferred European values and ideas to Arab ground and Arab values and ideas to European ground. The story of Rzewuski’s life provides material of no less impact than that of Lawrence of Arabia, while descriptions of his adventures and travels in the Middle East provide all but complete film scripts or strips, no less absorbing than those relating the adventures of Indiana Jones.”
Ambassador Le concluded the interview by extending his congratulations to the Kuwaiti leadership, the Government, and to the people of Kuwait, and his best wishes for peace and prosperity to prevail in Kuwait.