The backroom conversations and classified files of Foreign Ministries and Departments of State must be a wonderland of speculations and conditionals, of grand schemes and short-term crises. But, judging by the utterances of two former Ministers of Foreign Affairs, Poland’s Ministry is up there with the best of them.
Take Radoslaw (Radek) Sikorski, Minister from 2007 to 2014. Before that he was Minister of Defence, and for a year afterwards, Speaker of Parliament. According to the Center for Strategic & International Studies,
[H]e negotiated and signed the Poland-Russia regional visa-free regime, Poland-U.S. missile defense agreement, and—together with foreign ministers of Germany and France—the accord between the pro-EU opposition and Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych in 2013.
Unfortunately, the latter accord was rendered meaningless by the Maidan coup of 2014. Before this small hiccup, Foreign Policy had ranked him in its top 100 “global thinkers” for “telling the truth even when it’s not diplomatic.” High praise indeed, and Mr Sikorski continues to live up to it. When the Nord Stream pipelines were sabotaged, and in disregard of the official narrative that “the Russians did it,” Mr Sikorski told the inconvenient truth by tweeting a photo of the gas bubbling up in the Baltic, with the caption, “Thank you, USA.” Only a week ago, Sikorski was asked during a radio interview, whether he thought that “ the government of PiS [Poland’s ruling ‘Law and Justice’ party] at some point thought about partition” of Ukraine. He responded, “I think there was a moment of hesitation in the first ten days of the war, when we all did not know how it would go, and perhaps Ukraine would collapse.” It was but a moment though, which was how long it took for the Polish Prime Minister to condemn his comments as “no different from Russian propaganda.”
The attachment of the Poles to “native Polish lands” is on display in the railway stations with recruiting posters for Leopard tank crews which mention “Polish armour in Ukraine,” unless this poster has been mistranslated.
Of more immediate interest to us, especially given the current constitutional debate, are the comments of another former Polish Minster of Foreign Affairs, Anna Fotyga. She is a member of the European Conservatives and Reformists Group in the European Parliament. It was founded in 2009 under the principles of the Prague Declaration, and declares itself to be a centre-right grouping. The principles make interesting and contradictory reading. Many of the principles will be applauded by readers here who consider themselves conservative or centre-right. But the Declaration is sown with mines.
• (1) Free enterprise, free and fair trade and competition, minimal regulation, lower taxation, and small government as the ultimate catalysts for individual freedom and personal and national prosperity.
• (2) Freedom of the individual, more personal responsibility and greater democratic accountability.
• (3) Sustainable, clean energy supply with an emphasis on energy security.
• (4) The importance of the family as the bedrock of society.
• (5) The sovereign integrity of the nation state, opposition to EU federalism and a renewed respect for true subsidiarity.
• (6) The overriding value of the transatlantic security relationship in a revitalised NATO, and support for young democracies across Europe.
• (7) Effectively controlled immigration and an end to abuse of asylum procedures.
• (8) Efficient and modern public services and sensitivity to the needs of both rural and urban communities.
• (9) An end to waste and excessive bureaucracy and a commitment to greater transparency and probity in the EU institutions and use of EU funds.
• (10) Respect and equitable treatment for all EU countries, new and old, large and small.
Let us turn our eyes modestly from principle (3). It could mean anything, including a reliance on nuclear power, or nothing.
Subsidiarity (5) is the principle that decisions affecting the body politic must be capable of being taken at the lowest possible level in any hierarchy of government, and must in fact be taken at that level. It is the obverse of globalism. Subsidiarity in this document seems to refer primarily to the sovereign integrity of the nation state.
The equitable treatment of (10) extends to countries new and old. What are these new countries? They would certainly include the young democracies of (6). The youngest are the ones that haven’t been created yet. Such countries are certainly on Anna Fotyga’s horizon. It is the possibility of such countries coming into being that focusses conservative and reformist minds on the “overriding value” of a “revitalised NATO.” These notions of nations are bundled up in (6).
What concrete policies might precipitate from this complex mix of requirements, one might wonder? Anna Fotyga illustrated one such policy in an address late last month, which is worth quoting from at length.
Putin and his gang of war criminals are not the cause, but the consequence of the problem, the root of which is the authoritarian and imperial essence of Moscow… [T]oday we find ourselves not in the 16th century of Ivan the Terrible or the 18th of Catherine II, but in the 21st century of international law, common organisations and shared values. The European Parliament and many other parliaments…have labelled the Russian Federation a terrorist state… This terrorist organisation, even if it is seen by many as an empire, should be dismantled…
[T]he international community…must…[support] re-federalisation of the Russian state…and the respect for the rights and desires of its nations. The victims of Russian imperialism should be able to rebuild their own statehoods, exercise their right to celebrate their heritage, and determine their own future…
There are no such things as Russian gas, oil, aluminium, coal, uranium, diamonds, grain, forests, gold, etc. All such resources are Tatar, Bashkir, Siberian, Karelian, Oirat, Circassian, Buryat, Sakha, Ural, Kuban, Nogai, etc. For most of the inhabitants of the regions — be they ethnic Russians or indigenous people — Moscow represents only war, repression, exploitation and hopelessness…
[W]e should discuss the prospects for the creation of free and independent states in the post-Russian space…The international community has the obligation to support the rights of indigenous nations…The same rights must belong to Khakas, Tuvans, Sakha or Evenks… [E]thnic Russians, while being the biggest nation of the Russian Federation, are just one of many…
The rupture of the Russian Federation will bring unquestionable benefits in the security, including energy security, and in the economy of Europe and Central Asia… [N]ew pro-Western states can emerge from within the Russian Federation…
[W]e are glad to host numerous experts, historians, journalists, politicians from both sides of Atlantic, and leaders and representatives of more than 20 nations of the Russian Federation, who will gather in Brussels in the European Parliament to discuss prospects for the decolonisation and deimperialisation of the Russian Federation.
Quite apart from the extreme Russia-hatred of Euroimperialists, generously projected onto “ethnic Russians”, the ostensible justification of this passion for destruction should be familiar to Australians; and not just Australians. It is the argument of supra-national empire against the nation-state, whether it be Australia, Canada, New Zealand or the U.K., because only the nation-state can offer effective resistance to the Borg. The tools of choice for dismembering the nation-state are the nation or nations within, with techniques being developed and refined over a number of decades now. Any nation created by colonisation or conquest is likely to be vulnerable to this approach. For example, Kim Beazley just last year in an address to the Ramsay Centre said,
So in those two acts [the First Fleet and the settlement at Albany] we supplanted with our colonies then and ultimately our nation 250 nations that at that point of time inhabited Australia.
Meanwhile, Poland looks to reinstate the full nation-state of the nation of Poland, so that the “benefits in the security, including energy security, and in the economy” will flow to all Poles when first Ukraine and then Russia are dismembered, by whatever means necessary. Europeans have long memories, but so do Russians (and so do Chinese.) Such memories motivated the best of those who originally sought to transcend long and bitter rivalries in an allegiance to a supra-national Europe.
And here we are, with the power of the EU executive held by a tiny clique; with Norway and Poland feeding on the energy-starved carcass of the once-mighty German industrial colossus; with the Poles marking out their territory on the other side of the borders; with the United States, through NATO, determining the security and hence the foreign policy of Europe; with the European centrifuge spinning up; and with only the external enemy and a proxy war holding the show together.
I wonder what Karol Wojtyla would make of it all?