The Civic Platform-led government of Donald Tusk recently won re-election, becoming the first sitting Polish government to retain power since the end of communism. As Guy Taylor explains, the government’s intelligent, more conciliatory foreign policy contributed to this by increasing Poland’s influence and improving its relations with neighboring countries:
The result is that Poland has assumed the dual role of Western Europe’s strategic face in Eastern Europe and Eastern Europe’s champion in the union. Tusk’s dexterity in carrying out both functions also gave Poland leverage toward what during his first term was dubbed as a “mini-reset” in relations with Russia, said Kobzova.
“There’s definitely a desire within the new government to continue warming ties with Russia, especially in terms of boosting trade,” she said. “They are completely aware of Russia’s problems, but they realize that by criticizing Russia on their own, they’re not going to achieve anything.”
By instead embracing a strategy in which Poland’s posture toward Russia reflects that of the whole European Union, Kobzova added, the Tusk government has also succeeded in improving relations with Berlin.
One of the standard lines that we hear from many Republican candidates, elected representatives, and pundits is that Poland has been “betrayed” in recent years because of the thaw in U.S.-Russian relations. It is worth remembering that the supposed American “betrayals” of Poland, especially as they relate to missile defense issues, aren’t perceived that way by a lot of the Polish public, and the current Polish government has had an interest in pursuing conciliatory policies toward both Germany and Russia. As the Polish president’s foreign policy adviser put it a few months ago, “We are now accommodating our real interests, not overblown ambitions.” Would that U.S. foreign policy could be so sensible.