Poles in Ukraine will be granted “special legal status” similarly to the one Ukrainians fleeing Russia’s war receive when entering Poland, according to a draft bill Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has promised he would submit to parliament.
Polish President Andrzej Duda visited Kyiv on Sunday (22 May), where he delivered a speech in the Ukrainian parliament. The same day, the Ukrainian UNIAN agency reported that his Ukrainian counterpart promised to give Poles a special status resembling what Ukrainians now enjoy in Poland.
“We have to look into the Polish law about the people temporarily displaced to Ukraine that, in fact makes Ukrainian citizens equal to the Polish citizens, except for the voting right. On the president’s initiative, a similar bill (concerning the Polish citizens) will now be adopted in Ukraine,” said Zelenskyy’s press secretary Sergey Nikiforov, as reported by the Polish PAP agency after UNIAN.
However, while, Nikiforov said it was still too early to discuss the details of the draft currently being worked on by the foreign ministry, Zelenskyy said the legislative procedure would be launched “as soon as possible,” reported Hromadske news service, quoting Olha Sovhyrya, MP from the president’s Servant of the People party (SN).
During the joint conference with Duda, Zelenskyy confirmed his plans to submit the draft to parliament, suggesting that the special status Ukraine would grant Poles would be an expression of gratitude to the Polish nation.
Appreciating “the respect and support that we receive from the Polish people and the Polish government,” Zelenskyy said that under the new law, Poles on Ukrainian territory would be granted “the same rights that Ukrainians received in Poland.”
Since 24 February, around 3.53 million Ukrainian refugees have crossed the Polish border, tweeted the border guard. In March, the Polish embassy in Kyiv roughly estimated the number of Poles living in Ukraine at “several hundred, probably nearly a thousand.”