January 23, 2017 - Kaja Puto
The plans for the future of TV Belsat presented by Foreign Minister Witold Waszczykowski are a good excuse for an overall reflection on Poland’s eastern policy as it is being conducted today. The proposal to drastically reduce Belsat’s funding and pass those savings on to funds for a new Polish-language channel to be broadcast abroad, including officially to Belarus, should not be seen as a one-off decision. It is a symptom of a fundamental turn-around: the departure from the assumptions that have guided nearly 25 years of Poland’s policy towards its Eastern European neighbours. Symbolically, this change can be described as “a farewell to Giedroyc”.
January 17, 2017 - Katarzyna Pełczyńska-Nałęcz
Donald Trump’s election has raised concerns in Warsaw that the USA may be less willing to engage in European security and try and strike a bargain with Russia over the heads of Poland and other post-communist states. But while there are clearly potential risks for Polish security policy, Warsaw is likely to remain one of the Washington’s closest European allies. Trump’s victory also allows Poland’s right-wing ruling party to position itself as being in the vanguard of an anti-elitist and anti-liberal zeitgeist sweeping through the West.
December 2, 2016 - Aleks Szczerbiak
In Warsaw the signs of the Second World War are everywhere. A plaque tells you that 510 Poles were executed by Nazis in the place where you buy flowers and cucumbers. Copper outlines on the street remind you each day of the location of the Warsaw Ghetto walls. Another plaque commemorates 450 injured Polish combatants who were burned alive by Nazis in the very room that you work. These memorials are particularly common in Wola, a neighbourhood that saw heavy fighting during the Warsaw Uprising in 1944. The conflict ended with the death of 200,000 Polish civilians and combatants and the expulsion and imprisonment of 700,000 survivors. Wola was also part of the Warsaw Ghetto, in which a significant portion of the city’s 350,000 Jews were imprisoned and ultimately killed or sent to extermination camps by Nazi Germany. By the time the Soviet army finally entered the city, only six percent of its original 1.3 million inhabitants were left alive. After some time, however, the innumerable memorials to the dead that litter the streets of Warsaw eventually blend into the living fabric of a vibrant European capital. Some days it is possible to forget that you live in one of the most brutalised cities of the Second World War.
September 1, 2016 - Michael Połczyński and Kaitlin Staudt
I often say that what happened in Polish-Ukrainian relations after the fall of the Berlin Wall was a geopolitical revolution. I compare it to the French and German reconciliation in the 1950s. While that laid the foundation for a new post-war Europe, a Polish-Ukrainian reconciliation creates the possibility of this construction extending further East. Moreover, the stakes in Polish-Ukrainian relations always were, and indeed continue to be, about more than just Poland and Ukraine.
July 13, 2016 - Yaroslav Hrytsak
The post-war history of West Berlin (and later unified Berlin) is above all the history of migration. Today, Berlin is the dreamed-of destination for refugees from the Middle East, but only thirty years ago it was Poles who submitted the majority of asylum claims in West Germany. Unfortunately, despite having had similar experiences to Middle Easterners, Berlin-based Poles do not show much empathy towards the newcomers.
July 5, 2016 - Kaja Puto
Polish-German stereotypes have varied across time and have been heavily dependent on the period in history, people’s personal experiences and the political climate. As such, they have often been used to manipulate Polish and German societies. Formed and transformed by the changing realities, they have influenced the ways in which Polish and Germans view one another.
June 22, 2016 - Kinga Gajda
When we think back to June 1991, we see great value in the treaty between Poland and Germany. It was a new beginning in relations between the two states. Yet, the treaty was more than bilateral, it was also a building bloc in the construction of a new Europe, without which there would be no united Germany, NATO or the European Union. Every time I cross the Polish-German border, which nowadays is merely a formal line, seeing as there are no controls or checkpoints, I feel like a free European. I feel the positive aspect of history and the great decisions that led us here. I write this because as a teenager, I experienced a completely different reality, a continent divided by the iron curtain. Even in the 1990s, a time when Poland was already free and Germany had united, cross-border travel was not as pleasant an experience as it is today, because the Oder and Nysa rivers marked the periphery of the European Union. At that time, we still had to wait at the border and go through border control.
June 16, 2016 - Basil Kerski