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Thursday, September 29, 2005

Poland's Rightward Turn and the Significance for Europe

While New Zealand and Germany wait to find out who their governments will be due to the incredibly close nature of the results, Poland's decisive swing to the right last weekend means that commentators are already writing about the effect this could have on Europe and the relationship of Europe to the US.
Germany and Russia are, therefore, inevitably perceived as geopolitical rivals by Warsaw. Although post-1990 relations with the two states are at unprecedented good levels, Poland will carefully avoid weakening Anglo-American influence in favor of a Russo-German axis, or even in favor of any one of those powers increasing in strength. This fundamental interest prevails over Warsaw's traditional excellent relations with France since Paris often looks to be the political brain behind the attempt to build a more autonomous Europe, thus reducing Washington's influence in European affairs.

In addition, Poland is trying to regain its leading role in Central and Eastern Europe by shaping enhanced cooperation with the Baltic states, Ukraine and even Georgia. In 2004, Warsaw actively supported the pro-U.S., pro-Western "orange revolution" in Kiev, and it's rapidly emerging as a solid U.S. ally when it comes to stirring up a similar civic movement in pro-Russia Belarus.

Such orientations have clearly emerged in Poland's foreign policy during the social-democratic rule of the last few years, so the rightward turn is not a synonym of Warsaw's reorientation, but instead a strengthening of some already working trends.

In August 2005, Warsaw launched a new initiative with Kiev, Vilnius and Tbilisi, aimed at forging a democratic community to foster liberal and pro-market policies in Eastern Europe. Such a move was clearly directed at easing Belarusian and Moldovan integration into the E.U.-N.A.T.O political, economic and security architecture, while at the same time securing the transport of Caspian oil and gas resources to the Eastern and Northern European markets via Georgia and Ukraine, thus bypassing Russian and Belarusian territories.

For Washington's broad geopolitical aims, Poland is gaining more and more importance. Warsaw's goals coincide with Washington's interests on a number of foreign policy issues. The new containment of Russia is certainly the most evident, but on a more general cultural and ideological level Warsaw's commitment to liberal democracy and pro-market reforms can prove decisive to carry American values in Eastern Europe, where populist policymakers can easily achieve wide popular support.

Moreover, from the American view, Poland's role in the enlarged Europe is also one of containment versus the French and German ambition to lead a united continent from a more autonomous one. However, the Franco-German combine is losing momentum, and some influential politicians in Paris and Berlin (like Nicolas Sarkozy and Angela Merkel) do not share plans to build a European superpower if it is not in a solid partnership with the United States.

If the more free market oriented policymakers take the lead in Warsaw's coming right wing coalition, pro-British and pro-American politicians in Western Europe will gain an even more valuable ally. However, national contexts still play a major role in the European Union, and dramatic changes in the economic policies in France, Germany and Italy are less likely than progressive re-adjustments of national social models.
Next month there will be presidential elections there. The current, more leftie President will most likely be replaced by a rightie president. Normally parliamentary and presidential elections do not occur at the same time, but with the former occuring every four years and the latter every five, they had to coincide eventually.

It's all very interesting.

UPDATE : Added more of the article, had left out some more interesting bits. For those of you who never click on the links!
ยท Linked Article

Posted by Lucia Maria | 9/29/2005 10:11:00 PM

5 Comments:

Blogger Chefen said...

Good, Europe needs a counter to the patronising twits in Berlin and Paris. Britain can't be bothered doing it anymore so fingers crossed for the Eastern states, what an irony that'd be.

9/30/2005 12:35:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm not sure about that, Blair has been kicking ass in Europe lately.

9/30/2005 01:13:00 AM  
Blogger Chefen said...

Well he needs to kick a lot bloody harder, preferably hard enough so that Chirac and Schroeder land in Moscow.

I wonder how pissy Chirac will be with the upstarts in the East now. They are not playing at all by his little game plan.

9/30/2005 01:27:00 AM  
Blogger sagenz said...

The article is simply stating the obvious lucyna. Poland is always going to be on the anglo american axis. which country declared war on its behalf in 1939 and offered haven to its government. The EU has changed completely with the Poles joining. There is no longer an EU centre controlling but the ring around the centre, anglo,scanda, CEE, Italy.

Personally I prefer your own analysis.

9/30/2005 09:02:00 AM  
Blogger Lucyna said...

Well, Sage, watch out for an even bigger shakeup now that the right has gained power over there. It looks to me like the more forthright and determined elements are gaining ascendancy.

What I like about articles like this is that in NZ, most people will have no idea of the changes that Poland is making now that it's part of the EU. Just the old British-French-German dynamic is reported only.

9/30/2005 10:50:00 AM  

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