Central European Time Zone UTC+01:00
Capital City Warsaw
Currency Polish złoty
National Day November 11
Arriving in London in August with his English philologist and theatre historian wife, Jolanta Rzegocka PhD, and their three daughters, Poland’s new Ambassador His Excellency Dr Arkady Rzegocki has been pleased to observe “the connectedness of Polish-British relations.” A keen traveller, the Ambassador is looking forward to exploring the English countryside and sampling the cycling opportunities on offer.
An academic at heart, Dr Rzegocki has spent much of his career focusing on Polish-British relations, first as an Associate Professor in the Department of History of Political and Legal Doctrines of the Faculty of Law and Administration (1996- 2010) at the esteemed and historic Jagiellonian University in Krakow (est. 1364). Since 2010, he has been a Professor at the Faculty of International and Political Studies there. His research has taken him to institutions all over the world, including Denver, Oxford, Florence and as a Visiting Scholar at Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge in 2014.
Dr Rzegocki is no stranger to London, as he has been actively promoting knowledge of Poland in the UK for many years. From 2011 to 2016 he was a Professor of the Polish University Abroad in London (PUNO), and was the initiator and first director of the Jagiellonian University Polish Research Centre in London that has been operating since 2011. Between 2011 to 2015 he led the postgraduate course, ‘Polish-British Strategic Partnership in the EU and NATO,’ a joint collaboration by PUNO and the Jagiellonian University. Dr Rzegocki is keen to highlight these experiences as integral in developing his interest in British politics, culminating in this appointment as his country’s Ambassador in the UK.
In his new role, the Ambassador will focus on developing the already flourishing political and economic relationship between Britain and Poland.
Dr Rzegocki says: “Britain is in our top three export destinations, and I am looking forward to more British business investment opportunities in Poland, and more Polish investors in the UK.” A role as Councillor for the City of Krakow and Head of Committee for Innovation (2014-16) lends him the necessary experience to forge these economic ties and to encourage innovation activity and enterprise. He states: “Britain is one of our most important partners on security, and in the political and economic fields. We also have important links in education, so my plans are to concentrate on these matters.”
With such extensive experience in Polish-UK matters, there seems to be no better figure to take care of the Polish diaspora in this country, one of the largest in the world. It is therefore also important to Dr Rzegocki that the Polish Embassy is able to foster “a deeper awareness and understanding within Britain of Poland’s contribution to British society, both historically and more recently.” In the 1940s, he explains, “many displaced Poles found a new home in Britain, and played an important role in creating a diverse and multicultural Britain. The Polish community has really appreciated the hospitality of British society for many decades. So that’s why I was surprised to hear of these challenges facing the Polish community, and the sad incidents of hate crimes that occurred after the referendum.” He continues: “But on the other hand, there has also been a lot of support from British society. We received many letters of support from people. Many others remember the trouble the Polish had during the Second World War and how the British helped the Poles to find freedom. That’s very important for us. I think we need to encourage people to learn more about our country and the similarities between Britain and Poland.”
Alongside these challenges, Dr Rzegocki would like to see Poland play a more important role in the EU and Europe. He says: “Poland is now the twentieth economy [in terms of size] in the world, and the role of Poland is growing, so I would like to give Poland a greater voice and share Polish experiences and perspectives on issues concerning Europe.” Keen to credit his team, Dr Rzegocki states: “One of the most important aspects of my life has been cooperating with so many amazing people that I have met, and overcoming challenges together. So I am looking forward to working with my team to achieve our goals.”