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.
As I mentioned before, I was at the Polish Embassy for the celebration of Polish Armed forces day on September 30. In his speech, Defense Minister Klich noted that the Poles also had cause to celebrate as their own General Mieczysław Bieniek was appointed the day before to the highest NATO post ever held by a Pole. Bieniek is now second-in-command at NATO headquarters in Norfolk, Virginia, known as Allied Command Transformation (ACT). More about General Bieniek can be found on his official NATO page.
This is the first four-star general position in NATO for Poland, and only five other countries hold posts at this level (America, Britain, France, Germany, Italy). Up until now the Poles have had only two-star positions.
From the signing ceremony September 29, 2010:
From right to left: Polish Army Lieutenant General Mieczyslaw Bieniek, French Air Force General Stephane Abrial, SACT; Italian Admiral Luciano Zappata. Photo by German Navy Senior Chief Petty Officer Thorsten Bohlmann
Read the full story at NATO’s ACT website here.
More on what ACT does here.