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The Giedroyc era ended in foreign policy

Published on March 8, 2011 by: in: Society

The Giedroyc – Mieroszewski duo began creating the concept of the Eastern policy of Poland about 60 years ago.  It was not even that much about creating it, but about adjusting and updating the federal policy of Pilsudski, which was based on strong belief that Poland regains an independency and becomes the subject of international policy.  The concept was developed in the “Kultura” (Polish émigré literary-political journal published in Paris) and based on theses such as:

  • Recognition of the national subjectivity, and when the opportunity occurs – subjectivity recognition of nations in Central-Eastern Europe
  • Acceptance of the object above the Yalta boundary line
  • Reconciliation with these nations and making them involved in the geopolitical circle of the Western world.
  • Reconciliation with Russia, based on its withdrawal from the imperial doctrine in relation to our part of Europe and the internal adjustment to the standards of Western civilization

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They called this concept: Ukraine Lithuania Belarus – ULB and this name is still in use nowadays.

When they were preparing those theses, it sounded fantastic and unbelievable. Both in London, where they were against cutting off the Eastern territories of Poland, and in Warsaw, where nations of Eastern Europe were at most nations of Soviet Union and assumption that Soviets could not exist any longer aroused a disdainful laugh, the Eastern concept of “Kultura” met objections as well as disrespect.

All of the critics of the concept were missing one sense, which was rarely available to politicians but in possession of Mieroszewski and Giedroyc – it was understanding of the geopolitical process, the proportion of the time and history.

Pilsudski’s doctrine

Jozef Pilsudski, the creator of country of Poland, had the ability of making the synthesis and understanding the historical processes. He formulated the federalist project, taking into account the facts he was dealing with:

  • Russian imperialism, which did not consider loosing a large parts of territories
  • Lithuanian and Ukrainian nationalism
  • Strong and serious, despite of the defeat – Germany
  • Practical inability to create the ethnic boundaries on the former territories of Republic of Poland.

Only something with higher potential than raising Poland could effectively and for the longer period of time resist Russia. In many writings, Pilsudski was giving to understand that the poor condition of Russia is temporary and after the civil war the danger will come back.

The vision of Pilsudski was not fantastic. On one hand, it was based on the tradition of Republic of Poland, which was the union of Poland and Lithuania and the vision of Poland, Lithuania, Belarus and Ukraine federation. On the other hand, there were other unions created at that time, such as Czech and Slovak and Yugoslav. However, over the time it cleared up that it was not a good idea (mainly because of the domination of the strongest nations and braking the rules of equality within the unions). Back then it was the only solution to avoid creating small countries in favour of medium size countries, in accordance with Wilson doctrine.

Pilsudski’s aim was to establish the union of countries called `Intermarum` (it was not powerful from its definition, however could become so), which was supposed to frighten away a potential enemy and would have to be treated seriously in foreign politics. Pilsudski accurately diagnosed that it is easy to find the allies in  case of Germany, but in case of Russia there are no allies at all.

`Intermarum` was a broken dream of polish diplomacy between the wars, because of the inconsistency of Polish–Soviet peace treaty and then because of the lack of partners to make that idea happen – Lithuania  yearning for a fight for Vilnius, Estonia and Latvia keeping faith in the League of Nations. Only Poland was looking for agreement, sometimes in a very clumsy way, especially after the death of the leader.

Life after the Yalta

The doctrine of ULB rejected the Yalta order- the divisions of political and military blocks, which Giedroyc and Mieroszewski admitted are temporary and insignificant. They assumed rightly that to make stable union between the countries,  a deeper bond is needed instead of relations based on weapons. They did not ask for the war of nations, they assumed the internal decomposition of the Soviet block at the first sings of weakness in Russia. They thought that the war of nations is danger – this is why the boundaries assigned by Yalta system were accepted.

The concept of ULB was against the policy of governments in Warsaw and the one in London. What is more, it was against the feelings of preponderant part of Polish society. For Polish people, those in the country, as well as for those who emigrated, it was hard to forget about the rights of “Zabuzanie”(polish people who came from territories on the east from the river Bug), who, in nearly 24 millions society (according to register from 1946), comprised between 12-15% of citizens.  In Poland, because of the ideological issues, formal landsman shafts could not exist. Despite an effort of authorities of PRL (People’s Republic of Poland), who tried to cumulate the group of repatriates at the recovered territories, they all remained living all over the place, keeping in touch, carrying with themselves the knowledge of NKVD (The  People’s Comissariat for Internal Affairs) transportations, camps, expropriation and crime in Wolyn. The times of Stalinism in Poland turned the experience of Kresowiacy (first group of Polish people who felt the effects of the system of common welfare and happiness) into the nationwide experience.

It would be fascinating to consider how the concept of ULB made its way into Polish’s people awareness, and after regaining sovereignty in 1989, became a declared attitude of Polish Eastern policy. For the purpose of this text we can confirm that it happened. Year 1989 was neither a year of borders revision trail, revindication nor armaments in our part of Europe. I am sure that the ULB, as a concept of policy towards nations of the First Polish Republic, saved us from Yugoslavian option.  Thanks to Giedroyc and Mieroszewski the dynamics of 1989/90 events found us with an idea of creating the fundaments of our presence and position in Europe.

Eastern policy of the Third Republic of Poland

The Third Republic of Poland was a country arguing about everything, except for foreign policy. Regardless of the parties they belonged to, each government was keeping a few the same priorities – empowerment of Poland’s independence by joining EU and NATO, supporting the emancipation of Eastern European nations by facilitating the access into Western circle of economic, political and military relations.

The foreign policy was about accepting an unconditional sovereignty of Eastern European countries, when they were coming to existence – Ukraine, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia and Belarus. The treaty of cooperation was signed very quickly with those countries, and next governments were taking care of good relations with them, sometimes at the cost of the Polish minority interests.

That policy was valid until Polish foreign policy was taken over by Radoslaw Sikorski.  Without any declaration and formal announcements, the goals of Polish foreign policy become redefined in practice.

Return of Piast dynasty in Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Last two years of Polish foreign policy was defined with leaving the ULB doctrine in favor of concept of so-called Piast policy.

The antinomy of Piast and Jagiellonian concept (ULB resulted from it) generally is about defining active, external factors influencing position of Poland. Piast concept assumed strong integration with Western Europe and subordination of Eastern policy to their interest.  Realization of this kind of option faces today a few important obstacles:

There is Russia in the East, which has never dropped the concept of sphere of influence or so called ‘near abroad’ in its foreign policy.  Russia in terms of international dimensions is nothing less than Regan’s definition of “empire of evil”. Russia does not hesitate to use military force intervening in the neighborhood of the near abroad (see Georgia) or economic (see the Ukraine or Belarus). Russia, which is still very far from democracy, and by its autocracy, is much closer to the recently abandoned Soviet totalitarianism- with the control of media and the public and the center of power beyond the control of society. Such a system can result in endless internal war (as in Chechnya) and external (like Georgia), controlled by the special services and if needed by using armored divisions, the local satraps of independent countries, as in Central Asia and Moldova. There is not even a fundamental convergence of interests prevailing in the EU countries with the interests of the Polish Eastern policy. Baltic gas pipeline, France selling the military technologies – are the most flagrant and fresh examples. The gas pipeline can cause an energy crisis in the countries of Central and Eastern Europe without consequence from the other EU countries, which have protected their interests, the French Mistral and planes can be used to regulate ‘the near abroad’.

A discord in aims of the EU policy seems to be the most dangerous phenomenon. In a natural way Mediterranean countries will focus on projects in their area and hoisting the Maghreb into the orbit of EU. It is not about blocking these projects – but it provides a good opportunity to create similar ones in the East – and so-called Eastern Partnership is certainly not such a project.

Minister writes

Radoslaw Sikorski flushed by epoch-making success – a Putin’s visit at Westreplatte – made public, with some delay in relation to acts, in the newspaper “Gazeta Wyborcza” (history lesson- 1st of September) retreat from the concept of ULB, which our minister describes as jagiellonian and imperial.

The Jagiellonian concept differs from Piast concept in perception of Russia and its role in Eastern Europe. In this concept there is solid desire to stronger or weaker but always allowing for accumulation potentials, trade nations ‘INTERMARUM’- accumulation, which cause that from the weak group of organisms from ‘the near abroad’ crates a community, which should be taken into account.

When reading the text of minister Sikorski, I got an impression that either Poland or the rest of the globe has changed their geographical position, instead of Russia we have USA, with whom we are NATO partners, and in Kaliningrad instead of 400 thousands of good soldiers we have got marines on supplies, on which Polish entrepreneurs get rich.

The article of Radoslaw Sikorski indirectly explains why we left Ukrainians on their own, after the “orange revolution”. In many discussions I hear that Ukrainians themselves chose Yanukovych and Russia – but what choice we gave them? There is an argument about internal dispute regarding the political instability of Ukraine – maybe it is worth reminding the Piasts,that the Treaty of Association between Poland and the EU was signed in December 1991 – at the time of the biggest political instability in Poland, when Olszewski government was being created we received a signal from the EU – there is a space for you in our family, we are waiting for you. Ukraine did not get such a signal and it is a huge sin of Polish foreign policy- a sin,which came out from rejecting the ULB concept, but also from weakness of the Polish voice in Europe. We did not give any choice to Ukraine.

Where Piasts are going to take us?

I do not want to overly demonize the role of Russia, but I am convinced that the main interest of Poland is to become less reliant on capricious meanders of foreign policy of our great neighbor. Unfortunately the EU itself cannot guarantee such an independence. An opportunity created by our successive ministers of foreign affairs – from Skubiszewski to Fotyga – was to introduce the concept of the ULB or at least introduce the major elements to the Eastern policy of the EU. They did so in different ways and with different effects, but they all carried out the concept assuming that Poland will not become a border country of stabilizing zone created by the European and Transatlantic structures. Currently moving away from the Giedroyc and Mieroszewski’s concept creates the recognition of Russian domination over the countries in the East from Poland – in exchange for … just for what?

Since September last year I have been frantically looking for benefits of resigning from supporting the young nations in Eastern Europe. I know why the Treaty of Riga was signed and what Pilsudski apologized for to Ukrainians in Szczypiorno. What achieved Tusk and Sikorski by giving, without the fight, our Eastern friend to Russia? I can not see any benefit, as so far we only received a warm word from Putin on the 1st of September 2009 and very good behaviour of Russians after the Smolensk tragedy. In regards to realizing the vital interests of Poland – I do not find any benefits, full dependence on Russia and Intermarum return to us, in terms of economy and politics. I feel that by moving away from the concept of ULB, and by criticizing it as being imperial, Minister called the vital interest of Poland as being imperial, guaranteeing our independence, stability and development.  Mister Minister – it is a mistake.

I am not going event to mention something extremely important in Giedroyc’s way of thinking – the obligation to people over who we  have dominated for centuries, not even mentioning category of honor, promise or betrayal – I only write about Polish vital interests, which together with the ULB rejection were seriously affected.

I do not know what lies at the roots of rejection and abandonment of the existing Eastern policy. I can see it was a huge mistake, which will probably not influence the near future, the one calculated in the popularity polls of politicians or parties, but will be reflected very negatively in the near future  measured historically. Unless we turn away from this ‘Piast” road.

Translation: 

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About Marcin Celinski

Enterpreneur, manager. He was the first leader of the Liberal Forum.

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