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The Role of Poland in Euro-Atlantic Relationships*

Krzysztof Miszczak


The Author (Ph.D.) was former envoy and formerly head of the Department of European Security Policy in the Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs and is First Adviser of Foreign and Security Policy in European Department in this Ministry. Lecturer at the Warsaw School of Economics and the Academy for International Relations and Security Policy Łódź.
Poland's foreign policy in the wake of the transformations of 1989 and the country's joining of NATO ten years later is basically influenced by her shaking off the geo-political dependence on the German and Russian neighbourhood. The political and strategic aim of the foreign policy, which is full integration with the Western democracies, should be soon achieved by Poland's joining the European Union in May 2004. Of essence in this respect will be the future state of interests in Europe, in which the country is to find its course after adoption of EU's political constitution. The position of the Polish government worked out for the EU inter-governmental conference held from 4 October to 12/13 December 2003, regarding the adoption of the Union's political convention includes four stipulations: i) defence of the system of decision-making in the Council of European Union introduced by the UE conference in Nice (2000), ii) embodiment in the preamble to the EU constitution of an invocation of Christian traditions, iii) support for the rule "one country-one commissioner" with full voting rights for all commissioners, and iv) non-creation within the European Union of military alliances competitive to NATO.
After the first rounds of consultations in Rome it was already clear that those objectives of the Polish government may be attained only in part.
Regarding Poland's future role and significance in Europe we should admit that the latter of the above stipulations is as important as the first one. If the draft constitution in its present form were to be adopted, it would mean affirmation of the dominant role of the European powers at the expense of the smaller countries' interests, with Germany becoming a virtually dominant continental power supported by France, selectively by Italy, and, in consequence, by Britain, which, as itself a strong country, would be interested in such distribution of political weight in Europe. Ignoring smaller countries' interests would end up with a political disaster and depreciation of the very idea of true partnership, equality and solidarity within the EU, thus effectively frustrating, for long years to come, the integration schemes within the European continent.
Poland supports the building up of the EU's Common Foreign and Security Policy in so far as it does not undermine the structures and security doctrine of NATO as the sole European structure of collective defence of members of the Alliance. Further development of European identity, security and defence, should not entail the practice of doubling of allied forces and command structures; it is therefore that Warsaw, sensing such doubling, exercises restraint towards any such initiatives as the Franco-German-Belgian-Luxemburgian one of April this year. From that angle, the effects of last September's meeting of the German, French and British representations is worthy of support, provided it does not derange the structures of transatlantic partnership. Consequently, any ideas of creating a command centre for EU operations outside of NATO Alliance structures will not find support from Polish representation. Any possible creation of a European unit for the exercise of planning and command, which would be linked to NATO or the European Union has a chance to gain support from Poland, providing transparency of collaboration of both organizations is secured.

Security of Euro-Atlantic area

Poland's security is inseparably bound above all with the international region she belongs to, i.e. the European continent. The structures of the North Atlantic Alliance have so far provided opportunities for effective participation in the Western, i.e. Trans-Atlantic, system of security with its strong guarantees based on the power of Allies, thus being capable of exerting effective influence on its geo-political environment. The deep crisis in the Trans-Atlantic relations, and within the NATO itself, accelerated by the war in Iraq, came as a big surprise to the Polish foreign policy. Its lasting feature is a new quality. Poland, by maintaining firm support for the US stance-as did most of the European countries-declared for solidarity and unity of the Euro-Atlantic alliance, signalling that the problem of Iraq must lead to a unanimous and solid stance in Europe itself, and declared she is prepared to support its principal ally as much as she can, also militarily. The active participation of Poland in the stabilization forces in Iraq should not be interpreted as standing by the United States against Europe, but most of all, as providing clear support to liberation ideals and basic human rights in Iraq. Poland, like other sovereign states, conducts its foreign policy in line with the nation's interests in the context of multilateral loyal collaboration with her allies.
The New Strategy of National Security provides that Poland will share in the strengthening of international peace, both regionally and globally, binding its security with the security of the Euro-Atlantic area. The country's involvement in the past operations in the Balkans, and now in Iraq, will bear the character of a model solution to conflicting situations, primarily through civilian means and ultimately through military ones. By conducting its friendly policy towards the United States, Poland wants to adjust European and US interests by building relationships between Europe and the United States on the foundation of strategic partnership.
The collaboration of Poland with the United States is sensible and should be the country's contribution to the processes of harmonization of the relationship between Washington and Brussels. One should realize, however, that Poland's alliance with the United States, as any other alliances, is meant chiefly as a means of strengthening the country's security. The relationship with the United States affects the position of Poland in Europe and in the world. Nevertheless, Poland is also interested in sharing initiatives purely European, seeking broad allied support for its policy.
However, there will be no effective European policy without a consensus of France, Great Britain and Germany on the most important European problems. Collaboration with those countries is a key issue for Poland, though sensible only when those countries have agreed, between themselves, to create a framework of common European policy. Warsaw' s joining in non-institutionalised European structures such as the Weimar Triangle (France, Germany and Poland) has a deep sense, but only when those structures are seriously treated by the other, more powerful partners. It seems that only the overt engagement of Poland on the side of the United States, and her military part played in the stabilization of the situation in Iraq, has "added more value" to the Polish partner in the eyes of Paris and Berlin.
The conception of new Polish foreign policy also goes along the idea of enhancing the significance of the United Nations Organization by its reorganization to become a global structure of security, as proposed by the Polish Minister of Foreign Affairs, Wł. Cimoszewicz, at the latest forum of General Council of United Nations Organization held late in September this year.

Old Europe in opposition to the US

Europe has still a long way to become a full value partner to the United States. An aspiration to create such an alternative is for many reasons unrealistic and hazardous. In the near future Europe is not capable of effectively defending its security interests by its own deterrent forces, which are now only in the stage of formation. Besides, it seems little realistic that both nuclear powers-France and Britain should like to subordinate their nuclear weapons systems to a supra-national European command, not to mention little usefulness of such systems in fighting threats from supra-national terrorism, and proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.
Undoubtedly, the greatest weakness of the policy of "old Europe's states" has been the formulation of its European identity in opposition to the policy of the United States. The attempt to build European structures of security in response to the unilateral policy of Washington does no suffice. The primitive anti-Americanism evoking the idea of "pacifism" in Europe and having been demonstrated during the Iraq war must not be an element of European integration which would justify formulation of specific interests of the two leading powers in Europe-France and Germany. The French policy in its Napoleonic version, as well as any ideas of possible "Hapsburgization" of Europe, or refreshment of the conception of "Mitteleuropa", are not ways for unification of Europe to proceed.
Common refusal of the global policy of the United States by European nations does not automatically translate into the creation of a consistent policy conception for Europe, as a whole, and a policy for Europe, as a partner of the global policy of the United States. A clear weakness of the European states' policy so far is the absence of balanced harmonization of national policies of participants in the process of European integration, where the interests of all the states concerned with that process would be carefully balanced. The dictating by the strongest European countries the traditionally defined security reasons to others, on grounds of those countries' prevailing economic and population potentials, is a policy dating back to the 19th /20th century and not up to the 21st century requirements. Such a policy invites suspicion about the emergence of new forms of the drive for domination on the European continent, and will effectively undermine the integration processes in Europe. The creation of various kinds of "axes" in Europe provides more justification to those suspicions.
One of the crucial tasks for the Polish foreign policy in the near future will be to convince the allies in NATO and other international organizations that they should follow a common policy allowing for new challenges in the realization of security. The preparation of NATO for the new challenges in line with the new agenda of tasks should cement a new quality of relations of partnership between Europe and the United States. It is essential not only to avoid wrecking of the actual advantages of the political, security and economic collaboration between the two sides of the Atlantic, but also to realize virtual non-existence of any reasonable alternative to that collaboration, and the symbiosis which has developed over the years between those two political and economic areas. The inter-dependence of strategic interests between Europe and the United States will long remain a lasting and evident function of the respective mutual relationships.

Milanówek, November, 2003
Copyright by Krzysztof Miszczak
e-mail: krzysztof.miszczak@msz.gov.pl.
* The article will be published in "Foreign Policy" (USA) in January/February 2004.

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