December 22, 2012

Polish Foreign Policy Debacle


Polish Foreign Policy Debacle(photo warsaw beeper)
It has been more than five years since Poland’s Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski took the office and significantly redirected the vectors of foreign policy. We can now estimate, after all these years, that it was a debacle from all points of view.

Sikorski became Poland’s Foreign Minister in 2007, when the Civic Platform took the power and Tusk created his first government. Before that date all main political parties shared more or less the same opinion on Polish foreign affairs and led similar policy which consisted of: building security system in alliance with Western powers, European integration, cooperation in Central Eastern Europe, especially with the countries of Visegrad Group and active policy towards Eastern neighbours, i.e. Lithuania, Belarus and Ukraine. All the political powers - post-communists, centrists, rightists, and leftists - agreed more or less with all those vectors and acted according to them. That is why Poland joined NATO and EU, took part in operations in Afghanistan and Iraq and played a role in the Orange Revolution in Ukraine.

Radoslaw Sikorski as foreign minister redirected slowly the vectors. In 2009 he published famous article in Gazeta Wyborcza(which is a pro-Tusk newspaper). He criticized the policy led by former governments and claimed that we should revive the political concept of the historical Piast dynasty, which means nowadays that we should stick to Germany and forget about any independent ideas. It was very clearly stated. One thing to add, and he did not mention it in this article, is that the Piast dynasty was not a successful one. Except for the first and last kings of this dynasty, all were weak and, generally speaking, Poland was a very weak and unimportant country during those times. The best king of Piast dynasty was Casimir the Great, who was also the last one – but he was the one who redirected the foreign policy and incorporated Eastern territories.

The main directions for Sikorski are Berlin and Moscow. We should be an important partner for Germany, seek their help, and simultaneously improve our relations with Russia at any price. NATO, United States and other EU countries are almost invisible from this point of view. Countries of Central Eastern Europe – completely non-existent. This policy was not only done consequently, but was also published loudly, so citizens of Poland were conscious of it and supported it along with others ideas of the Tusk government.

The results could be described as a debacle on all fronts:

-          For the US, Poland does not exist. Despite the fact that Polish soldiers still participate in missions in Asia, it is impossible for the Tusk government even to make the US ease visa requirements for Polish citizens. The mutual trade exchange is low.

-          In the EU, Poland is not an important player. Poland is seen as a country which will always support Germany – despite some purely decorative things, like the EP Presidency for Jerzy Buzek.

-          The best example of relations with Russia is of course Smolensk – the catastrophe itself and what happened afterwards.

-          The Lukashenko regime in Belarus is stronger than before, also because of Poland’s support (like the publication of names of Belorussian opposition leaders who received money from Poland’s Foreign Ministry)

-          The Yanukovych regime in Ukraine is growing stronger with significant Poland’s help. We observe significant decrease of democracy in Ukraine and Poland actively supports this change, including by helping Yanukovych to get out of international isolation.

-          Anti-Polish sentiment in Lithuania is growing stronger

-          Relations with strong EU countries like France, UK, Italy, Spain are almost non-existent

-          Relations with Central Eastern European countries are non-existent (except – from time to time – with Hungary, which is the only positive thing, but it is rather the deed of PM Tusk than FM Sikorski)

Debacle on all fronts. Change, please!