Pushing Yemeni-Polish Commercial Ties [Archives:1998/46/Law & Diplomacy]

November 16 1998

On the occasion of Poland’s 80 independence anniversary and the 41st anniversary of initiating ties with Yemen, Mr. Krzysztof Suprowicz, Ambassador of Poland to Yemen, talked to Mohammed Bin Sallam of Yemen Times.
The Polish ambassador to Yemen, Ethiopia, Eritrea and Djibouti, Suprowicz, 45, also worked for international companies operating in various parts of the Middle East. His academic degree in Arabic Philology has helped him immensely in his work.
Q: What is your impression about Yemen after over two years of working in this country, and what are your expectations with respect to the Polish mission here?
A: I came to Yemen in late September, 1996. This was my first visit to Yemen and my first mission as an ambassador. One cannot stay indifferent when confronted with the unique beauty of this country and therefore few weeks later I really fell in love with Yemen, its people, the old culture and remarkable architecture.
I have very high expectations with respect to this country’s future, especially regarding Polish-Yemeni friendly relations for which I predict a speedy growth in the nearest future. There is a great deal of reciprocal interest which soon should result in an enhanced economic, cultural and scientific cooperation.
Q: When did relations between Poland and Yemen start ?
A: The Polish-Yemeni diplomatic relations were first established on December 12, 1957. But the first strong and authentic impulse for their development came after the September 1962 Revolution. At the beginning it was in the field of educational cooperation.
The Polish government offered wide possibilities to Yemeni students. Many scholarships were given by Polish universities in medicine, engineering and economy. This particular field of cooperation has greatly contributed to establishing deeply rooted friendly relations between our two nations.
The Polish Embassy in Yemen was established after the May 22, 1990 re-unification of the country. Our embassy in Sanaa was opened in July 1991, becoming an important and indispensable element of enhancement of bilateral ties in all fields of cooperation.
Q: Where there any other, more recent impulses boosting the relations between Yemen and Poland ?
A: An important event in the 40-year-old history of our bilateral relations was the February 1996 official visit to Warsaw by Dr. Abdulkarim Al-Iryani, the then Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs. On this occasion a new agreement on scholarships between the Ministries of Education was signed as well as an agreement on cooperation between our Ministries of Foreign Affairs.
Many other subjects were discussed at the governmental level, including possibilities of Polish investments in Yemen, with a special interest for the Aden Free Zone.
Q: So what are the major spheres of interest of the Polish companies in Yemen ?
A: Basically everything is potentially of interest to Polish companies, since Yemen is genuinely in need of reliable partners in all fields of the economy.
In agriculture, for the past few years Poland has been successfully exporting its tractors and other agricultural equipment to Yemeni farmers. We hope that this sphere of cooperation will steadily grow in the future.
In the oil sector, the regulations in force in Yemen do encourage foreign investments in this field. A group of major Polish companies are looking forward to be directly involved in the Yemeni oil sector, both in the field of exploration and drilling services. The initial feasibility study has proven the expectations of the Polish side. In the nearest future we are expecting some serious negotiations to be conducted here in Sanaa.
In the food-processing industry, Polish companies have a lot of experience and possess the necessary know-how to offer to their potential partners in Yemen. At present one of our companies is being considered as a prospective partner in cold storage facility construction. Another firm has successfully executed an ice-in-block factory in Harat. There are plans to build another facility of this sort.
In the energy and power-supply sector, there is a lot of mutual interest to pursue a broader cooperation. Soon we shall witness some very positive developments in this respect. Several of our specialized companies are looking forward to be of assistance in the field of power supply, transmission lines or the overhaul and upgrading of the existing power-generating facilities.
As far as the Port of Aden and Aden Free Zone are concerned, Polish companies have confirmed interests in dockyard facilities, which need to be upgraded and brought back to order, shipping services, transit of containerized goods and all other sorts of port services.
In the fishing industry, closer ties in this sector should be beneficial to both sides. Poland has a big fishing potential, with hundreds of fishing boats, trawlers and fish-processing “mother” vessels that could be used by both countries. At the same time, while possibilities to fish in Northern Seas and in the Far East are rapidly shrinking, Yemeni territorial waters are abundant in all sorts of fish, which cannot be absorbed by domestic demand. So it is a matter of time only. Sooner rather than later, Polish companies will find reliable partner on this side.
All this make me believe that my optimism and the joint efforts of our two embassies, in Warsaw and in Sanaa, will not be futile.
Q: What is your last comment on Polish-Yemeni relations?
A: There is a natural and vivid interest on both sides to enhance these relations in all fields, based on a long lasting tradition of friendship, mutual respect and trust. I am confident that such assets won’t be wasted. After all our governments and our people do share similar values and are ready to use the existing potential.
It is the role of an embassy though to inspire and create proper climate for this to happen. That is precisely what we are doing here.
But let us not forget that it is someone else to implement it. Therefore I would like to express my profound gratitude to all those Yemeni citizens who do see their personal chance as well as immediate and more distant benefits to their own country resulting from closer Polish-Yemeni relations. For these are the true ambassadors of bilateral friendship and mutually profitable cooperation. Let us see more of them, let them be more active and let’s give them more support. These are words of encouragement, but also of a straight forward commitment – we shall give you all due support.