Poland plans to bar Ukrainians with “anti-Polish views”, its foreign minister said on Thursday, emphasising the nationalist credentials of his ruling party that often talks of the “historic wrongs” inflicted on Poles by their neighbours.
Witold Waszczykowski said the policy was a reaction to disrespect shown at a Polish cemetery in the western city of Lviv, which was part of Poland before World War Two.
The foreign ministry said lion sculptures at the cemetery’s entrances that hold shields inscribed with the Polish phrases “Always faithful” and “To you, Poland” had been covered up with boxes.
Waszczykowski said Ukrainians who express anti-Polish sentiments or make it difficult to maintain ageing Polish symbols in Ukraine would be refused visas. He did not say how the policy would be applied in practice.
Despite Poland’s support for an independent Ukraine that can stand up to Russia, tensions over the countries’ troubled shared history have risen since the Law and Justice (PiS) party came to power in Poland two years ago.
Poland last year passed a resolution that declared the World War Two-era killing of tens of thousands of Poles by units in the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA) “genocide”. Ukraine rejects that label, saying the killings were tragic and calling for reconciliation and forgiveness.
Waszczykowski said Poland’s sympathy for Ukraine’s struggles with Russia must not push “historical issues” into the background.