Original by Stanislav Stremidlovskiy published by IA Regnum; translated from Russian by J.Hawk
The Law and Justice (PiS) ruling party parliamentary caucus has launched a proposal to transform the West Institute in Poznan into a new research center named the Zygmunt Wojciechowski Western Institute. Sejm Deputy Tadeusz Dziuba informed the Nasz Dziennik weekly that right now Poland needs at least one state institution that would provide national and local Polish government information on Germany and Polish-German relations within the EU. Another Sejm deputy, Szymon Szynkowski, stated that Poland’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs has not been relying on the work on experts specializing in Polish-German ties. The PiS Party wants to change that state of affairs. If the proposed legislation is adopted, the Wojciechowski Institute will be subordinated directly to the Prime Minister. It is intended to be a strategic center that will study the situation of Poles in Germany, Germany’s migration policy, and Poland’s security in the international context. “We must constantly analyze the situation and draw conclusions,” emphasized Szynkowski.
PiS explains the choice of Poznan for the center’s location in terms of the role it played between mid-1940s and 1970s. This adds a certain piquancy to the whole intrigue associated with creating a center dedicated to the study of Germany. There is some irony in that PiS which is hostile to Poland’s communist past and which refuses to recognize the People’s Republic of Poland (PRL) as deserving a spot in Poland’s national history, is nevertheless making a reference to that period. Secondly, any country’s foreign policy entails classifying foreign partners along a spectrum from friendly to unfriendly. The establishment of analytical centers, development of research programs and university curricula, hiring of specialists is predicated by that classification. One thing is for certain: friends are not studied and analyzed, friends must be trusted. But potential enemies and even ordinary competitors have to be watched closely. And the Poles’ attitude toward the Germans after 1945 is well known. Subsequent events only added the systemic West against the East block conflict to the already complex (to put it mildly) history of bilateral Polish-German relations, and represented another factor in the negative perception of the second German state, the FRG, byPRL.
After the PRL’s liquidation and the establishment of the III Rzeczpospolita (Republic) followed by joining NATO and EU, many in Warsaw came to believe these two institutions are sufficient to contain Berlin which, incidentally, was not demonstrating revanchist sentiments toward its eastern neighbor. IN time, however, it became clear that one does not need tanks to overrun a country. German economy invested in Poland to such an extent that profits realized by German firms in Poland exceeded profits realized in Russia. German media conglomerates established control over Poland’s national and local media. The German political machine recruited a sizable portion of Warsaw’s political scene, with the Citizens’ Platform (PO) which twice succeeded in forming the government. It would appear that Berlin’s penetration of Poland was so complete that PiS, which replaced PO in power, had to sever these ties right from the start and in a rather crude manner. German politicians’ pained reaction to PiS actions clearly indicate these actions hit their target.
The new government began to examine the situation it inherited and drew unpleasant conclusions. It turned out that Poland knows about the West much more than the West knows about Poland. Appearing at a recent conference in Krakow which was dedicated to promoting the country in the world, historian and writer Adam Zamoyski acknowledged that as a young man, he encountered only two or three brief references to Poland in Anglo-Saxon or French history of Europe, “sometimes Sobieski, sometimes Kosciuszko.” Zamoyski recalled how Edmund Burke condemned the partition of Poland in the 18th century while at the same time admitting that its disappearance changed nothing on Europe’s political map. “It’s as if Poland was on the Moon,” Zamoyski said. Indeed, these days the West associates Poland with nothing except two historical figures, sometimes Lech Walesa, sometimes Pope John Paul II. The country might as well still be on the Moon.
Warsaw wants to change that. The problem here is that the Moon is a satellite with a mind of its own. As it approaches the Earth, it magnifies the tides, causes flooding and other problems. The beginning of a strategic study of Germany in the context of bilateral and European relations is one of the mechanisms of the Moon’s approach, and also a testimony to its growing fear for its place in the EU. The Krakow-based web site Polonia Christiana took the Dutch idea to establish a small Schengen zone seriously and decided it would serve Germany’s interests. One should note the geography of the privileged countries, the creme de la creme of Category A Europe: Belgium, Netherlands, Luxembourg, Germany, and Austria. EU is collapsing before our eyes. Central Europe and Poland, Baltic States and the Vyshegrad group, as well as Croatia and Slovenia are rather more likely to be the targets of Germany’s economic aggression due to their backwardness and European “immaturity.” On top of that, Polonia Christiana argues that Warsaw has to consider the possibility of possible cooperation between Berlin and Moscow.
Poland is preparing for Europe’s new geopolitical configuration, with the expectation that Berlin will initiate the transformation leading to the formation of new regional blocks, even though the EU might formally retain its external appearance. In that respect, Warsaw’s desire to more closely examine its western neighbor is understandable. Let’s see how the Germans respond.