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Sep 05

Komorowski and Polish foreign policy

Welcome to the new site.  I wrote a piece for the Polish tabloid Fakt last week about President Komorowski’s trip round Europe.  The Polish version is here (well translated btw–thanks to whomever did it).  The English version reads as follows:

Even his friends do not claim that President Bronisław Komorowski is sparkling company. He speaks no foreign languages and has never lived abroad. He has no expertise in world affairs, no close friendships with foreign leaders. He is not Donald Tusk or Radek Sikorski. But he is a sensible man representing a country that matters. He will find no difficulty in gaining meetings and audiences.

Not that the competition is very strong. Most presidents from “new Europe” are lightweights, cranks or political meddlers: Václav Klaus of the Czech Republic is a notorious example. Foreign leaders are tired of his bizarre theories about the menace of the EU superstate, or the green conspiracy behind global warming. They shudder when Romania’s rumbustious Traian Băsescu wants to visit. They find Lithuania’s Dalia Grybauskaitė insufferably self-important.

They thought Lech Kaczyński was tiresome too: his tussles with the Polish government about the minutiae of foreign policy, such as appointments, places at meetings and so on, and his overpowering sense of historical grievance stoked old stereotypes of Polish amateurishness, complexes and unpredictability.

Mr Komorowski heralds a different era: a sensible man working with his government colleagues rather than against them. Poland’s strong economy and stable politics, along with the upcoming EU presidency next year, mean that Polish ideas are taken seriously as never before. Mr Komorowski’s personal biography may be quite similar to his predecessor’s. But what he represents is a quite different country and mindset, conditioned not by the troubles of the past but the opportunities of the present.

The big question is what happens next, after the sighs of relief and the polite welcomes are over. What about the ideas themselves? Mr Komorowski shows every sign of sticking loyally to the script written by Mr Tusk and Mr Sikorski. He promotes EU integration and expansion, warns Brussels against neglecting “new Europe”, sharply distances Poland from the Kaczyński-era romantic attachments to Ukraine and Georgia, cautiously praises the apparent change of heart in Russia, and maintains a loyal but moderate Atlanticism.

That is fine as far as it goes. But it is vulnerable to events. What happens if Russia turns nasty again? The Polish government has bet heavily on the Kremlin’s sincerity in the year since Vladimir Putin’s half-apology at Sopot. Is there a “Plan B”? What happens if Barack Obama’s administration reciprocates the lukewarm and apathetic approach that Europe already displays towards America? Will Poland support more EU bailouts for the spendthrift countries of southern Europe? Poland’s foreign policy looks fine in good weather; it has yet to be tested by storms.

Another question is Mr Komorowski’s own role. Will he be content to be a general message-runner for the government, attending state funerals when Mr Tusk is too busy? To be a really effective foreign-policy figure he will need to learn English, at least for use in private meetings. I suspect not. Being decent and boring has worked well for him so far. His current crop of headlines may be the first and best.

6 comments

  1. Hanna

    “But he is a sensible man (…)” Komorowski maliciously libelled Szeremietiew (his ex-deputy at the Ministry of Defence at AWS government) accusing him of being fraud and corrupt. The purpose of this libel was to fire Szeremietiew from his position as he was responsible for procurement so Komorowski’s people (WSI) can have “a bit of action” in the deals. Komorowski promised at the time that if Szeremietiew were exonerated from accusations, Komorowski himself would leave the politics. (“Jeśli pan Szeremietiew zostanie uniewinniony, to ja odejdę z polityki” – Bronisław Komorowski 2005r.) Komorowski neither left the politics nor did he apologise to Szeremietiew for peddling malicious falsehood and libel.

    This is Komorowski in a nutshell. … but maybe we have different standards of being “a sensible man”. … third world (or a “wild country” as Drzewiecki put) standard so to speak…

  2. Patrick Dole

    I agree! Well done. Time to read your book ;-)

  3. Alexander Liubchuk

    One who does not remember sad lessons and bitter mistakes of the past will repeat them compulsorily in future. This is the truth which mustn’t be proved. Mr. Komarowski, judging by his flirts with Russia, tries his best to forget this historically proven axiom. I do not mean at all self-isolation and disgust to former oppressors (not only Russia, by the way, but Germany, too), but weighted and reasonable attitude and cooperation… But one has to keep in mind constantly that forgetful persons (and, consequently, whole countries) have got miserable perspectives. We, Belarusians, by our current sorrowful and tragic experience, unfortunately, confirm completely this truth. We did not want to see emperial Russia’s threat at the beginning of 1990′s when we had gained so long-awaited freedom. Wise men such as Mr. Zianon Pazniak forewarned at the time about oncoming Russia’s endevours to revenge these democratical changes in young independent Belarus by hidden, internal occupation through insallation of a renegade in state power of Belarus, but, regretfully, such appeals had not been heard by majority of Belarusians. The result is horrible and apalling: Belarus is the only one remaining dictatorship in Europe wth numerous unprecedented abusements of human rights and persistent elemination of Belarusian culture, language, economy and, as a result, Belarusian independence. We have to struggle severly now to overthrow this nasty pro-moscow regime.
    So, Mr. Lucas, Mr. Kachinsky’s and Mr. Klaus’ preoccupations are not so groundless at all.
    Alexander Liubchuk,
    Brest city, Republic of Belarus.

  4. Alexander Liubchuk

    One who does not remember sad lessons and bitter mistakes of the past will repeat them compulsorily in future. This is the truth which mustn’t be proved. Mr. Komarowski, judging by his flirts with Russia, tries his best to forget this historically proven axiom. I do not mean at all self-isolation and disgust to former oppressors (not only Russia, by the way, but Germany, too), but weighted and reasonable attitude and cooperation… But one has to keep in mind constantly that forgetful persons (and, consequently, whole countries) have got miserable perspectives. We, Belarusians, by our current sorrowful and tragic experience, unfortunately, confirm completely this truth. We did not want to see emperial Russia’s threat at the beginning of 1990′s when we had gained so long-awaited freedom. Wise men such as Mr. Zianon Pazniak forewarned at the time about oncoming Russia’s endevours to revenge these democratical changes in young independent Belarus by hidden, internal occupation through insallation of a renegade in state power of Belarus, but, regretfully, such appeals had not been heard by majority of Belarusians. The result is horrible and apalling: Belarus is the only one remaining dictatorship in Europe wth numerous unprecedented abusements of human rights and persistent elemination of Belarusian culture, language, economy and, as a result, Belarusian independence. We have to struggle severly now to overthrow this nasty pro-moscow regime.
    So, Mr. Lucas, Mr. Jaroslaw Kachinsky’s and his murdered brother – Lech’s (namely murdered, but not tragically perished) as well as Mr. Václav Klaus’ preoccupations are not so groundless at all.
    Alexander Liubchuk,
    Brest city, Republic of Belarus.

  5. Kaz Pacyno

    With all due respect, Sir, Mr.Komorowski is anything but decent. Unless You mean decency to his powerfull wire-pullers as closely as possible tied to Russia.

  6. Chris

    Komorowski was the only member of ruling party who voted against liquidation of WSI (old military secret service – most of it’s members were educated in Moscow – in fact WSI was Polish arm of GRU (russian military secret service)). His and ruling party’s attitude after 10/04/2010 (date of so called accident of plane with then Polish president and 95 other people (all died – among them elite of Polish polititians)) tells everything about their servility to Putin’s Russia. Research carefully that plane’s crash and you will know much more about what’s going on in Eastern Europe. You are journalist so do your job properly.

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