National raison d’etat: Poland and its neighbours

National raison d’etat: Poland and its neighbours

Thursday, 11 February 2016 - 5:00pm to 7:00pm
Venue: 
Seminar Room, European Studies Centre, 70 Woodstock Road, Oxford OX2 6HR
Speaker(s): 
Jacek Stawiski (Analyst, foreign news at TVN)
Jan Zielonka (St. Antony's College)
Igor Janke (Political commentator)
Chair: 
Mikolaj Kunicki
Series: 
POMP Seminar Series

"Poland’s foreign policy is undergoing significant change. This change one can attribute to two factors: first, deep changes in Polish internal politics and second, dramatic shifts in European and global politics. Since November, a new government is in power in Poland, formed by the national conservative in the parliament. The government is changing Warsaw’s view on the European Union, joining the United Kingdom in the camp of the “anti-federalists” and “anti-euro” states. The governing  Right & Justice Party would like to influence European debate in such a way that a future EU, the one which will emerge after the migration and single-currency crisis, will be more of a loose community with significant powers returned from Brussels to national capitals. To achieve that, the new Polish ruling party needs realignment of Poland European alliances and that’s why Warsaw is putting much emphasis on the close links to London and to Central European states that share the view of the need to recharge the EU in the direction of the community of states. The new Polish government is counting much on the avoidance of Brexit and is willing to accommodate UK’s demands for more flexibility on the social spending for EU immigrants living in the British Isles, above all for around one million Polish citizens. London is a strategic partner for Warsaw. It seems as Poland’s has decided to loosen, not to abandon, a parallel strategic partnership with Germany. That partnership is seen by many in the Polish rightist camp as not partnership, but dominance. Poland and Germany are divided today by many issues: policy towards migrants, where Poland is unwilling to support permanent mechanism for the resettlement of refugees in Europe, then energy policy and the plans to locate more NATO troops and arms in Central Europe to counter the resurgent and aggressive Russia. Previous Polish governments have toned down differences with Berlin and toned up common interests to maintain strategic partnership between two countries. The government of Right & Justice is doing quite the opposite. Another pillar of Warsaw’s new world view is the importance of deepening the alliance with America and America’s presence in Central Europe to balance Russia and, that is also the reason, to counter the disintegrating EU. The central question facing the new government in Poland is whether the new alliances and the new realignment in Europe will lead to strengthening Poland’s position in Europe or whether it will lead to Poland’s isolation in the EU." (Jacek Stawiski)