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Polish interests

2. Poland is an Example Again

in Crisis 2017 · EN · Europe 2017 · Germany 2017 · Nation 2017 · Polska 2017 · Skepticism 2017 223 views / 6 comments

 Germany   Europe         World          Polska

GEOMETR.IT        realclearworld.com


*Poland and its Arab Spring 

Combining Protest With Action

Finally, while the public mobilization of street protests has been impressive, Poland’s activists have also made sure to pair those protests with concrete actions. For example, when the government proposed a new abortion law that would subject women who terminate their pregnancies to a five-year prison sentence, women took to the streets to protest, but they also initiated a one-day work strike.

Clearly some progress has been made, but crucial elements are still missing. The first is unity. While the individual activist groups have been effective in their own way, there has been little effort to join forces in collective action.

Second, while the opposition forces in Poland have been somewhat successful in defending democratic institutions, they have mostly been on defense, reacting to government actions they see as unjust. To create sustainable change, they must go on offense.

Last and most important is to develop an affirmative vision for the future. In Poland, a devout Catholic country, PiS’s message of traditional values has resonance. What is the opposition’s vision of tomorrow? They have made clear what they are against, but what positive reforms can they propose?

In the past, membership in the European Union and NATO proved to be a powerful raison d’être for pro-democracy elements of Polish society. However, with the legitimacy of those institutions somewhat diminished by events in Hungary, Great Britain, and the United States, a new vision must be forged that captures the imagination of the Polish people.

This is not a uniquely Polish problem. In a number of Western countries today, democratic institutions are vulnerable to rising authoritarian sentiment amid political divisiveness and social disunity. Yet once again, Poland has the opportunity to pave the way. 

Srdja Popovic was one of the founders of the Serbian nonviolent resistance group Otpor! whose campaign against Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic was successful in October 2000 when thousands of protesters took over the Serbian Parliament.

He is executive director of the Centre for Applied Nonviolent Action and Strategies and author of Blueprint for Revolution. Greg Satell is an author, speaker and advisor. His first book, Mapping Innovation: A Playbook for Navigating a Disruptive Age, was selected as one of the best business books of 2017. Follow his blog at Digital Tonto or on twitter @DigitalTonto. The views expressed are the authors’ own.

*  The publication is not an editorial. It reflects solely the point of view and argumentation of the author. The publication is presented in the presentation. Start in the previous issue. The original is available at :http://realclearworld.com

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В 2018 году начинается Прошлое или Будущее? 20.12.2017

MOLDOVA и ЕврАзийский Союз1. ПОЛЬША и АННА КАРЕНИНА 20.12.2017



Wyzwania kampanii wyborczej w Rosji  20.12.2017

Moldova-Türkei: neue beste Freunde  20.12.2017

Poland is an Example Again 20.12.2017


1. Poland is an Example Again

in Crisis 2017 · EN · Europe 2017 · Germany 2017 · Nation 2017 · Polska 2017 · Skepticism 2017 296 views / 8 comments

   Germany   Europe         World             Polska

GEOMETR.IT        realclearworld.com


*Poland and its Arab Spring

In a scene reminiscent of the Arab Spring, hundreds of Poles marched silently through Warsaw’s chilly October air to honor the sacrifice of Piotr Szczesny, who much like Mohamed Bouazizi in the events that led to revolution in Tunisia, set himself on fire to protest his government’s increasingly authoritarian bent. The demonstrations continued last month when protesters took to the streets once again to show their defiance against new legislation that according to the European Union will undermine the judiciary and weaken the rule of law.

When Poland’s Law and Justice Party, or PiS, took power in 2015, it moved quickly to undermine democratic institutions under the guise of “taking the country back” from international influence. In fact, what they’ve been doing is reshaping the country in their own nationalist image.

Since the fall of the Berlin wall, we have seen three waves of democracy movements.

The first swept through Eastern Bloc countries such as East Germany, the Visegrad countries, and the Baltics in the late 80s and early 90s. In the early years of this century a new wave, commonly known as the Color Revolutions, sprung up in Serbia, Georgia, and Ukraine. Most recently, the Arab Springspread across the authoritarian countries of the Middle East.

Today, however, we are seeing that same process move in reverse, and once again Poland sits at the epicenter of the movement. The painstaking work undertaken over the past quarter century to create a civil society with solid democratic institutions is now under siege from a populist movement that operates under the thin guise of what it calls traditional values.

It is, in effect, a new transition — and a worrying one at that.

It is our hope that Poland can become a model once again and point the way to defeating authoritarianism and protecting civil society. In fact, activists in the country have already made some important strides in that direction. To date, these efforts still fall short and must be expanded and strengthened in order to create sustainable change.

More specifically, we can point to four positive steps the opposition movement in Poland has taken:

  1. Mobilization of Civil Society Outside the Political Process:Almost as soon as PiS assumed power, civil activists began to organize efforts to protect democratic institutions. The first, the Committee for the Defence of Democracy, was organized to protest the new regime’s attempt to stack the Constitutional Court. Since then, others such as Citizens of the Polish Republicas well as various women’s and environmental groups have joined the fray.

These groups’ power stems from their lack of affiliation with any political party, which adds to their legitimacy in the current climate of mistrust. Another important element is their focus on specific issues in which the PiS government has taken unpopular stands. Finally, these groups are based on values — not personalities — that the majority of Poles support.

  1. Expanding the Battlefield

The second strategy that’s proven effective is the leveraging of institutions outside the reach of the PiS government. These include international bodies such as the European Union, as well as non-governmental organizations and business groups inside of Poland. For example, EU criticism of judicial legislation helped lead to President Andrzej Duda’s veto of two controversial new laws, while UNESCO urged an end to illegal logging activity in Bialowieza forest, a World Heritage site.
This, of course, is not a completely new strategy. Earlier movements such as Gandhi’s struggle for Indian independence and Nelson Mandela’s African National Congress also worked hard to sway international opinion. Still, because Poland relies on many international institutions for its prosperity and security, these forces can be brought to bear far more quickly and with greater effect.

  1. Defending Democratic Institutions

Another effective strategy of Poland’s opposition activists has been to focus their efforts on defending democratic institutions, which go to the heart of Poland’s identity as a modern nation. Positioning the “Law and Justice” party as undermining the legal infrastructure of the country has gained traction even with those who agree with many PiS policies.

Also, it should be noted, the role of democratic institutions is not to protect the majority, but the minority. So by choosing those institutions as a battleground Poland’s activists help to maintain and strengthen their freedom to protest.

* The publication is not an editorial. It reflects solely the point of view and argumentation of the author. The publication is presented in the presentation. Start in the previous issue. The original is available at :http://realclearworld.com

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РОССИИ — санкции, а ГЕРМАНИИ — пояс девственности!  19.12.2017


Толпа перемолотит всех, кто входит. Но уходя, — не плачь  19.12.2017


Anti-European Polish interests  19.12.2017

Vereinigte Staaten von Europa?  19.12.2017

Germany/USA: the lesser of two evils 19.12.2017

Die Türkei: Bindeglied zwischen zwei Welten  19.12.2017



Anti-European Polish interests

in Crisis 2017 · EN · Europe 2017 · Germany 2017 · Nation 2017 · Polska 2017 · Skepticism 2017 298 views / 7 comments

Germany   Europe      World     Polska

GEOMETR.IT      neweasterneurope.eu


Eastern Partnership and Polish interests 

In accordance with the interests of Poland, a critique of Nord Stream 2 was pushed through Euronest, the assembly gathering representatives of the European Parliament and the parliaments of the Eastern Partnership countries. It shows how the policy of structuralism in international relations can serve to defend the interests of individual states. Particularly in the face the threats deriving from the dominant influence of Russia and its foreign policy tool – Gazprom, in the Eastern Partnership area.

On October 31st the Euronest Committee on Energy Security adopted a report which was then put to vote at the assembly’s plenary session. The parties agreed that even though natural gas could be an important tool for energy transition, from the point of view of the European Union and the Eastern Partnership countries the construction of Nord Stream 2 would be inadvisable.

Point ten of the report warns that the Nord Stream 2 pipeline may “negatively impact the regional gas market and, in particular, will have a detrimental effect on Ukraine’s gas transmission system”. The authors of the document call on the European Union and its partners from the east not to participate in projects that are incompatible with the Energy Community Treaty. The document was adopted with 42 votes. Two voters abstained.

Against the interest of the West 

Based on the above example, it is possible to evaluate the limited but significant impact that multilateral bodies within the European Union can have on Eastern policy – in this case the Eastern energy policy. Thanks to them, the EU becomes a transmission belt for the interests of the member states. The limited character of these institutions is due to their multilateral nature and the need to seek compromise within them. However, in turn, the results of their activities have the mandate of all the members.

This is why the critique of Nord Stream 2 is another important contribution to the resistance to this project, which adds to the growing pile of complaints from Central and Eastern Europe, Scandinavia, and the US.

The document was adopted despite Germany’s membership in Euronest. The basis for its adoption was the contents of the Energy Community Treaty, which regulates the foreign dimension of the European Union’s energy policy and the provisions of which impose on Euronest member states like Ukraine the obligation to reform their gas and electricity sector. In return, however, these member states are provided with the legal and political protection and expert aid of the EU.

“The unanimous position of the Euronest sends a strong political signal from the region that is the most threatened by the Nord Stream 2 project.

The Eastern Partnership countries are under direct political, economic and military pressure from Russia, and the construction of Nord Stream 2 will only reinforce this situation,” said member of the European Parliament Jacek Saryusz-Wolski.

The construction of the gas pipeline would therefore contradict the basic assumptions of the European Union’s neighborhood policy, which aims to stabilise the EU’s direct neighborhood, in the best interest of all its member states. Consequently, Nord Stream 2 is a project that goes against the geopolitical interest of the entire European Union.

“We should hope that the provisions of the resolutions adopted by Euronest will be reflected in the declaration of the Eastern Partnership summit in Brussels at the end of November, because they would have more political weight in such form. And blocking the construction of Nord Stream 2 requires very strong political will and pressure, because the interests of the business sector of some Western European countries are at stake. But business interests should not dictate such a strategic decision for the future of the European Union and the Eastern Partnership countries,” Saryusz-Wolski said.

“Indeed the potential of the Eastern Partnership can be seen in its practical undertakings. It is important that in the report, which was adopted by a large majority and without any objections, we underlined the threat that the construction of Nord Stream 2 could pose to the energy markets in the region, and in particular for the Ukrainian transmission system. This shows that the Eastern Partnership can still speak with one voice in important matters,” said member of the European Parliament Andrzej Grzyb.

Not only Nord Stream 2 

“Since the last Eastern Partnership summit in Riga in 2015, the European Union and the Eastern Partnership countries have already achieved significant results – both political and economic,” says Dariusz Rosati, a member of the European Parliament. “These achievements include entering into force of the Association Agreements and visa-free regimes between the European Union on the one hand, and Moldova, Georgia and Ukraine on the other, initiating a new partnership and cooperation agreement with Armenia, as well as beginning negotiations on a new agreement between the EU and Azerbaijan. In addition, a European Union-Belarus Coordination Group was established, helping improve dialogue with Belarus.”

“The Eastern Partnership is torn by political tensions. Despite this, three association and trade agreements have been signed, and an ad hoc committee monitoring the progress of the implementation of association agreements was established within the Euronest. When working on my report on cooperation in the implementation of the Paris Agreement, we proved that despite the political situation, when it comes to specific issues or initiatives co-financed by the European Union, we can boast several successful achievements,”  Grzyb said.

“Currently, the most important word for the Eastern Partnership is the ‘implementation’ of already existing agreements. This is crucial, because before taking the next steps, citizens must notice that cooperation with the EU and within the Partnership brings them noticeable benefits,”stated Rosati.

If there is political will in the European Union to further develop these mechanisms in the future, their effectiveness will grow.

For the moment, such appetite seems absent. However, there is a certain correlation that we may observe. Crises in relations with Russia have always been followed by strengthening the common energy policy. The 2006 gas crisis in Ukraine brought the postulate to create the Energy Community. The 2009 crisis contributed to the adoption of the Third Energy Package, a legal umbrella against monopolies such as Gazprom. The war of 2014 helped to promote the Polish concept of the Energy Union.

Translated by Aleksandra Małecka

The publication of this text was co-financed with a grant by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Poland within the framework of Public Diplomacy 2017 – II component Eastern dimension of Polish foreign policy 2017 and in partnership with Eastbook.eu. The publication expresses the views of the author only and should not be identified with the official position of the Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs.


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