Polish-Ukrainian relations were established soon after Ukraine gained independence from the Soviet Union in the early 1990s. They have been improving since, with Poland and Ukraine forming a strong strategic partnership. Various controversies from their shared history occasionally resurface in Polish-Ukrainian relations, but they are not having a major influence on the bilateral relations of Poland and Ukraine.
They are the second and third largest Slavic countries, after Russia. Both countries share a border of about 529 km. Poland's acceptance of the Schengen Agreement created problems with the Ukrainian border traffic. On July 1, 2009 an agreement on local border traffic between the two countries came into effect, which enables Ukrainian citizens living in border regions to cross the Polish frontier according to a liberalized procedure.
Ukraine is the country with the largest number of Polish consulates.
History of relations
Polish-Ukrainian relations can be traced to the 16th-17th centuries in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth and the often turbulent relations between that state and the mostly polonized nobility (szlachta) and the Cossacks. And even further into the 13-14th centuries when the Kingdom of Poland and the Ruthenian Kingdom carried close ties.
The next stage would be the relations in the years 1918-1920, in the aftermath of World War I, which saw both the Polish-Ukrainian War and the Polish-Ukrainian alliance. The interwar period would eventually see independent Poland while the Ukrainians had no state of their own, being divided between Poland and the Soviet Union. This led to a deterioration of Polish-Ukrainian relations, and would result in a flare-up of ethnic tensions during and immediately after World War II (massacres of Poles in Volhynia and Operation Vistula being the most infamous).
While this left the Polish-Ukrainian relations in the mid-20th century in a relatively poor state, there was little meaningful and independent diplomacy and contact between the People's Republic of Poland and the Ukrainian SSR. The situation changed significantly with the fall of communism, when both Poland and Ukraine became fully independent and could once again decide on foreign policies of their own.
On October 13, 1990 Poland and Ukraine agreed to the "Declaration on the foundations and general directions in the development of Polish-Ukrainian relations". Article 3 of this declaration said that neither country has any territorial claims against the other, and will not bring any in the future. Both countries promised to respect the rights of national minorities on their territories and to improve the situation of minorities in their countries. This declaration re-affirmed the historic and ethnic ties between Poland and Ukraine, containing a reference to "the ethnic and cultural kinship of the Polish and Ukrainian peoples".
Support for Ukrainian sovereignty has become an important component of Polish foreign policy. Poland strongly supported the peaceful and democratic resolution of the 2004 Orange Revolution in Ukraine, and has backed NATO-Ukraine cooperation (such as the Lithuanian–Polish–Ukrainian Brigade), as well as Ukraine's efforts to join the European Union.
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