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Crippling Dualities

The Economist has a a translation of a terrific article by former Polish Foreign Minister Adam Rotfeld, which was originally published in Gazeta Wyborcza earlier this summer.  Rotfeld gets to the bottom of the many competing and complimentary motives which have drawn Russia and Poland into closer relations over the past year.

Our thinking should be rooted in the realization that change in Russian policy towards Poland is part of a much broader strategy towards the external world. Moscow perceives Poland in the context of Russian policy addressed towards the entire West, particularly the US and Europe. Our perception of Russia and its political impact on our security is incomparably greater that the place of Poland in Russia’s thinking about the world and its strategic political decisions. The time is ripe to reassess our attitude to Russia and to redefine our long-term expectations.


Forthe first time ever we have a unique opportunity of co-writing theWest’s strategy towards Russia – both within NATO and the EU – in linewith our national interests. This requires serious and maturereflection. Also, we need to discard the complexes that overshadow ourdebate on Russia.

And that debate often reflectsa mixture of inferiority and superiority complexes. On the one hand, wehear concerns that “Russia is still playing Poland”, and on the other,that the so-called historic policy is our main asset and instrument.According to Robert Krasowski, it was conceived as a “politicalinstrument to help the right weaken the left, and to let Poland as awhole win international games”; history “was supposed to assistpolitics, to be its asset, to allow the obtainment of additionalbenefits as redress for past wrongs” (“Rozkwit czy ostateczne fiascopolityki historycznej?” /The Rise or the Final Fiasco of HistoricPolicy?/, Europa, No.2/2010).  (…)

We will win the understanding and support of our Western partners ifPolish postulates are dictated by a political philosophy of including(rather than excluding) Russia; if they encourage Russia to abandon ColdWar rhetoric and are based on a common search for ways of overcomingdivisions by utilizing existent institutions (such as the NATO-RussiaCouncil or the OSCE) rather than creating new structures. Themultiplication of new entities beyond need does not make sense. Weshould base our relations with Russia on the principle of reciprocityand interdependence, openness, transparency and predictability.