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Ambassador: Closure of Polish programme is deeply unfortunate

Poland's ambassador to Denmark writes in an open letter to Rector Ralf Hemmingsen that it is with deep regret that she learns that the University of Copenhagen intends to close both its bachelor's and master's degrees in Polish.

Dear Ralf Hemmingsen, Rector of the University of Copenhagen

It is with deep regret that I learned that the University of Copenhagen intends to close both its bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Polish. My regret is all the greater since the University of Copenhagen is the only place in Denmark where you can do a university degree and get an academic title in Polish.

It is my belief that the Polish programme at the University of Copenhagen has helped to bring our two neighboring countries closer together and to foster the understanding between individuals and communities which is so important for successful private, trade and labour relationships. The impressive number of companies working across our borders and our close cooperation in the European Union and NATO is dependent upon our mutual understanding, knowledge and respect.

It is therefore essential that young people in Denmark as well as in Poland have the opportunity to learn more about each other, in particular through the study of our respective languages, culture, history and society at university. They must play the role of bridge-builders and translators, not just linguistically but also culturally and sociologically.

Poland was in 2015 Denmark’s ninth largest trading partner with Danish exports worth DKK 18.4 billion.

Poland and Denmark have in recent years come closer together as neighbours. Let me mention that Poland in 2015 was Denmark’s ninth largest trading partner with Danish exports worth DKK 18.4 billion and trade continues to increase. Poland’s importance within the European Union is also increasing. Poland is not only the sixth largest country in terms of population, it is also the sixth largest economy and the sixth largest language. Both Danish publishers and investors, and European institutions point to the lack of qualified translators from Polish to Danish.

As Poland’s ambassador to Denmark, I see it as one of my most important tasks to help to make the Danish-Polish cooperation still stronger. I luckily see great potential in this. But for us to take the full advantage of our close geographical location and our already close relationship we need to have a thorough understanding of one another.

This understanding is at risk if we stop teaching young people our two languages and cultures at university level. This applies to Danish studies in Poland and Polish studies in Denmark. If we really want European co-operation to be successful, we need to understand each other. The language is often the key to success.

Yours sincerely

Henryka Mościcka-Dendys

Poland’s Ambassador to Denmark

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