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Stronger and braver

Published on April 13, 2012 by: in: Politics

Polish foreign policy has finally become unexciting to an average spectator! For a while politicians graciously let go of demagogic wars, to which Polish diplomacy had fallen victim in the last couple of years. They have transferred their interest to other fields of politics – those on which they can currently gain more. Presumably this situation will not last forever but let us enjoy the moment. For the time being, Polish diplomacy is predictable, calm and drawn away from political games. It is hardly surprising then that the debate about the state of Polish foreign policy was astonishingly civilised (I leave out those few incidents on the left side of the chamber that weren’t substantive). The attention paid to Polish diplomacy by the public opinion and the media, or rather the lack of it, is inversely proportional to the things Radosław Sikorski has announced from the podium. His speech was at times very interesting and daring.

photo: Krzysztof Dobrzański

photo: Krzysztof Dobrzański

It seems that realism eventually starts to visibly dominate over prometheism in Polish foreign policy. This fact is supported by a few points that haven’t been voiced straightforwardly. Principally civil servants from Szucha Avenue (where headquarters of the Ministry are located) stop to cling covetously to the slogan about the strategic partnership, which links Poland to the United States. For good couple of years the public opinion has been beguiled with it to prove the effectiveness of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Polish diplomacy finally got to understand two most important things. First, the USA loses its interest in Europe and doesn’t mean to die for it. You cannot bestow the European safety on Americans and you need to focus on building a coalition within the EU. Second, Poland cannot unconditionally engage itself in American projects. According to the Minister’s speech, Poland will take part only in those undertakings, in which its prestige won’t suffer as it happened in the case of Iraq. In this speech one could also find a few allusions at Americans, disguised in round sentences and courtesies, for which Polish politicians wouldn’t have opted not that long ago.

The approach to cooperation within the European Union appears to be the next argument that confirms a more sober look at the world of international politics. One may grasp from the speech that Poland shall not remain passive when the interest of the community will crash against national antagonisms. The Minister has announced employing resolutions of the Treaty of Lisbon and establishing a coalition of countries with similar pursuits and political aims to carry out the key undertakings, for instance in the field of defence. It is hard to predict how effective the actions of Polish diplomacy shall be in such situation, yet the fact that this announcement has appeared in the Minister’s speech demonstrates a more aware and firm attitude towards the most important players in the EU. Especially crucial relations with Germany are supposed to help to consolidate this position of Poland in the community. Initially I was surprised that at last Berlin was so unequivocally defined as our closest partner, but the longer I analysed the speech the less astonished I was. Stressing the importance of relations with Germany is directed not at Berlin but at other European partners as it substantiates our international position.

It seems from Sikorski’s speech that Poland does not intend to build its prestige on the backs of its stronger partners and that it departs from the pernicious search of “strategic partnerships”. Still, the choice of greater self-reliance was not made by Poland independently and was dictated by the international situation – the reorientation of American politics to the Pacific and the focus of European partners on solving the eurozone’s problems. This is the only right choice. Finally the diplomacy has accepted the fact that Poland shall never be a superpower and at last it seeks new alternatives within the EU.

The title refers to the last sentence from the speech of the Minister of Foreign Affairs of March 29th 2012.

Translation: Alicja Bratkowska

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About Malgorzata Jastrzebska

Student of International Relations at the University of Warsaw, member of Centre of Young Diplomats. She cooperates with a portal psz.pl writing about Polish foreign policy.

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Fredrich Naumann Foundation For The Freedom
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