“The Council of Ministers have decided to call off the Polish Year in Russia and the Russian Year in Poland, planned for 2015,” government spokesperson Malgorzata Kidawa-Blonska announced, Wednesday night.
The decision was taken after Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 was allegedly shot down by pro-Russian rebels in eastern Ukraine towards the end of last week, killing all 298 on board.
“This is the decision of the government, but both the foreign and culture ministers – Radoslaw Sikorski and Malgorzata Omilanowska respectively – unequivocally came to the conclusion that in [this] situation, it is impossible to follow through […] with the organisation of the Polish Year in Russia,” Kidawa-Blonska said.
Russian Year in Poland also cancelled
According to Kidawa-Blonska, the Russian Year in Poland will also be cancelled as a result.
In reporting the decision, the Rzeczpospolita daily cites foreign minister Radoslaw Sikorski as saying “plans for the Polish Year in Russia and Russian Year in Poland will be postponed: for a long time.”
According to the government spokesperson, “culture should bring together spectators and artists, there should be a good atmosphere, it must build unity.”
“However, current events do not allow for this,” Kidawa-Blonska stated, underlining that many Polish artists had already called for the festivities to be suspended.
Former culture minister Bogdan Zdrojewski had earlier announced that some of the cultural events planned for next year would go ahead despite any formal decision to cancel the official festivities.
Kidawa-Blonska said that if some books have been published for the occasion, it will be hard to cancel those events, “but all the joint festivities which would have been attended by state authorities are now impossible to accomplish”.
The Polish Year in Russia and Russian Year in Poland is a joint initiative which was to allow Poles and Russians to exhibit their economic, scientific and cultural successes in each other’s countries.
The document was signed last December by Polish and Russian foreign ministers, Radoslaw Sikorski and Sergey Lavrov as part of a long-term programme of Polish-Russian relations. (jb)