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Tag: Poland

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

What Russia needs most is cash for bombs

An interview with Piotr Woźniak, former president of Polskie Górnictwo Naftowe i Gazownictwo (PGNiG), Poland’s largest gas company. Interviewer: Mykola Voytiv

MYKOLA VOYTIV: If we look at prices and the war, what do you think awaits the European gas market?

PIOTR WOŹNIAK: The sharp rise in natural gas prices was caused by increased demand from the European Union in November and December 2021 – Russia expected this and prepared by not pumping natural gas into underground gas storages in the Netherlands, Austria and Germany. Russia’s aggression in Ukraine only intensified this dynamic. Keep in mind, that natural gas prices are a relative concept. Whilst some are fixed in bilateral contracts for gas supply, such as Russian natural gas, natural gas from the Norwegian continental shelf, or LNG, others are priced in line with European energy exchanges and hubs.

July 14, 2022 - Mykola Voytiv Piotr Woźniak

Is Poland a rising power and what are the implications?

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has highlighted the growing influence of Poland in regional affairs. Indeed, some have even suggested that the country is quickly becoming a power in its own right. Various issues will decide whether or not such a prediction comes true.

July 4, 2022 - Nikolas Kozloff

The Russian invasion has united Poland and Ukraine, two countries with a fractious history

Poland has proven to be one of Ukraine’s most steadfast allies in recent years and especially since Russia’s invasion in February. Despite this, the two countries have not always been so close. Understandings of their shared history could now prove crucial to the future of this new alliance.

May 27, 2022 - Nikolas Kozloff

Poland as a new frontline state

Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine not only wreaked havoc on Ukrainian society but also damaged the regional security architecture of Central and Eastern Europe. For Poland and other states on the Eastern Flank of NATO, it instantly meant that they had all become de facto frontline states.

February 24th marked the end of the world order as we know it when Russian tanks rolled into Ukrainian territory and Russian missiles started to target Ukrainian civilian and military infrastructure. It is by no means an exaggeration to claim that the international security architecture that was shaped after the Second World War is now gone. From the regional perspective, the first day of the Russian aggression changed everything for both Ukraine and its neighbours. Many of these states have been pondering whether they would be next on Putin's list.

April 25, 2022 - Wojciech Michnik

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