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DR meets Europeans: At EU's outermost border, there is one elected representative who truly makes a difference.

DR-Politics in Politics

Thursday, May 30, 2024 • 7:50 AM UTC - in Politics

Janusz Kawalec, a taxi driver in the Polish city of Przemysl, has been busy these last two years. Among his passengers are countless Ukrainians.


Morning on 4'eren conquers Europe


Knud Lind is traveling around Europe before the EU election to better get to know our European family before we all vote for candidates into the European Parliament. His journey takes him through Germany, Belgium, Luxembourg, France, Switzerland, Italy, Slovenia, Austria, Hungary, Poland, and the Czech Republic.

Knud Lind sends each day "Morning on 4'eren" () on P4. He has worked as a journalist for 20 years, was once a butcher, and was once the lead singer in the heavy metal band Barcode. He is 54 years old, married, and father to two grown children.

This city has always been built on business with neighbors from Ukraine. Even 20 years ago, 98% of our business was with them, the P4 host Knud Lind explains as he meets a Polish man outside Przemysl Railway Station.

Knud Lind has recently traveled thinly through Europe. He is now in Poland.

However, since the war in Ukraine began, there have been even more Ukrainians on the streets and squares of this Polish city, which is about five kilometers from the border.

Janusz Kawalec does not wish for the war, nor does he, but he does not doubt that it has been good for local business owners:

- All the restaurants and hotels can be happy. Everything was destroyed during the coronavirus crisis, but business is booming again. Sadly, it is the war that has brought so many people here, he says.


A crucial junction


On his European tour, "Morning on 4'eren" () has reached Poland.

Here, Knud Lind visits Przemysl, which in the weeks following Russia's invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 was a crucial junction for the many Ukrainians who fled westward.

DR's Russia and Ukraine correspondent, Matilde Kimer, recalls that the city was a vital place at the time:

- It was here that thousands, perhaps millions of Ukrainians escaped, but it was also the place where significant military support from the West arrived.

- I can remember in the first months of the war standing in line at the border crossing with long lines of trucks loaded with ammunition, she says.

She recalls that Poland has been a loyal supporter of Ukraine throughout the war and a leading force in Western support.


Where is solidarity in the EU?


When Knud Lind meets taxi driver Janusz Kawalec outside Przemysl Railway Station, the conversation also turns to how it is to live right next to Ukraine today.


Facts about Poland


* Approximately 37 million people live in Poland.

* Poland has been a member of the EU since 2004.

* Poles go to EU elections on June 9, 2023.

* Poland has 52 seats in the European Parliament.

- I'm a little worried. I think it's just a matter of time before we can hold off the pressure from Russia. The next one might be war in Central Europe and Poland, says Janusz Kawalec.

He feels that Poland has a responsibility to help Ukraine. They are our neighbors, and we have a history with them, he says.

But he wonders if the rest of Europe feels the same:

- Solidarity in Europe is not exactly in good shape when it comes to the Ukrainian war. The whole of Europe should stand together and put more pressure on Russia.

- But on the other hand, Putin is not an easy person to negotiate with. He does what he wants, according to Janusz Kawalec, before he drives away.

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