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Russia has become less influential

Published on April 2, 2012 by: in: Politics

Elections in Russia have not lead to any serious consequences. Instead of any  surprise, there is disappointment and a feeling that the political situation in the country is rather immutable. One should also consider future relations between Poland and Russia. They may never improve although the current Polish government has already ensured that the relations will develop.

According to professor Adam Rotfeld[1], the elections in Russia “proved that the autocracy is deep-rooted and every attempt to introduce reforms resembles the parody of democratic states”. Nowa Europa Wschodnia[2] also suggested that the elections caused no political change.

photo: Ozge Utan

photo: Ozge Utan

It is essential to consider whether the firm promise of reforms, which was made by the Russian government two years ago, has a sound basis or not. The current Polish government claimed that the policy pursued by its predecessors had been too rigid. Donald Tusk[3] made an attempt to adopt more flexible methods, but they have not produced any desired results yet. The relations between Poland and Russia did not change substantially. Having taken this into account, the supporters of the rigid policy might have been right that every attempt to develop the relations is vain or even doomed.

But I do not agree with them. It is true that the relations between Poland and Russia have not developed considerably. Nevertheless, the establishment of a few joint commissions will generate some modest profits which may be useful in the future. Moreover, no one will ever suspect that the Polish suffer from Russophobia. The abovementioned attempt will also help others to realize how hard it is to develop good relations with the Russian government.

To be honest, it does not matter whether Polish policy is rigid or flexible. Various attempts to change the relations between Poland and Russia have not been very genuine so far. What really counts is the electric power industry. If Poland increases energy security, Russia will not threaten us. One must also realize that Russia may use energy weapon regardless of the good relations.

Having considered this, we should not bother about the issue. I must emphasize, however, that it is always more profitable to keep up appearances of the good relations. That is why the attempt to develop them cannot be considered futile.

But another, more general conclusion may be drawn. Russia has become less influential. The geopolitical position of Poland allows us to be more patient. Those who worry about Russia too much must be dwelling on the past. We should take a more pragmatic approach to the relations between Poland and Russia. It would be a good solution to adopt optimum policies depending on the needs and the attitude of others.

The pragmatic approach requires to focus not only on general aspects. The Polish must concentrate on particular problems such as the relations with the Kaliningrad Oblast, sailing along the Vistula Bay[4] or the development of the harbor in Elbląg[5]. The Polish government has not paid attention to such details before because we all struggled to avoid threats from Russia. We do not have to worry about the issues nowadays.

The current attitude to Russia suggests that the relations with Eastern countries have become less important. It does not matter whether Polish policy towards Russia is successful or not. We should rather focus on cooperation with the countries of Central Europe and the potential of the Baltic Sea. It is obvious that the position in the EU also counts. One should not be surprised that the elections in Russia did not arise much interest (not only in Poland). They helped to realize that Russia cannot step into 21st century.

Translation: Aleksandra Kozłowska

[1] Polish scholar and former Minister of Foreign Affairs.

[2] Polish bimonthly magazine published in Wrocław.

[3] Current Polish Prime Minister.

[4] One of water lagoons on the Baltic Sea.

[5] A city in northern Poland.

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About Kazimierz Woycicki

Graduate of Philosophy faculty at the University of Lublin and of Political Science and History faculty in Germany as the Adenauer Foundation's scholar, PhD at the University of Wrocław. Between 1986 and 1987 journalist of BBC, between 1990 and 1993 editor-in-chief of Życie Warszawy, between 1996 and 1999 president of the Polish Institute in Dusseldorf and between 2000 and 2004 in Leipzig. Currently sernior fellow in the International Relations Centre in Warsaw and academic at the University of Warsaw.

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