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Tag: Poland

Poland should be a supportive partner towards Germany instead of a scoffer

The anti-European and anti-Teutonic phobias of the ruling party are perilous for Polish interests.

January 5, 2023 - Eugeniusz Smolar

What Germany does not know

The end of the balance of power in the EU with policies decided by so-called “old Europe” could be one key consequence of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. This ongoing shift needs to result in a strategic alliance between Poland and Germany. However, is this possible?

December 14, 2022 - Anna Kwiatkowska

Poland’s Ukrainian refugee assistance as a transformational experience

Russia’s war in Ukraine has changed not only Ukraine but also nearby countries due to the massive influx of war refugees. Poland has become the major destination for people fleeing from the war and hosts the highest number of those seeking shelter. What does this new Ukrainian diaspora mean for Poland and what impact will it have on Polish politics, demography and society?

Immediately after Russia’s full-scale invasion started on February 24th 2022, war refugees began to stream into neighbouring countries, with Poland quickly becoming the main destination. The refugee influx found the Polish state unprepared for such a situation. There was no pre-existing infrastructure nor administrative experience that would be sufficient to comprehensively manage the crisis by state agencies and civil servants.

December 7, 2022 - Maciej Makulski

What the past is for. Polish-Ukrainian memory politics and Putin’s war

Despite contentious differences in memory, Polish-Ukrainian relations have remained close and notably strong in important national moments. This reflects two aspects of Polish society: a generation of youth acclimated to supporting Ukrainian sovereignty with compassion, and a national memory politics which allows humanitarianism, but only when it fits into a politically suitable narrative.

In 2003 the Polish philosopher and historian of ideas Leszek Kołakowski gave a speech at the American Library of Congress titled, “What the Past is For”. Kołakowski believed that history serves not to predict the future nor to gain technical advice on how to deal with the present, but to discover the values constitutive of human identities. He told his listeners that “to say that [the events of the past] do not matter to our lives would be almost as silly as saying that it would not matter to me if I were suddenly to erase from my memory my own past personal life … The history of past generations is our history, and we need to know it in order to be aware of our identity; in the same sense in which my own memory builds my personal identity, makes me a human subject.”

December 7, 2022 - Daniel Edison

Modern Europe – forged in the Gdańsk Shipyard

In recent years Polish collective memory has become too focused on the military traditions of freedom and independence fighters. This approach overlooks the thinking and achievements of the 1970s and 1980s, which were the result of peaceful social movements. By opting for non-violence, the ten-million-strong Solidarity movement, Solidarność, chose a difficult, but in the end effective, path.

The historic Gdańsk Shipyard is one of the most important memory sites in Europe today. It is a complex that includes Solidarity Square, alongside the Monument of the Fallen Shipyard Workers of 1970, the historic Gate Number 2, the former BHP Hall (a place where in 1980 the famous August Accords between the communist authorities and the democratic opposition were negotiated) and the European Solidarity Centre (ECS). Upon the ECS’s initiative the shipyard was placed on the European Heritage Label list.

September 29, 2022 - Basil Kerski

The unfin(n)ished story of the Baltic alliance

From the region’s perspective, the 1922 Warsaw Accord between Estonia, Finland, Latvia and Poland was a significant step in strengthening geopolitical interests and safeguarding against Russian aggression. Unfortunately, the agreement ultimately failed. This year’s ratification by Finland’s parliament of its application to join NATO can be seen as a final step in this process that began over 100 years ago.

The most promising and – to a certain degree – surprising declaration made by Finland on its interest in joining the NATO Alliance immediately reminded me of the so-called Warsaw Accord. This treaty was drafted 100 years ago on March 17th 1922 and embodied the initiative of a Baltic alliance between Estonia, Finland, Latvia and Poland. Anti-Soviet in nature, cooperation ultimately failed due to reservations expressed by Helsinki. In the summer of 1922 the Finnish parliament – Eduskunta – decided not to ratify the pact. A century later, on May 17th 2022, 188 out of 200 Finnish MPs voted on accession to NATO. The story has come full circle. A story which deserves to be told.

September 29, 2022 - Grzegorz Szymborski

A gap in Polish-German relations

Over 30 years have passed since Germany reunified and signed a pivotal agreement on bilateral affairs with Poland. Meant to signal the start of a new age of co-operation, the treaty’s spirit has nonetheless been challenged by numerous issues both old and new. A renewed agreement is now needed to build a shared future free from the ghosts of the past.

September 29, 2022 - Kinga Gajda

The Queen and Central and Eastern Europe: A personal relationship

The death of Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II has led to an outpouring of tributes from around the world. In this regard, Central and Eastern Europe has been no exception. Such a response is emblematic of a human relationship that increasingly transcended politics.

September 19, 2022 - Niall Gray

Overcoming imperial trauma

Perhaps Poland’s own troubled relationship with Europe and European values, flirtations with quasi-Russian authoritarianism, nationalism and xenophobia, underpinned by aggression, prejudice and contempt – are all symptoms of our unresolved contest with imperial Russia. In other words, we are not Eurosceptic at all. We would truly like to be Europeans, but are restrained by unfinished business with Russia.

News of the Russian invasion of Ukraine caught me off guard in Greece, to where I travelled for a few days of spring and peace, the deficit of both we often find chronic. We are experiencing a seemingly eternal pre-spring, arranged for, by and into variable tones of depression, aggression, despair and sterile dynamism. This is underlined by a repressed impression of pointlessness, sterility, perpetually alternating frost and thawing of the spirit. We anticipate war and an inability to find peace.

July 14, 2022 - Piotr Augustyniak

Central European sensitivity towards Ukraine

After Russia’s aggression in Ukraine, people who live in Central and Eastern Europe were able to quickly assess the situation and express their empathy for Ukrainians. They felt a sense of connection with them and started to help them straight away.

We have always had difficulty when trying to explain what it means when we say “Europe”. Indeed, this concept is dynamic and has undergone many changes over time. That is why in his “Letters to the European Deputies” (Lettres aux députés européens), a Swiss writer and promoter of European federalism in the 1950s, Denis de Rougemont, wrote that it was difficult to place Europe in one space and time. Clearly, the Europe which is seen from nearby, from within or on the periphery, is different from the Europe that is seen from afar. For example, from a remote continent.

July 14, 2022 - Kinga Gajda

The borders of solidarity

When Russia started its open aggression against Ukraine on February 24th, millions of Ukrainians started to flee from the rockets that were now falling on their homes and cities. Clearly, the most obvious direction of escape was to the West, and Poland in particular. However, it was not so clear how Poland would react to this inflow of migrants. A huge conventional war in the 21st century in a neighbouring country was once something unimaginable. As a result, it was difficult for the nation to prepare.

July 14, 2022 - Paulina Siegień

The geopolitics of hospitality

The arrival of millions of Ukrainian refugees in Poland has resulted in an unprecedented humanitarian response from groups and individuals in Polish society. Yet the actual geographies of refugee reception differ significantly from their instrumentalised geopolitical representations by state leaders.

Since the start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, Poland has received over 3.5 million arrivals from Ukraine according to the latest UNHCR reports. This is an exceptional number, and the country became, in the space of one month, the state with the second largest refugee population in the world, lauded domestically as well as internationally for its outpouring of support.

July 14, 2022 - Luiza Bialasiewicz Natalia Barszcz

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