Mateusz Piskorski: Poland and Russia Are Against Chauvinism: the Chance For Strategic Partnership?

The visit of Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin to Poland is the most significant event in the foreign policy of Poland in 2009. The Government of Donald Tusk has a serious task to normalize Polish-Russian relations, which has lately occurred to be almost frozen.

But the two Parties should definitely establish a dialogue. First of all our countries are united by neighborhood and the resulting economic and transport relations. The cooperation within these spheres should be the most intensive. Vladimir Putin visited Poland on the occasion of the anniversary of the beginning of the Second World War. This is an inappropriate moment for negotiations – meaning that mourning events and extending historic arguments around them can negatively affect the atmosphere of talks. Nevertheless, arguments are not that important within three issues that are the core of Polish-Russian relations.

Today Poland continues negotiations with “Gazprom” that should result in mutually beneficial decision, and particularly in conclusion of a long-term contract on gas supplies. Because it will be even more difficult to accomplish the earlier declared concept of energy carriers diversification.

That is why exactly “Gazprom” will remain a key supplier of the blue fuel to Poland for many years forth. In this context Warsaw can choose the way of energy strategic partnership with its eastern neighbor. This way anticipates the investment of Moscow funds into the terminal of condensed gas in Świnoujście under construction. It can be achieved in exchange of the consent of Poland to participate in the Nord Stream project. At the same time we should get back to the idea of construction of the second net of Yamal gas pipeline. As a result Poland will become the main transiting country for Russia raw materials, and benefit in economic and political spheres.

Thus, from the group of anti-Russian hawks we will come to pragmatic cooperation, strengthening the position of Poland in the European Union by being a kind of a developer of European policy towards Moscow. It’s a quite favorable time for the accomplishment of these plans, as many things point that the Bundestag elections in September will result in another success of Christian Democrats of Angela Merkel. German Chancellor and her Government have distanced from Russia. Therefore, it’inexcusable for Poland to wait the coming of another Gerhard Schröder who will build partner relations with the Kremlin behind our backs.

The second issue, that can be used to worm up the relations between Warsaw and Moscow, is based on interrelations of both states with our common neighbors and common problems with them. First of all, I mean not only Ukraine but also Lithuania. In these countries there is a sound tendency of growing chauvinistic nationalism, the ongoing process of rehabilitation of offenders and collaborationists of the Second World War. These events incite concern in Poland as well as in Russia. The establishment of national self-identification initiated by these young states is based on anti-Polonism and russophobia and this can lead to worsening these difficult relations with them.

In this context Poland should strive for the breakthrough in its eastern policy view. To refuse or at least to reduce the significance of Jagiellon idea (the concept of multinational and multiconfessional Empire-Federation, directed on East – to Lithuania, Belarus and Ukraine) that is still maintained within the pages of Paris “Kultura” (“Culture”). The basis for refusal of Jagiellon idea can be the determination of the spheres of influence: for example, Lithuania and West Ukraine are in the circle of Polish influence, the rest post-Soviet territory is under Russian influence. In this case Polish diplomacy will have to intensify its economic and cultural expansion of Polish organizations in these territories, but at the same time it should avoid unnecessary interventions and comments on the actions of Moscow within its territory of influence.

The third issue of mutual cooperation is a pretty complicated field of historic arguments. The Governments of both countries should soundly authorize the researchers to review historic matters. For this purpose they should open all archives and provide full access for the researchers from the both sides. The founding of Polish departments and institutions in Russia and Russian ones in Poland can vividly demonstrate that Poland and Russia act in cooperation. At the same time, the feelings of the two Parties should be respected. Russians must acknowledge what a great role the persons like Józef Piłsudski plays and will play in the modern history of Poland; Poles should try to understand that the myth on the Great Patriotic War will further be the ground of Russian nationalism.

Polish-Russian strategic partnership is a surrealistic notion today. Looking at the map of Europe, we should ask ourselves about our geopolitical goals and ambitions. They should include the radical promotion of Warsaw in the EU. And without partnership with Russia we most likely won’t gain it. Historically sentimental argumentation shouldn’t play a destructive role as it was before. Policy must consider emotions only as a backup tool, and not as a basis for the determination of prospects.
Mateusz Piskorski – Director of the European Center of Geopolotical Analysis (Poland)

Translated by Eurodialogue.org