Please see below my recent article published in Foreign Policy on the war crimes trial that resulted after the incident in Nangar Khel in 2007.
Poland’s ‘Vietnam Syndrome’ in Afghanistan
In case you missed it, while Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski was visiting the U.S. earlier this month, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton confirmed that the U.S. and Poland were moving ahead with missile defense plans and a permanent U.S. military presence to be stationed in Poland.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has confirmed Washington’s plans to deploy missile defenses and Air Force units in Poland.
“As was announced by our two presidents in December, we plan to establish a new permanent U.S. air detachment in Poland, build missile defenses in Poland, and as agreed at the NATO summit, develop a contingency plan in the region,” Clinton told journalists ahead of talks with Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski in Washington.
Wikileaks published U.S. cables in late 2010 showing that NATO was drawing up a plan on the protection of Estonia, Lithuania and Poland from external threats on a request from the United States and Germany.
Read the full story here.
Related to my last post on a meeting of the Weimar triangle, via Euractiv.com:
Polish President Bronisław Komorowski said yesterday (7 February) that he would welcome Russia to meetings of the Weimar Triangle countries – comprising Poland, Germany and France – as a way of strengthening Moscow’s ties with the EU. EurActiv Poland reports.
In response to Komorowski’s inviting Russia to the Weimar Triangle meetings, French President Sarkozy said:
Komorowski’s approach to relations with Russia is both very intelligent and bold. Such activity will make a good impression and will facilitate the awareness of the fact that the Cold War is no more.
Read the full report here on the web portal of thePolish President.
Great insight from global intelligence site Stratfor on developments in Central and Eastern Europe. Their article entitled: “Nordic-Baltic Alliance and NATO’s Arctic Thaw,” addresses problems facing the Baltic states (February 9):
“Meanwhile, Poland, a fellow Central European state and a potential security partner in countering the Russian resurgence, is being courted by France and Germany to join the EU ruling elite. Monday’s meeting of German Chancellor Angela Merkel and the French and Polish presidents looks to revive the “Weimar Triangle” — with regular meetings of the leaders of the three countries. At the press conference following the meeting, Polish President Bronislaw Komorowski said Russian President Dmitri Medvedev should join the Weimar Triangle discussions, to the nodding approval of French and German leaders. The underlying message was clear: Warsaw may be accepted as an equal to France and Germany — or close to it — if it acquiesced or at least closed its eyes to the emerging Franco-German entente with Russia.
With Poland being wooed by Paris and Berlin, the U.S. consumed by the Islamic world and NATO quickly becoming aloof to their security woes, the Baltic states are turning to the one alternative in the region: Nordic states. The Estonian agreement with Sweden is one example of recent moves by the Baltic states to increase cooperation with the Nordic countries — Sweden, Finland and Norway — of which only Norway is a formal NATO member. Sweden has a history of being a power in the region, with Latvia and Estonia being part of the Swedish Empire until the early 18th century. It also has the most powerful military in the region, a strong armaments industry and a knack for standing up to Moscow in its own sphere of influence, albeit thus far only via the nascent diplomatic initiative, the Eastern Partnership.”
The Eastern Partnership and the Weimar Triangle are two serious diplomatic initiatives that Poland dedicates its time to. Read the rest from Stratfor here (subscription required).
Recently on the official Ghazni PRT blog, there was an interesting story about a little-known aspect of what the Polish contingent in Afghanistan is doing to try to help the Afghan people:
“GHAZNI PROVINCE, Afghanistan – More than 150 contractors participated in a contracting conference held by the Ghazni Provincial Reconstruction Team in Ghazni City Feb. 8. The conference was organized to familiarize contractors from Ghazni Province with the requirements for submitting bids on projects organized by the PRT. The orientation was critical due to the large number of bids rejected as a result of errors, according to the PRT. “This figure reaches up to 70 percent,” said Polish Army Lt. Col. Cezary Kiszkowiak, Ghazni PRT deputy commander.
Organizers were positively surprised by the large number of participants, said Dominika Springer, PRT specialist for NGOs and small businesses. She said in January, they made initial contact with the Afghan Chamber of Commerce and Industry. “By collaborating with this institution we were able to reach a very large number of contractors with information and invitations about the conference,” said Springer. “Interestingly, information about the training also reached beyond the borders of the province as we also met people from Kabul at the conference.”
The training for contractors was the first of its kind in Ghazni Province.
Angela Szyszlo (right), a Ghazni Provincial Reconstruction Team education specialist, talks to Afghan contractors Feb. 8 during a break at a conference in Ghazni City. The conference goal was to enhance cooperation between the PRT and local industry and clarify bidding procedures and legal requirements for PRT contracts. (Photo by Artur Weber, Task Force White Eagle Public Affairs)
Read the rest here.
Poland has been actively trying to support democracy and free elections in neighboring Belarus. Here are a few excerpts from this AP interview with Polish foreign minister Radoslaw Sikorski on the latest developments:
“Belarus is “Europe’s Cuba” and its people are yearning for freedom just like the tens of thousands who have taken to the streets in Tunis and Cairo, Poland’s foreign minister said Thursday.”
Poland has taken the lead on supporting the opposition in the widely-disputed December elections held in Belarus.
“Lukashenko claimed 80 percent of the vote but independent observers rejected the election as flawed. After polls closed, the government jailed hundreds of dissidents, including seven of the nine presidential candidates who had challenged Lukashenko.
Sikorski was interviewed by The Associated Press at his office a day after he hosted a donor conference that pledged $120 million from 40 countries to support democratic change in Belarus.
This week’s donor conference aimed to keep up support for the opposition, including financial support for the pro-democracy forces and the families of arrested dissidents, for independent media outlets and for education and youth exchanges for young Belarusians. As part of the $120 million, Poland alone pledged $14 million.”
Read the rest here.
According to Foreign Policy magazine’s article last month on the Komorowski-Obama meeting:
“Score one for Warsaw. President Barack Obama promised Polish President Bronislaw Komorowski on Wednesday that Poland would be admitted to the State Department’s visa waiver program, a concession to Poland that also fulfills a key GOP senator’s demand for his vote to ratify the New START treaty.”
Obama’s exact words were certainly the strongest commitment from any administration yet:
“‘I am going to make this a priority,’ Obama said, sitting alongside Komorowski. ‘And I want to solve this issue before very long. My expectation is, is that this problem will be solved during my presidency.'”
Currently Poles are still required to pay a fee and apply for a visa from the State Department to travel to the United States for any reason. Many much smaller countries (Estonia, Latvia, etc) have secured participation in the visa-waiver program allowing them to travel freely back and forth to the U.S. (to much Polish chagrin).