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Appeal to Improve the Courtesy of Poland's Border Guards - from a long-term friend of Poland

Open Letter to Polish and Ukrainian Diplomats

My name is Zoia Skoropadenko. I am a UNESCO recognised artist.

I was born in Ukraine, have traveled all around world and lived for the last 15 years (almost half of my life) in the Principality of Monaco.

The government of Monaco has granted me the status of a professional artist of Monaco. While being a long time resident of Principality of Monaco, I am still a proud Ukrainian citizen and passport holder.

As a Ukrainian passport holder I need visas to travel almost everywhere outside of Schengen zone. As for an artist the visa procedure is never easy. However as a Monaco resident I do not need a visa for the Schengen zone.

Last month I went to Ukraine to undergo medical surgery. My flight was from Paris to Lviv via Warsaw. At Warsaw airport traveling in from Paris on my way to Lviv, I was stopped at immigration control and held for more than 20 minutes without any explanation.

This was strange as the only question I was asked was "where is my American passport?" - which I of course have never had in my life.

Finally I was allowed reluctantly through the control as if I was a very suspicious individual indeed. Two weeks later, I was on my way back again via Warsaw. I had one hour transit between flights. Again I was stopped by the immigration officers this time for more than 30 minutes. I was given no explanation of why I was being held up and it looked as if I was going to miss my flight.

Again I was given the impression something was very wrong with me, no matter how much I explained. The immigration officers were so hostile it seemed likely I would be turned back to Lviv.  Clearly there is something wrong as far as Poland is concerned with a Ukrainian Artist living in Monaco.

Luckily as I was waiting I managed to telephone the Ukrainian Ambassador to the European Union in Strasbourg to help me out. By pure coincidence at the time His Excellency Mr. Tochitsky was at the meeting with his European colleagues and he passed the phone to his Polish colleague.

The Polish border guard was so hostile and rude to the Ambassador that he hung up the telephone, dismissing the call as a hoax and a joke!

Apparently another diplomat made a telephone call to a the officer's superiors and suddenly I got my papers. That was a happy ending for me, but it shouldn’t be like this.

 It seems that while Poland is supporting an enlightened future for Ukraine its vision has not been communicated to its border guards.

This bitter pill must touch many Ukrainian lips.

 I really would like with this letter to get the attention of all decision makers, diplomats, politicians to help not just artists but all those who come up against the barriers between these two fraternal states. To face west surely Ukraine must look ton a smiling Poland, not the scowling mask of a border guard filled with disdain.

Zoia Skoropadenko
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