22 May 2022, 04:49 PM

Ukrainians ‘not refugees, but guests’ in Poland, country’s President Duda says in Ukrainian parliament

Polish President Andjey Duda made an official visit to Kyiv on May22, speaking in the nation’s capital at the Verkhovna Rada, the Ukrainian parliament.

 “The Polish people are grateful to you for your resistance, boldness and ability to defend your Motherland,” the Polish president said, according to a report by the Center for Strategic Communication and Information Security, a Ukrainian government anti-disinformation agency.

“After Bucha, Borodyanka and Mariupol, you can’t really have any business with the Russian Federation,” Duda said.

“You are Ukrainians. You are not refugees to us. You are our guests. We’ll do our best to help Ukraine become a member-state of the European Union.

“No one will ever be able to break our unity - neither hostile politicians, nor foreign agents on the jury at the Eurovision (song contest)!” Duda said, joking referring to the Ukrainian jury’s failure to award full points to the Polish entry at this years Eurovision, which Ukraine won.

So far, Poland remains a key supporter of Ukraine in its aspiration to join the EU as its 28th member state. Ukraine’s European policy is also actively supported by Germany, Portugal, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.

Prior to the war, several polls conducted by European sociology groups showed a growing level of support among the publics of EU countries to accept Ukraine as a member state.

However, Ukraine’s public support has been substantially greater in Canada and the United States, where much of the country’s diaspora live.

Since the beginning of the war, almost 6 million Ukrainians have become refugees, according to the United Nations. Another 6 million were living abroad prior to the start of Russia’s full-scale invasion of the country, and identified themselves as Ukrainian nationals.

During Duda’s visit, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky announced he would propose that the Verkhovna Rada pass a law granting a special legal status to Polish citizens. The law is expected to be submitted to the Rada soon.

Before the war, Zelensky was supportive of introducing dual citizenship schemes for those Ukrainians who obtained foreign citizenship. The Ukrainian diaspora community has been very supportive of this measure.

According to the Interior Ministry, as many as 500,000 foreign citizens were residing in Ukraine prior to Feb. 24, when the Russian army started a full-scale invasion. Most of them came from Russia and other post-Soviet countries.

However, in 2021 Ukraine also saw an inflow of migrants from Central Asian and Arabic countries.

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