1 – New Sound From Warsaw
BSSB.BE carnegieeurope.eu 23.03.2016
Witold Waszczykowski doesn’t mince his words. Poland’s top diplomat had no qualms about defending his country’s policies at a time when Poland’s conservative Law and Justice government is being criticized for reining in the judiciary and state media in ways that could undermine Poland’s vibrant democracy.
When I met him in his office in Warsaw for an exclusive interview for Carnegie Europe, the Polish foreign minister exuded confidence and conviction as we covered a wide range of issues. I asked him first about the causes of the migration crisis and Poland’s policy toward it.
Witold Waszczykowski: The migration crisis happened because of negligence. For years, Europe was concentrating on the eurozone crisis, on Grexit, and then on Brexit. Europe didn’t pay attention to the Arab Spring.
It neglected some of the conflicts [in its neighborhood]. Some, such as the one in Libya, were created by European intervention. Because the EU focused on domestic issues, these crises developed around Europe and created a massive wave of migrants and refugees.
Judy Dempsey: Why won’t Poland accept even a small share of refugees?
WW: Because they will not stay in Poland, which is in the Schengen Area [of open borders]. Immediately they will go to Germany or Sweden or Austria. According to European standards, if we accept these people in Poland, mostly on a voluntary basis, we are supposed to register them, we are supposed to provide them with some assistance, some money, documents, and IDs. And with their Polish IDs, they are free to go.
We put a bigger emphasis on security
• Our predecessors thought that Poland’s security was reassured simply by Poland being a member of NATO and the European Union.
• In my opinion, it is not enough to be a member. It’s just a precondition to be active and actively shape the policies of these institutions—in an ambitious way, to shape the whole policies of these institutions; and in a less ambitious way, to shape and direct the Eastern dimension of these institutions. This is the difference.
• We are coming back to the ideas of the first Law and Justice government of 2005–2007. At that time, we tried to convince people that it was not enough to be a member of NATO. That’s why we started those long discussions with the Americans over missile defense.
JD: Because you didn’t feel secure?
WW: We joined NATO in 1999 as a secondary member under political conditions, because simultaneously with the enlargement of NATO there was a NATO-Russian declaration that NATO troops could not be deployed in this part of Europe. Our membership is conditional. If there is a problem, which divisions would support us, from where, and when? So that was the problem when we started the discussions about security.
That is the most important problem, because Poland has had bad experiences in its history. We want to be cautious. We have a war behind our doors right now. We have an aggressive neighbor that is openly proclaiming the redrawing of the borders of Europe. We don’t want to wait to be tested for years. We want to be protected right now. That’s all.
JD: So you are making amends for the shortfalls of Poland’s original membership in NATO?
WW: We are not asking for a lot. We are just asking for a token, some symbolic presence that would be proof that in case of problems, there would be a determination to defend us.
JD: Will the NATO summit in Warsaw in July fully embrace the alliance’s Eastern members?
WW: We are telling NATO that the decisions of the [September 2015] Wales summit are not enough;
• think about how to reassure us, how to help in case we have an incident. Russia now has anti-access and area denial [capabilities] that can prevent and hamper assistance.
• That is why we have to go beyond Wales and create a real presence on NATO’s Eastern flank. We don’t want to break the Paris Declaration of 1997. We don’t want to break NATO’s relationship with Russia.
• The other part [of what we are asking], about military deployment, refers to substantial troops on the territories of new member states. At that time, “substantial” was defined as two heavy divisions. We are just talking about a multilateral brigade.
WW: There are different challenges. The challenges coming from the South may do a lot of harm to Greece, Italy, or Germany. But 1 million migrants will not destroy Germany. It will be a very hectic situation for the German administration, but this is not an existential challenge or threat.
WW: The sanctions are not a favor for us. Russia violated international law. The Russians violated the UN charter. They illegally annexed Crimea. For two hundred years, we have been trying to create an international system in which war is not used as an instrument for changing borders. So now the sanctions are not only in favor of our situation but in favor of the whole community.
Euroscepticism Geopolitics Conflicts
• npr.org/ – Spy –Spyer – The Spyest – “Russia has always had a very strong counterintelligence capability, and Putin would be well-schooled in this,” says John McLaughlin, who served as acting director of the CIA in 2004, during Putin’s first stint as president. McLaughlin says the aides in whom Putin might confide are mostly ex-KGB, too. “The inner circle there would be very conscious of how they communicate, conscious of who meets whom. So it’s a tough environment for intelligence.
• politico.eu – Dangerous Alternative for Germany – The final results of the local elections in the central German state of Hesse last Sunday were a cold shower for the ruling coalition. The new opposition party Alternative for Germany (AfD) won seats in every municipal council in that state, receiving an unprecedented 16.2% of the vote in Hesse’s capital of Wiesbaden. They even pulled in approximately 12% in cosmopolitan Frankfurt am Main – the largest city in Hesse, where voter turnout was a record low (37.3%).
• capx.co/e – Noam Chomsky joins DiEM25 – March 14, 2016– Distinguished American linguist, philosopher and political activist, Noam Chomsky, has officially endorsed DiEM25, the Democracy in Europe Movement launched last month by Greece’s former Finance Minister, Yanis Varoufakis. “The formation of the European Union,” explained Chomsky, “was a highly encouraging step forward in world affairs, with great promise.”