1. „Poland’s second return to Europe?” by Paweł Świeboda – 20.12.2007

The parliamentary elections on 21 October 2007 produced a new governing coalition between the Civic Platform and the Polish People’s Party, prompting a sigh of relief in Warsaw’s foreign policy establishment. The new government, headed by Donald Tusk, is set on changing the country’s foreign policy profile and wants to erase memories associated with the self-centred style of their predecessors.

The Kaczyński twins wholeheartedly believed that Poland needed to use every opportunity to assert its national interests, and eagerly used their veto power on a range of issues, including the new EU-Russia partnership agreement, the January 2006 tax package, the directive on the transfer of prisoners, and the European Day Against the Death Penalty. Donald Tusk’s new team will follow a different logic, working more through discussion and persuasion rather than obstruction. The incoming government enjoys strong public support and has the necessary self-confidence to change Poland’s position and perception within the EU.

Poland has been through a rough ride in the past two years with the twin brothers, Lech and Jaroslaw Kaczynski, in two key positions. They focused on the past rather than the future and aimed to strengthen state institutions by weakening mechanisms of public accountability. They pursued an agenda that never quite fitted the rapidly modernizing country, and notoriously believed in conspiracy theories.

The guiding principles of Poland’s new foreign policy are already clear. The government knows that putting national interests first would signal continuity with the previous government. They are also aware of the fact that a clear policy change would require new allies and tangible policy objectives. Tusk has a unique opportunity to design a foreign policy that matches a new era in Polish history – one that is no longer burdened with the aspirational agenda of the pre-2004 period. With Poland having joint the Council of Europe, OECD, NATO and the European Union (and scheduled to become member of the Schengen zone in December 2007), Tusk can now safely reflect on his own model of foreign and European policy.

The Tusk government has a genuine opportunity to formulate an altogether different framework for Poland’s international engagement. At present, everything suggests that the government will adopt a pragmatic stance in foreign policy. However, a mixed picture is emerging about what they can realistically achieve, especially in light of President Kaczyński’s ambition to continue shaping the foreign policy agenda. Success will also depend on the personal ambition and competence of the newly appointed team of senior decision-makers and advisors.
Read the full policy brief „Poland’s second return to Europe?” (PDF) published on 20 December, 2007 at the website of European Council for Foreign Relations www.ecfr.eu

Paweł Świeboda is President of the Warsaw-based think-tank demos EUROPA-Centre for European Strategy

2. „De nieuwe opening in Polen” (werktitel) door Małgorzata Bos-Karczewska

Na twee jaar populisme gaat Polen weer moderniseren. De nieuwe regering wil een liberaal economisch beleid voeren maar het land krijgt ook een socialer en pro-Europees gezicht. Ook de relaties  tussen burger en staat veranderen – belooft de nieuwe premier. De vraag is of  dat lukt. Sinds 1989 zijn alle regeringen door teleurgestelde kiezers naar huis gestuurd. Zal het nu anders lopen? Wat kan Europa van Polen onder Tusk verwachten?

Het artikel verschijnt in februari 2008 in „Internationale Spectator” uitgave van het Nederlands Instituut voor Internationale Betrekkingen Clingendael

Małgorzata Bos-Karczewska is hoofdredacteur van Polonia.NL, de webportaal van de Poolse gemeenschap in Nederland

published on Polonia.NL on 27.12.2007