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Adrienne Warren

Poland’s Future in the EU: On Its Own Terms

Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski spoke on Wednesday to key representatives of the Polish government about the future goals of Poland’s foreign policy. Sikorski highlighted certain historical achievements in Polish history, and cited the nation’s progress in recent years. The Minister stressed the need for Poland to press onward, and not to rest on its achievements, saying, “Following a successful transformation, Poland is tempted to slow down and bask in its own undisputed achievements. After all, our country has never been more prosperous. But the role of diplomacy – as I perceive it – is to wisely support the process of modernization and to ensure that Poland thrives in a stable and friendly international environment.”

Red and Green (Warsaw), author Bartek Kuzia, source Flickr

Red and Green (Warsaw), author: Bartek Kuzia, source: Flickr

Sikorski emphasised the necessity of Poland’s move towards the eurozone, explaining that in spite of a rocky year for the European currency, it was an intrinsic part of Poland’s broadening future. Sikorski elucidated, saying:

“Integration is increasingly being spurred on by cooperation in the areas of finance and banking. The eurozone has changed considerably since the crisis first erupted…We will be able to safely join the eurozone – which we are today helping to fix – only if it undergoes such changes and reforms. But choosing to permanently remain outside the euro area would limit our room for manoeuvre. We will thus face a choice: we can either stay in the mainstream of economic, financial, and political integration, or we can stand on the sidelines, squandering the opportunity to achieve faster growth and have our say in EU policies.”

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Sikorski has said that Poland, already a key player in the European Union, would be increasingly significant as part of the eurozone, and even more vital within the Union as it would be made part of the “hard-core of European decision-makers”.  Such a shift would boost Poland’s personal and collective future, Sikorski feels.

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In addition, the Minister underscored that for a stronger Polish nation, stronger relations with neighbours would also have to be created. As Sikorski put it, “a strong Poland in the EU also means a stronger Visegrad Group.” Referring to the alliance between Central European nations, Hungary, Poland, Czech Republic and Slovakia. Sikorski congratulated the Visegrad Group on its joint successes, giving the example that the foursome now account for Germany’s biggest  and most important European trading partner.

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Sikorski addressed relations with neighbours to the East too, saying that Poland supports the introduction of a visa-free regime between European Union countries and Russia, Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova, and that the country has great expectations for the Eastern Partnership summit taking place in November:

“We have high hopes for the Eastern Partnership Summit to be held in Vilnius in November. Full success will come with the signing of association and free trade agreements with Ukraine and the conclusion of negotiations on similar agreements with Moldova, Georgia, and Armenia. We are striving to include the citizens of Georgia, Ukraine and Moldova, as well as Russia, in a visa-free system.”

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Sikorski spoke specifically about Ukraine’s transition into modern democracy, and its hopes to sign the Association Agreement in November, offering Poland’s support:

“Should Ukraine create the conditions for signing the association agreement, Poland will endeavour to grant the country a European perspective at the upcoming Eastern Partnership summit.”

Sikorski also expounded on Polish relations with Russia, expressing the wish that the two nations could enhance positive relations: “We are interested in cooperation with Russia, in particular between regions and local communities.”  He noted the positive experience of travel between border regions of Russia and Poland, where since last summer, residents of the Kaliningrad Region, Russia’s exclave on the Baltic Sea, and Polish border regions have been able to cross the border without visas.

Likewise, Sikorki named the United States as one of the country’s most important non-European partners, for which Poland would continue to advocate close cooperation.

The Foreign Minister defined Poland’s role in extening support across the globe for countries in transition:

“Poland’s peaceful transformation experiences are the main driver of our development cooperation. They seem most useful in the post-Soviet East, but we are also hosting specialized training courses for civil servants from countries in or on the verge of transition, including Afghanistan, Egypt, Libya, Myanmar or Tunisia. In the Arab world, we will continue to focus on supporting democratization, both bilaterally and in the southern dimension of the European Neighbourhood Policy.”

Poland’s history has made it purpose built to assist other nations in their developmental processes, Sikorski has said.

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Read the full text: 

Foreign Minister’s Address on the goals of Polish foreign policy in 2013

Feature image by  Blazej Mrozinski

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Graduated in International Relations and Russian. Resident of Estonia, but a citizen of the world. Most interested in contributing to the progress and education of mankind--as the primary tool of achieving global unity.

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