13 November 2023
Polish Independence Day was recently celebrated in Pretoria, South Africa with amongst others, diplomats, government officials, business people and friends of Poland. Newly accredited Polish Ambassador to South Africa, Adam Burakowski used the opportunity to reaffirm the close relations between Poland and South Africa.
South Africa is Poland's largest trading partner in Africa. “Our trade relations constitute almost 24% of Poland's total turnover with Africa. We see South Africa as a business gateway to the entire region and would like to see that South African entrepreneurs perceive Poland in the same way - as an excellent starting point for their trade and investment expansion in the European Union,” said Burakowski.
Poland’s largest exports to South Africa include machines and mechanical devices, products of plant origin and products of the chemical industry, while the main items imported from South Africa are coal, aluminum and aluminum products and non-rail vehicles, their parts and accessories for mainly cars.
Burakowski highlighted two events which he said are clear examples of historic and cultural heritage cooperation between both countries. “In April 1943, after a difficult travel, lasting many months, a group of Polish refugees, 500 children and 59 caregivers, victims of Soviet deportations, reached South Africa. Polish refugees were warmly welcomed by the local population. A camp was established in the town of Oudtshoorn, where Polish refugees created their ‘little Poland’. The children were accommodated in buildings within the military camp. A Polish school was established there. Polish children who found refuge in the camp and after its closure in 1947 decided to stay in South Africa, actively contributed to the construction of this country, had an impact on social life and its development in every aspect. They are the foundations of the Polish community in South Africa, which today we estimate at 10-15 thousand citizens.”
The other event is the annual commemoration of the so called "Warsaw Flights". The event is organized by Warsaw Flights Commemoration Organizing Committee to commemorate the heroic "Flights over Warsaw" of the South African Air Force and Allied pilots who participated in the military mission to support the Warsaw Uprising in 1944, said Burakowski.
In an ever challenging global geopolitic and increasing conflicts around the world, Burakowski thanked the Government of South Africa for the good and fruitful meeting of President Andrzej Duda and President Cyril Ramaphosa and other Heads of States from the African continent during their visit to Ukraine and Russia in June this year. Referring to the situation in the Middle East he said that Poland condemns all acts of terrorism and unequivocally condemns violence and hostilities against civilians. “Civilians, on both sides, must be protected under international law and international humanitarian law according to international law and international humanitarian law. There are still third country nationals, including Polish, who wish to exit Gaza. Their lives are at grave risk. We call on all the parties involved to allow the civilians who wish to find their way to safety, to leave Gaza.”
Burakowski hoped that the international community would find a way to help to solve all conflicts and make the world stable, saying that he believed it is possible.