Union of Russia, Belarus and … Poland? Warsaw could be a Trojan horse for Europe


January 17, 2018 – FRN – 

RIA – translated by Inessa Sinchougova 

It is considered that Warsaw does not want to be the eternal periphery of the EU or a “second-class Europe”. Polish politicians intend to teach European bureaucrats of European and Christian values themselves, and perhaps make their country a new center of power. But then Poland will have to make friends with a neighbour – Russia. 

The head of the European Council, Donald Tusk, said that Poland, having recently lost sufficient funding, could withdraw from the EU. According to him, if Warsaw’s monetary obligations to the EU increase, “the Polish government will decide that it’s time to ask citizens if they want to see their country in the EU at all.”

Tusk also noted that the leadership of the European Union has no illusions about the intentions of Warsaw. “In Brussels, they seriously hope that Poland will remain in the European Union,” the head of the European Council stated. 

The quarrel between Brussels and Warsaw arose because of the Polish judicial reform. The European Commission (EC) considered that the new laws violate the principles of the rule of law and allows the executive to control the courts.

In the end, the EC launched a procedure that could theoretically deprive Poland of the right to vote in the EU Council. The faithful ally of Warsaw, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban promised that Budapest would veto it if necessary. 

Poland and Hungary also agree on the issue of migrants. Both Warsaw and Budapest, contrary to the requirements of Brussels and the EU giants – Germany and France, refuse to resettle refugees from the Middle East and Africa. 

Brussels is similarly irritated that the Polish ruling party “Right and Justice” directly appeals to nationalism. In general, Poland seems to oppose the central power structures of the European Union more and more.

In some ways, the situation is similar to the 1980s, when the Polish state was in another bloc – the eastern one. 

In the 1970s, the Soviet Union had to increase the amount of financial and material assistance to the “fraternal” Polish People’s Republic. The anti-communist sentiment in society was strong, and the ruling Polish United Workers’ Party  responded by raising the standard of living of the working people. The leadership of the USSR went into additional expenses in order to maintain stability in the country.

But in the 1980s, the era of the opposition movement, the ruling party tactically retreated under the demands of the protesters. In 1989, the Solidarity party came to power; a clause on the leading role of the Communist Party was withdrawn from the constitution. In 1990, the leader of Solidarity, Lech Walesa, was elected President. During the years of intense struggle with the communist regime, he cooperated with state security services. But the scandal ended in nothing – the Poles are proud of Walesa no less than the Polish pope.

Soon the Warsaw Pact Organization and the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance – the “Soviet NATO and the EU” – ceased to exist. What contributed to the collapse of the Eastern bloc – is a question for historians, but it is obvious that Poland was then at the forefront of the “saboteurs”.

In the same way, Warsaw now opposes Brussels. However, it is unlikely that the disagreements between Poland and the European bureaucrats can shake the foundations of the EU.

“The giants of the European Union – France and Germany – will be able to agree on the creation of a unitary Europe; it is important who will enter the nucleus of this union, and who will remain on the periphery.” In the current situation, Poland will not simply be released from the union. 

“Warsaw is the largest recipient of financial assistance from the EU, and after 2020 it should start paying out for the money, so Brussels will not let Poland off. ” – said director of international projects of National Strategy Institute Yuri Solozobov. 

And yet: why, after moving from one camp to another, Warsaw maintains its opposition traditions? 

“The mentality of the Polish elite is extremely historical, and it has an attitude of relying on force, seeking it within the country,” explains Solozobov.

In addition, the expert points out: in the historical memory of the Polish elites, it remains that their country was an empire, ruled by many peoples. Therefore, Warsaw feels entitled to demand a special attitude and strives to speak on equal terms with any supranational union.

Politician and political analyst, Sergei Stankevich, who has lived in Poland for several years, also deduces modern Polish political practice from history.

“In the Commonwealth, the deputies of the Seimas had the principle of liberum veto, a free veto, which could stop the discussion of any deputy.” This is preserved in the national character – that Poland has the right to veto. 

It is obvious that the complete Euroskepticism of the Polish politicians is so far only the desire to present additional arguments in bargaining. Nevertheless, it is understandable: Warsaw claims to be the new center of power in Europe. And for this it is necessary to be not in the periphery of arbitrarily powerful economies, giants of the EU, but to realize one’s own ambitions.

“The further absorption of the eastern border of the European Union has been postponed for a long time – it needs to still process the Balkans. European politicians are increasingly declaring that Ukraine will not be admitted to the EU in the next 25-30 years, so Poland will try to use this historical time to actively work with the lost Ukraine, an emptying Lithuania and post-Lukashenko Belorussia. This will not be a banal political expansion – rather an attempt to create a comfortable business environment for cooperation, beneficial to the development of Poland, “- believes Solozobov.

“For Warsaw, there is a question of which direction to go, as it is simply a buffer space between Moscow, Beijing and Brussels, meaning stagnation. The creation of the Poland-Belarus-Russia bloc as a confederation within the next 10-15 years can become an alternative,” he said.

Due to the rather harsh rhetoric of Warsaw towards Russia and Belarus, now such a prospect seems unrealistic. But, according to Solozobov, sooner or later, a pragmatic approach will eventuate. 

“The countries of present-day Eastern Europe had well-established infrastructure ties with Russia, yes, many industrial ties have disintegrated, but by the example of the Customs Union we see that the chains of cooperation and trade are quickly recovering at a new level.”

The future is the rapprochement of the economic structures of the EU and the EEA, for the re-creation of transit routes between supergiants – Europe and China,” the expert believes.

However, judging by the latest news (Poland to dismiss staff  from the Foreign Ministry who studied in Moscow’s Government Institute for International Relations), it will take many more years to establish these pragmatic relations.

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