Bonobo, if I read correctly the wiki citation says that little more than half of the Poles (56 percent) compared to exactly half of the Russians, half of teh Ukrainians, but also 72% of some tribe in India etc. etc. share R1a haplogroup. IMO it is not enough to say that "Genetic pool of Russians and Poles is very similar, we share more than with Germans and West Europeans." What about the 100 minus 56 = 44 percent of Poles which don't have this haplotype. What about almost half the Germans in the Easter Lands (46 percent if I remember correctly) which have this very same haplotype.
but what it definitely says is that we didn't get spoiled by either anglo-saxons nor the romans.. they just couldn't handle us barbarians.
well Loco, you are right of course!
But we know it from elsewhere not from the haplotype distribution!!!
I don't claim anything. I only posted some information about a broadcast I was listening to.
No. As a smart Varsavian, you were planning to administer another trick. I know you. Luckily, I stopped you just in time. ;D ;D ;D
You may of course write the whole new history, but shouldn't you inform the readers first it is your history version? ;D ;D ;D ;D
Tufta, I thought you have already realised that everything what I am writing here in this forum is MY version. Also about history. ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D Didn`t you notice it in other threads?? ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D E.g., in If We Joined Nazis, Warsaw Rising... and other? ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D
And that is quite correct. History is one but ways of intepreting it - multiple. ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D Probably as many as people who deal with historical issues.
And that is the aim of such a forum. It allows people of different views to present them. Others, who prefer to just watch or know nothing about the matter discussed, may choose what they deem more credible.
The historians were just pair of young bright guys, freshly after their Ph.D.'s in history. And the host is Dariusz Bugajski. I like his balanced approach to reality very much.
I don`t know Bugajski but when I hear the expressions "young" and "bright" and "historian", I immediately get images of young wolves who will tear you apart in order to get their 5 minutes` fame. To be honest, I prefer to stay away from young historians, especially if they are affiliated with PiS. ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D There were too many scandals arising from young historians` "historic" research recently.
Bonobo, if I read correctly the wiki citation says that little more than half of the Poles (56 percent) compared to exactly half of the Russians, half of teh Ukrainians, but also 72% of some tribe in India etc. etc. share R1a haplogroup. IMO it is not enough to say that "Genetic pool of Russians and Poles is very similar, we share more than with Germans and West Europeans." What about the 100 minus 56 = 44 percent of Poles which don't have this haplotype.
Hmm, I am not good at maths but 50% of something is quite a large quantity to me. ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D In my class 50% gives you 3- and you pass. Do you know how many students are happy to get 50% at my tests?
What about almost half the Germans in the Easter Lands (46 percent if I remember correctly) which have this very same haplotype.
It means that East Germans have common roots with Slavic tribes which lived in the area. Some traces of that population are still present there.
Sorbs (Upper Sorbian: Serbja; Lower Sorbian: Serby) also known as Wends, Lusatian Sorbs or Lusatian Serbs, are a Slavic people settled in Lusatia, a region on the territory of Germany and Poland.
How far Slavs reached
Today`s Slavs in Germany
During the 6th century A.D., Sorbs arrived in the area extending between the Bober, Kwisa and Oder rivers to the East and the Saale and Elbe rivers to the West. In the North, the area of their settlement reached Berlin. In 631 A.D., for the first time, the Fredegar’s Chronicle described them as Surbi. Annales Regni Francorum mention that in 806 A.D., Miliduch (the Sorbian King) fought against the Francs and was killed. In 932 Henry I conquered Lusatia and Milsko. In 933 Lusatia was again conquered by Gero II – the Margrave of the Saxon Ostmark, who in 939 treacherously murdered 30 Sorbian princes during the feast. As a result, there were many Sorbian uprisings against the Germans. From this early period there remains only a reconstructed castle —Raddusch in Lower Lusatia. During the reign of Boleslaw I of Poland in 1002-1018, three Polish-German wars were waged which caused Lusatia to come under the domination of new rulers. In 1018, on the strength of peace in Bautzen, Lusatia became a part of Poland; however, before 1031 it was returned to Germany.
Bo, thank you for your traditional Warsawward compliment. But please notice that whenever a trick is being played in Warsaw the Krakowians are well informed ;D ;D ;D ;D This was not a trick however. I am not pushing any theory on Russian or Ukrainian origin. I am collecting them. And I don't understand why are you so mad (rre you?? ;D ) at some young, and bright historians you don't know. And most of all what has PIS is common with that? Bonobo, what is happeninhg to you - are you so ennerved because Zbigniew won in Krakow?? ;D
Tufta, I thought you have already realised that everything what I am writing here in this forum is MY version. Also about history. ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D
If it is clear - then there's no problem at all. I only thought that some people less fluent in Polish history you are presenting some intepretation that is widely accepted and teached.
The haplogroups are a tricky business. One may get easily get into a trap trying to interpret all that stuff individually. And as you kniow the haplogroup fragmental results are great stuff for political use by the loonies of all kinds. Especially since there are many of them (both haplogroups and the loonies). But okey, perhaps I get into too much detail while generally I quite agree with you. I would only add that Poles share the most genetic markers with Ukrainians and Belarusins. They also share much with Russians (historical, European) in a degree similar to Lithuanians and Latvians, and the rest of Slavs. They share only very slightly less with Germans from easten Germany. Well its all very much mixed here really.
Bo, thank you for your traditional Warsawward compliment.
But please notice that whenever a trick is being played in Warsaw the Krakowians are well informed ;D ;D ;D ;D
Because the River Wisła is an excellent route to carry messages???
I am not pushing any theory on Russian or Ukrainian origin. I am collecting them.
Yesterday I saw fragments of Predator and he (it) also had a nice collection. ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D
And I don't understand why are you so mad (rre you?? ;D ) at some young, and bright historians you don't know. And most of all what has PIS is common with that?
Because young historians are usually close to PiS. ;D ;D ;D ;D
Bonobo, what is happeninhg to you - are you so ennerved because Zbigniew won in Krakow?? ;D
;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D Did he? I thought he lost. ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D
If it is clear - then there's no problem at all. I only thought that some people less fluent in Polish history you are presenting some intepretation that is widely accepted and teached.
I am just doing that - presenting a widely accepted and taught version. ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D You must admit that the version about modern Russians or Ukrainians having right to trace their political and state roots to Kiev Rus IS widely accepted, especially in Russia and Ukraine? ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D
I am just doing that - presenting a widely accepted and taught version. ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D
No, sometimes you are not. And you have boldly accepted that in a previous post that just as anyone you are entitled to your own opinions and you have kindly instructed me that these is what the forum is. I agree!
You must admit that the version about modern Russians or Ukrainians having right to trace their political and state roots to Kiev Rus IS widely accepted, especially in Russia and Ukraine? ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D
I did not comment Ukrainian or any other country historical policy. I gave reported the broadcast. I have nothing against tracing the state roots of any state to any other predeccessor, unless it makes historical sense, and in a sensible degree and manner. However I am against using such 'tracing' in and offensive manner. The Russians did that on many occasions ,towards Ukrainians and other states. Very recently - and on a different subject, 'Russians historian; was claiming that it is Poland who virtually started the WWII. Also - Russian historians are famous for claiming that it was Poland who is guilty of the 18 century's partitions done on her - that the partitions were justified. Exactly as the murderer would claim the murder was justified because it was possible. And many other c***.
I am just doing that - presenting a widely accepted and taught version. ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D
No, sometimes you are not.
Yes, sometimes I am not. But we are talking about Kiev Rus now and that is what I meant - presenting a widely accepted version that today`s Ukrainians and Russians derive their roots from it.
And you have boldly accepted that in a previous post that just as anyone you are entitled to your own opinions and you have kindly instructed me that these is what the forum is. I agree!
I did not comment Ukrainian or any other country historical policy. I gave reported the broadcast.
Tufta, there are hundreds of programs on Polish TV and radio every day. If you mention one programe out of hundreds and say what it was about, it does sound like your opinion. Your readers start wondering: why did he mention this programe at all? What does he want to say? He probably agrees ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D
I have nothing against tracing the state roots of any state to any other predeccessor, unless it makes historical sense, and in a sensible degree and manner.
Good. ;D ;D ;D ;D
However I am against using such 'tracing' in and offensive manner. The Russians did that on many occasions ,towards Ukrainians and other states.
Also about Kiev Rus?
Also - Russian historians are famous for claiming that it was Poland who is guilty of the 18 century's partitions done on her - that the partitions were justified. Exactly as the murderer would claim the murder was justified because it was possible.
Partitions were good for some state institutions. Do you know how much tax occupants managed to collect from Polish gentry? Millions. In one year more than during 50 years before. ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D
Poland won't react to Russian TV "taunts," prime minister says By DPA Aug 25, 2009
Warsaw - Poland shouldn't comment on the 'unwise and unjust' statements by Russian media about Poland's role in World War II, Prime Minister Donald Tusk said Tuesday.
Tusk's statement came after Vesti, a Russian state television station, showed a documentary alleging that the 1934 non-aggression pact between Poland and Nazi Germany contained a plan to invade the Soviet Union and Japan.
'It would be bad if in Poland the prime minister and ministers reacted to these types of taunts,' Tusk said Tuesday, a week ahead of a visit by Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin. 'If there will be a stance or opinion from the Russian government that's not in agreement with the truth, or with our impressions, the government will certainly react.'
Tusk added that - thanks to efforts by the Polish government - it's 'very likely' that Polish commentators and historians will soon appear on Vesti so the country's voice 'will be heard also in Russia.'
Putin is slated to visit Poland on September 1 for ceremonies marking the 70th anniversary of the outbreak of World War II.
Tensions between the Kremlin and Warsaw recently rose over a proposed US missile shield to be built on Polish soil. Russia says the shield targets its nuclear arsenal, despite American assurances that it is meant for protection against Iran.
Russian diplomats have also spoken out against the European Union's Eastern Partnership - a Polish-Swedish initiative to strengthen EU ties with six former Soviet states.
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Moscow to declassify “Poland’s 1939 war plans” thenews.pl Tuesday, August 25 2009
The Russian Foreign Intelligence Service (SWR) is to declassify documents on Poland's allegedly aggressive intentions towards the Soviet Union in the run up to WW II.
The documents will be published as part of a glossy brochure entitled The Secrets of Polish politics. 1939-1945, which, according to the Ria Novosti press agency, will be published on August 31.
"The declassified documents will help historians, politicians and the public in general to find answers to the questions: Could the problem of collective security find its solution before the Wehrmacht invaded Poland? Why did that not happen? And what prevented political leaders from taking the necessary measures to form the anti-Hitler coalition?" said Sergei Ivanov, head of the press bureau of the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service.
The brochure - written by retired general Lev Sotskov - will include analysis of Warsaw's internal and external policy as well as military reports from in the interwar period plus telegrams of Polish diplomatic missions abroad.
Ivanov told Ria Novosti that the information contained in the files, “will provide answers to many questions which are so essential these days, when many politicians and leaders try to reinterpret the events of WW II”.
On Sunday, Russian state TV aired a documentary claiming that the Soviet Union was forced to sign the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact in August 1939 in fear that an alliance of Nazi Germany, Japan and Poland was preparing to invade from west and east. The journalists who produced the documentary point to as yet unseen parts of the Polish-German non-aggression pact of 1934 as proof of their claims.
Poland strongly denied the allegations and has previously accused the Kremlin of a “Stalinist re-writing of history.”
The conflict comes just days before Prime Minister Vladimir Putin is expected in Poland to take part in the commemoration ceremony of the beginning of WW II on September 1.
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Mateusz Piskorski: Apologies for Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact are pointless RIA Novosti, Moscow 25/08/2009
On September 1, it will be 70 years since the start of World War II, which began with Nazi Germany's attack on Poland. Now many Polish politicians are accusing the U.S.S.R. of complicity in unleashing the war. The Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact is called the cause of all Polish misfortunes.
Should Russia apologize to Poland for this pact? Is the overtly anti-Russian tone of the Polish media an official line of the Polish Government? What about history textbooks? How can we go over from perpetual reflections and an incessant search for historical truth to the resolution of urgent economic issues?
Director of the European Center of Geopolitical Analysis Mateusz Piskorski answers these questions in an interview with RIA Novosti correspondent in Central and Eastern Europe Leonid Sviridov.
Question: The Polish press is carrying a lot of publications today accusing Russia of complicity in unleashing World War II. Is this just the typical anti-Russian tone of the Polish media, or the official line of the Polish Government?
Answer: This year is special for Poland in the context of recent history. I would like to note the following. On September 1, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin will finally visit Poland, for the first time in seven years. This means that Polish-Russian relations may be "defrosted." There are some overtly Russophobic forces in Poland. It is particularly important for those forces to worsen the atmosphere on the eve of the 70th anniversary of the start of WWII because the Russian prime minister is going to arrive in Gdansk.
Indeed, in the past few months, the press has carried many publications designed to evoke a sharp response from Russia. Once Russia responds, the authors of these publications will try to convince the Polish public that Moscow does not respect Poland's view, and ignores historical facts.
I would not attribute these publications to the official or unofficial line of Donald Tusk's Government. It is paying much less attention to what is called historical policy than the previous cabinet of Jaroslaw Kaczynski.
There are hardly any downright Russophobes among the members of the government, except for, maybe, Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski, whose position compels him to tone down his once emotional approach. You may remember that he called the North European gas pipeline along the bottom of the Baltic Sea (Nord Stream) the new Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact.
The part of the right-wing political spectrum, which wants the Poles to be scared by Russia, would like to see the atmosphere change for the worse on the eve of September 1. This group is strong enough and expresses its views in the Rzeczpospolita newspaper, and in the Wprost and Gazeta Polska weeklies. However, this does not mean that all Polish media are markedly anti-Russian.
Q: What do you think about the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact signed on August 23, 1939?
A: Any assessments of this pact should rely on the facts confirmed by the archives, just as an analysis of different scenarios for 1939. For Poland, this pact was unequivocally negative, although it would have sustained a much bigger loss of life if the entire territory of the Second Rzeczpospolita had been controlled by Nazi Germany.
Moreover, as Poles, we should remember that a year before we also cooperated with Berlin, although on an obviously smaller scale. Poland had taken part in the partition of Czechoslovakia, and later the Soviet Union took part in the partition of Poland. Both facts are negative morally but politics is not always moral.
(I agree that Poland's participation in the partitioning of Czechoslovakia with the Nazis...along with the virulent anti-Semitism of the pre-war years are some of the most shameful episodes in Polish history. Tom)
Since its formation, the Soviet Union was trying to break out of the isolation imposed on it by the West. Neither London, nor Paris evinced interest in Moscow's proposals in 1939. From the point of view of the U.S.S.R., under the circumstances, the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact was a good solution.
Q: Should Russia apologize to Poland for this pact?
A: It is my conviction that any apologies for political and diplomatic solutions made 70 years ago are pointless. Only those who signed the pact could apologize for it.
Today, any apologies could encourage the opponents of good Russian-Polish relations to further "exploits." They would immediately dismiss such apologies as too "weak." They would say that the Russian authorities have not fully recognized all their mistakes and should ask for repentance over and over again.
I think that instead of making apologies, it would be much more important to invite Polish historians to cooperation, and to make a joint publication on the pact and the circumstances of its conclusion.
Q: Many leading Polish politicians claim that Russian history textbooks deny the fact that WWII started on September 1, 1939. Are Polish politicians so incompetent, or is it the "political necessity of the day"?
A: Usually, this amounts to a media provocation. First, some Polish journalist finds "scandalous assertions" in some third-rate Russian publication after a long search, and writes an article, quoting them out of context. A Russophobic Polish politician reads this article and stages a big row. In turn, other media start spinning this spiral, and all politicians start expressing their views on this subject.
It would be naive to think that Polish politicians spend their free time reading Russian textbooks.
Q: How great are the differences in the assessment of historical facts between Russia and Poland?
A: Their views on the events of our common history will always differ substantially. We should bear in mind that in our part of Europe there were only two powers - Russia, which remains a power to this day, and Poland, which was a power in 1569-1648, and which repeatedly tried to retrieve this status later on.
Thus, history is very important for both Russians and Poles. They will always assess differently the events of 1920, the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, and the post-1945 period.
Historians usually see a horizon determined by their national self-identification . Therefore, few scholars are able to accept the rational arguments of their opponents, and to refrain from looking at history through the prism of their emotions, and often, the history of their own families.
But we need objective historians. That is exactly why we must set up bilateral groups of scholars, in which each side will try to understand the different views of the other.
Q: All too often Poland exploits historical facts for current domestic political purposes. What are the chances that the Polish government will finally leave history to historians and focus on the pragmatic resolution of economic issues?
A: I hope that this is exactly what will finally happen. In 2005-2007, Poland decided to pursue historical policy, that is, to subjugate historical science to current interests and political games. I believe that this attitude is not negative per se because sometimes historical self-identity and interpretation of events are important for national interests. However, this was harmful for Polish-Russian relations at a time, when groups with Russophobic views prevailed in the Polish government.
I believe, therefore, that Russia and Poland should joint hands and show our nations what brings us together and what united us historically. It is possible to find interesting positions, concepts and personalities even in the difficult relations of the 20th century.
Positive historical policy could become a foundation for good and even strategic contacts between our two countries.
Q: What should Moscow and Warsaw do to resolve historical problems?
A: They should start showing positive examples of cooperation. It is good that Russia has set up a presidential commission on countering attempts to falsify history to the detriment of Russia's interests. Its Chairman Sergei Naryshkin makes highly rational statements.
However, it would be good if in analyzing the activities of those who revise history, Russia would point to the common threats that are a consequence of attempts by many post-Soviet states to form national self-identity not only by discrediting Russia for no reason, but also by criticizing Poland.
This applies to the conduct of Ukrainian nationalists who, acting under the banner of Stepan Bandera, have gathered in the political camp around President Viktor Yushchenko. Latvian Waffen SS soldiers, who are now being applauded in Riga, killed not only Russians but also Poles in Wal Pomorski, where they burnt several dozen people alive in the village of Podgaj.
It will take a great deal of time and effort to change the consciousness of people and historical policy. This may be a task for research institutes, research centers and NGOs. However, it is important to realize that success in this effort can never be achieved without government support.
Conflict has broken out between Silesian groups after the one of them supported Russia’s accusations that Poland is falsifying history.
Russians are right when they say that Poland falsifies history for short-term objectives, claims the Association of Silesian People.
The statement, which has been criticized by other groups claiming to represent the Silesian minority in Poland, came in the wake of a Russian TV documentary alleging that Poland had a secret pact with Nazi Germany to invade the Soviet Union.
Sergey Naryshkin, the head of the Russian President’s Administration in Moscow declared that, “Falsifying history against Russia has become state policy in Poland.” Earlier, Russian television broadcast a documentary claiming Poland was closely cooperating with Nazi Germany against the Soviet Union in the run up to WW II.
“The Association of Silesian People wants to join this critique,” Andrzej Roczniok, an activist for the group told Polish Radio. According to him, Poles should honestly reflect on their past, especially policies towards minorities in the interwar period, the non-aggression treaty between Poland and Germany signed in 1934 as well as the partition of Czechoslovakia in 1938.
Silesia is an ethnic region mostly situated in south-western Poland but also with parts in the Czech Republic and Germany. Many Silesian activists declare the region has its own language and even constitutes nation, a stance strongly opposed by Warsaw.
“The Silesians suffered much more from the Poles than from any other nation,” Andrzej Roczniok declared.
But not all the Silesians think the same. A rival group, the Silesian Autonomy Movement, has said that taking the side of the Kremlin is a mistake.
“By taking the Russian side in the Moscow-Warsaw dispute, [the Association of Silesian People] play the role of useful idiots, allowing themselves to be involved in an infamous defence of the Stalinist regime,” says the Silesian Autonomy Movement.
The autonomy movement declares that though it will continue to criticize the way Polish historians have misrepresented Silesia n history, “Nothing can justify abusing the tragic history of Silesian in a Russian propaganda campaign aimed at Poland”.
In the past, the Silesian Autonomy Movement and the Association of Silesian Nationality People were working together. Later, however, the differences between the activists became to significant and led to a split.
When Thief Stole From Thief By MARK MEDISH The New York Times August 27, 2009
Vladimir Putin plans to be in Poland on Sept. 1 to mark the 70th anniversary of the start of World War II, a visit that could go a long way toward reducing renewed tensions over Europe's troubled history.
As the Polish prime minister, Donald Tusk, observed, the Russian prime minister's presence in Gdansk "would be a breakthrough in our evaluation and reevaluation of historical events."
Seventy years ago, as Nazi Germany was invading Poland, W.H. Auden famously wrote of being "uncertain and afraid as the clever hopes expire of a low dishonest decade."
Europe's descent into madness had been a long saga of balancing and double-crossing between the great powers — democracies and dictatorships alike.
One of the many "low dishonest" points on the path to war was the Nazi-Soviet Non-Aggression Pact signed in Moscow on the night of Aug. 23, 1939, by Hitler's foreign minister, Joachim von Ribberntrop, and Stalin's foreign minister, Vyacheslav Molotov. Nonaggression pacts were the common currency of foreign policy in those years. Poland even had one with Nazi Germany, signed in January 1934. The Moscow deal sealed Poland's fate by securing Soviet neutrality. Having reduced the risk of a two-front war, Hitler launched his blitzkrieg on Poland a week later, setting in motion the bloody horrors of the following six years in Europe.
The secret protocols of the Molotov-Ribbentrop deal came to light from the Nazi archives only after the war. It turned out that Hitler and Stalin had agreed to carve up Eastern Europe into spheres of influence. The land grab was evidently a necessary inducement to secure Stalin's neutrality.
The Soviet-German deal came after the failure of many months of Soviet talks with Britain and France. The Western leaders were evidently more wary of alliance with Stalin than of gambling on Hitler's intentions in the East.
During the 22-month Nazi-Soviet honeymoon, Poland was partitioned for the fourth time in its history. Stalin also grabbed the Baltics, Bessarabia and Bukovina and fought a disastrous war against Finland. Also at this time, the Nazis laid the foundations for the Holocaust, and Stalin's NKVD committed crimes such as the massacre of Polish officers in the Katyn forest.
The deal ended in the early hours of June 22, 1941, when Hitler double-crossed his ally and invaded the USSR, quickly capturing all the lands assigned to Stalin. There is an apt saying in Russian about honor among thieves: "the thief stole a hat from a thief."
In July of this year, the annual parliamentary meeting of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe adopted a resolution, proposed by a Lithuanian delegate, making Aug. 23 a day of remembrance for victims of both Stalinism and Nazism. Russian commentators promptly denounced the resolution as another "anti-Russian rewriting of history."
They did so despite the fact that the Soviet Union officially acknowledged the secret protocols in 1989, thanks largely to the last Soviet leader, Mikhail Gorbachev.
More recently, Soviet nostalgists have been irked by the moving of a Red Army memorial in Tallinn, Estonia in 2007 and by Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko's various favorable remarks about the Ukrainian Insurgent Army, which cooperated with the Nazis against Soviet forces.
In May Russian President Dmitri Medvedev announced the creation of a "Commission Against Efforts to Falsify History to Harm Russian Interests." The reference to "falsifiers" directly echoes Stalinist terminology. The Russian parliament also began to consider a law that would make it a crime "to belittle the Soviet victory" in World War II.
The speaker of Russia's upper house, Sergei Mironov, has been careful to explain that the proposed law focuses on "the results" of the war. He may remember what the Soviet dissident historian A.M. Nekrich wrote in 1965: "To tell of the last day of the war is a more rewarding task than to tell of the first day. The war, the greatest of tragedies, not only had a brilliant ending but a difficult beginning as well."
The best defense of the pact is probably that Stalin always knew the danger Hitler posed and was simply playing for time. Playing for time would have been a credible strategy — indeed, all the great powers were doing it. Yet Stalin was apparently genuinely surprised by the "Barbarossa" attack. It is likely he ignored numerous intelligence warnings precisely because he thought the deal would last.
Two wrongs do not make a right, but it is worth recalling that the Western democracies had already made their own peace with the devil at the20Munich conference in September 1938 — a deal denounced by the Soviets as a diabolical capitalist plot. This led to the dismemberment of Czechoslovakia — including at the hands of Poland — in another "low dishonest" milestone.
As Churchill observed, "The terrible words have for the time being been pronounced against the Western democracies: `Thou art weighed in the balance and found wanting.'"
According to the late Polish philosopher Leszek Kolakowski, "we learn history not in order to know how to behave or how to succeed, but to know who we are."
Understanding history — who we are — requires study and reflection. Still, grand political gestures can be important for the cause of truth and reconciliation. Whatever else can be said about the Nazi-Soviet anniversary, Mr. Putin's visit to Gdansk on Sept. 1 could help turn a new page.
Mark Medish is a visiting scholar at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
Russia looking for an enemy? thenews.pl 27.08.2009
Poland's newspapers write about the impending visit of Russia's prime minister, Vladimir Putin to Poland for the WW II anniversary ceremony in Poland on September 1.
We will ask Prime Minister Putin about Katyn "genocide", writes DZIENNIK.
The paper devotes its first three pages to discussing the recent Russian campaign of "historical slanders against Poland".
According to Russian media, Poland, the first country to be attacked in World War Two by Germans and Russians, was actually guilty for the war. Russia intends to publish a book written in cooperation with Russian secret services, saying that the Molotiv-Ribbentrop Pact was forced on the Soviets as they feared eastward expansion by Germany and Poland.
This publication is an element of "stupid historical politics" of Moscow, Sergey Buntman of a Russian radio station told the DZIENNIK daily.
Polish historians, however, are more concerned. Russia may be planning something much more dangerous than just slandering Poland in the run up to World War Two anniversary, they say. Russian Prime Minister Putin is expected to attend the ceremonies and Prime Minister Tusk will ask him about the Katyn=2 0genocide, a 1940 mass murder of Polish POWs by the Soviet NKVD, for decades silenced and negated by Russia, DZIENNIK reports.
Russian authorities lie to the people and are looking hard for an enemy, writes dissident Victor Suvorov, writer, historian and former military intelligence officer in the FAKT daily.
The Soviets cooperated with Nazi Germany, because they wanted the war to begin. They wanted a weaker Europe, easier for Soviets to conquer, argues Suvorov.
What Russia should do on the 70th anniversary is to bring and present documents about the Ribbentrop-Molotov pact, together with those on the Katyn genocide, and admit publicly, that the Soviet state attacked Poland and committed crimes on Poles, that all this was done by a criminal regime, with which today's Russia does not want to have anything in common.
However, this is not likely to happen. When Russia accuses Poland today of complicity in World War Two, these are not just stupid remarks, notes Suvorov. Russia is now in deep economic crisis and needs to create a public enemy in order to distract the nation's attention away from domestic problems. So they pick on Estonia, Georgia, now its time for Poland. In actual fact, the whole history of the Soviet Union and contemporary Russia is one big crime, claims Suvorov.
It is full of violence and aggression towards Russia's neighbors, he stresses. The average life span in Russia is 58 years, like in Africa. And at the same time, the ruling elites are filthy rich, while the crisis in the country is deepening. So the elites are trying to find a scapegoat for this situation, and this time Poland has been chosen for an enemy, writes Victor Suvorov in the FAKT daily.
Poles would like to see Russian regret over WWII - surveyDPA Aug 29, 2009
Warsaw - A large majority of Poles would like to hear words of regret from Russia about Soviet actions against Poland at the outbreak of World War Two, the daily Rzeczpospolita reported Saturday, citing the results of an opinion survey.
The survey by the polling institute GfK Polonia showed 76 per cent of Poles would like to hear Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin express regret about the Soviet invasion of eastern Poland on September 18, 1939.
Eighteen per cent of those surveyed did not wish for such an expression from Putin, while 6 per cent had no opinion.
Putin, a former Soviet KGB agent, is to attend the ceremonies in Gdansk on Tuesday marking the 70th anniversary of Nazi Germany's September 1, 1939 attack on Poland, launching World War II. Putin is also to speak on the occasion.
On August 23, 1939, Nazi Germany under dictator Adolf Hitler and the Soviets under dictator Josef Stalin agreed to a non-aggression pact, and in a secret additional protocol, they mapped out their future respective zones of influence in Central Europe.
Seventeen days after the Germans invaded Poland, the Soviet Red Army marched into eastern Poland, which Poles to this day consider to be an act of aggression, effectively wiping their country off the map as it was occupied by Germany and the Soviets.
In a related development, the Polish daily Gazeta Wyborcza has announced that it will be publishing a Putin essay on Monday. The contents of the essay are not yet known.
Deputy speaker of Poland's lower house, Stefan Niesiolowski, says that the Katyn massacre of 1940 was "not genocide", a statement which contradicts a UN convention, say some historians.
The remark came as the ruling Civic Platform and opposition Law and Justice parliamentary parties failed on Thursday to thrash out a joint-resolution regarding the Soviet invasion on 17 September 1939.
Stefan Niesiolowski, Civic Platform member and deputy speaker of the lower house, is coordinating the cooperative work on the resolution but holds controversial opinions on the Katyn Massacre, when over 20,000 Polish officers were murdered by Soviet NKVD officers.
"The murder of Polish officers at Katyn was not genocide," stated Niesiolowski. He added that, "there have only been two genocides in history: the Holocaust and the great [Stalin induced 1930s] famine in Ukraine."
Niesolowski' s off-the-cuff statement to the Dziennik newspaper contradicts a 1948 UN convention on genocide, Article 2 of which defines it as "Any [acts] committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group."
Historian Wojciech Rosztowski told Polish Radio that as the NKVD were ordered by Stalin to illuminate or "decapitate" a whole class of Poles – the officers at Katyn were made up of intelligentsia, land owners and other prominent members of society – then this, "clearly comes under the definition of genocide".
Poland has long pushed Russia to admit that the massacre was genocide, so allowing prosecutions of those involved to go ahead. In 2005, however, a Moscow court came to the conclusion that: "The version of genocide was examined, and it is my firm conviction that there is absolutely no basis to talk about this in judicial terms," said Chief Military Prosecutor Alexander Savenkov.
Law and Justice put forward a motion last week, calling for September 17 to be made a national holiday.
Civic Platform, Polish Peasant's Party and Democratic Left Alliance have all criticized the resolution proposed resolution, calling it provocative, anti-Russian, aggressive in tone and have refused to accept it in its present form.
Putin was irritated, surprised by Tusk speech Russian PM irked by Sept.1 speech of Polish counterpart The Warsaw Business Journal 14th September 2009
According to the Russian press agency Regnum, it was the speech by Prime Minister Donald Tusk and not President Lech Kaczyñski that irritated Russian PM Vladimir Putin.
The agency is quoting its sources, including Krzysztof Zanussi.
Regnum claims that Mr Kaczyñski's speech did not impress Putin, as he was expecting such words from the Polish President who, according to the report is "known for his Russian-phobia" .
According to the agency, however, he was outraged with the words of Donald Tusk who had previously said that it is his aim to improve relations with Russia. In the speech, Tusk stated that Soviet soldiers did not bring freedom to Poland.
"In Poland it was [hard] for me to talk about some issues, as I was a guest," said Vladimir Putin.
Mr Putin also stated late last week that one should reject anything related to the current politics, look into the future, and walk on.
Moscow warns Warsaw over Soviet invasion resolution thenews.pl 20.09.2009
The Russian Foreign Ministry says that Poland should not use events of 70 years ago to make contemporary political gestures and sour Polish-Russian relations.
"A resolution on the events of September 1939 [when Soviet forces invaded Poland] to be adopted by the Polish Parliament this week, cannot fail to evoke disillusionment, " says a spokesman of the Russian Foreign Ministry.
The draft of the resolution, approved by all parliamentary parties in Poland, refers to the Soviet aggression of Poland on 17 September 1939 and describes the Katyñ massacre of over 20,000 Polish officers in 1940 as `having the characteristics of genocide'.
Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Andrey Niestierienko told a press conference that the events of September 1939 were discussed in detail during Prime Minister Putin's visit to Gdansk on 1 September, adding that the stand of the Polish Parliament is divergent with the views presented by the Polish side three weeks ago.
According to the Russian official, the resolution is of a political character and its adoption would have a bearing on Polish-Russian relations, he said.
On Katyñ, he quoted the opinion of Professor Aleksandr Tchubarin, the Director of the Historical Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences, whereby the use of the word `genocide' in reference to the murder is `nonsense'.
`We hope that the Polish Parliament will re-think its stand and will adopt a more objective document, reflecting the spirit of the discussions in Gdañsk," Niestrenienko said.
Polish Church Elders Call For Russia to Be Forgiven 9/26/09
KATYN, Russia (Reuters) - A senior Polish bishop said Saturday Poland must forgive Russia for Soviet crimes in order to improve relations, speaking at a graveyard of more than 4,000 Polish officers killed by Josef Stalin's army in 1940.
Russia and Poland are at loggerheads over the actions of Soviet leader Stalin in 1939, when he clinched a non-aggression pact with Nazi Germany that opened the way for the invasion of Poland and world war.
"The fate of those killed is already in the hands of God," Tadeusz Ploski, a Catholic Polish army bishop, told a group of 250 prison guards visiting Katyn to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the start of War World Two.
"But ... the victims of Katyn will not rest in peace as long as the wrong done to them evokes dark feelings in us, as long as true reconciliation with the Russian nation is not our genuine priority."
Poland demands the opening of archives related to an investigation, carried out between 1990 and 2004, of the Katyn massacre, as well as an official rehabilitation of the victims.
Prime Ministers Vladimir Putin and Donald Tusk agreed during the September 1 ceremonies commemorating the anniversary of Nazi Germany's invasion of Poland to offer historians reciprocal access to their nations' archives and to set up joint groups of experts to study the Katyn case.
Archbishop Miron of the Polish Orthodox Church and Ryszard Borski, the head army pastor of Poland's Evangelical Church, also urged both sides to forgive each other.
Among the flat graves in a birch forest near the city of Smolensk, Miron spoke of "thousands of people, who died as a result of the hateful totalitarianism which did not differentiate between 'ours' and 'theirs.'"
Ploski told the crowd of uniformed men and women about a letter issued by Polish bishops to their German counterparts in 1965, which was criticised at the time but eventually proved important for restoring relations.
"A greatness of a nation is expressed through brave gestures, which build bridges of understanding with other nations," Ploski said. But he added that a call for forgiveness by Poland might be an unpopular idea.
Polish Justice Minister Andrzej Czuma, who headed Saturday's delegation to Katyn, said it was important to remember that, in terms of those killed, Russia was the biggest victim of the "satanic ideology" of communism.
For Maria Demyanova, who has worked at the Katyn museum gift shop for almost a decade, the political hostility between the two nations remains a puzzle.
"I see it on TV. I see it on both sides. Why, I ask, why?" Demyanova said. "Here in Katyn, nobody argues."
Wprost writes that it has seen documents which show that troop exercises near Poland’s border in September portrayed Poland as "a potential aggressor."
The magazine also claims that 30,000 Russian troops practiced not only defensive manoeuvres: they also rehearsed landings on the beaches of Kaliningrad - a Russian controlled corridor linking it with the Baltic Sea - which was used to simulate Poland’s northern coast.
Russian aircraft also practiced the use of nuclear weapons in the attacks, says the magazine.
Law and Justice MP Karol Karski is to table parliamentary questions on Russia’s war games and has protested to the European Commission.
Another Law and Justice MP, Marek Opiola, told the TVN 24 news station that: “Do not forget that this happened on the 70th anniversary of the invasion of Poland by Soviet troops.”
Editor of the monthly Raport magazine, Tomasz Hypki, said, however: “There is nothing unusual in this. The Russians were simply testing equipment. The Americans do the same.”
Poland, Russia and Katyn’s ’bitter truth’ 07.04.2010 16:04
Prime ministers Tusk and Putin at today’s Katyn ceremony. Photo - East News Vladimir Putin and Poland’s prime minister Donald Tusk, took part in a unique joint ceremony today to commemorate the deaths of thousands of Polish officers in the 1940 Katyn massacre during WW II. “We are here connected to a shared memory and shame,” said Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, speaking at the fork in the road between the Polish and Russian parts of the Katyn Memorial at a ceremony dedicated to 70th anniversary of the massacre. PM Donald Tusk hoped the ceremony could be the start to reconciling a conflict over the massacre which has blighted Russian-Polish relations for decades. “On this road to reconciliation, we set two signposts: to memory and to truth. If this is so then in the future I think that this will be the greatest victory yet by the soldiers of Katyn,” he said. The ceremony commemorated up to 22,000 Polish prisoners of war who were killed, on Stalin’s orders, by the NKVD, the forerunner to the KGP in the Soviet Union. The ceremony was also in honour the millions who died in the Stalinist purges of the 1930s. “Buried in this land are citizens of Russia, who were destroyed during the Great Purge” Putin said at the solemn ceremony attended by former Solidarity leader Lech Walesa and heads of Roman Catholic, Jewish, Muslim and Orthodox churches in Poland and Russia. “We remember Polish citizens who were killed on Stalin's orders and those who perished at the hands of the Nazis in the Great Patriotic War,” Putin said. “We are committed to preserve the memory of the past and we will do it, no matter how bitter the truth,” he continued. The Polish delegation was at the ceremony on the invitation of PM Putin, in what was hoped to be a reconciliation of the decades old conflict over Katyn between Poland and Russia. When Nazi troops discovered remains of some of those murdered in Katyn forest, the Soviets claimed that it was the Germans who killed the men. It was only after the fall of the Soviet Union that the then president, Boris Yeltsin admitted that it was the Stalinist NKVD who were responsible and promised an investigation and full disclosure of the relevant documents. Since then Poland has accused Moscow of refusing to release archives and demanded that the atrocity be termed “genocide”, something that the Kremlin has refused to do.
Lies and violence
Alluding to the lack of clarity which has surrounded the massacre in the 1940, Prime Minister Donald Tusk, when addressing those who had gathered for the ceremony, Wednesday, recalled the words of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn: “Let us not forget that violence does not live alone and is not capable of living alone: it is necessarily interwoven with falsehood. Between them lies the most intimate, the most deepest of natural bonds.” “I want to believe that a word of truth can bring together two great nations, which have been painfully separated by history,” Tusk continued, re-phrasing a Russian saying that a word of truth can bring the whole world together. “Katyn was a myth, a deceitful myth which laid at the foundation of a communist country. But those who wanted to build post-war Poland on the basis of that myth were defeated by the truth, passed on from one Pole to another through generations. Even when the truth about Katyn was kept in secret and whispered, we knew that it will someday surface.” “Poles always believed that truth about Katyn is the best weapon against violence”. “We are on the way to reconciliation. We need to find courage and strength in order to open that chapter of our history. We want the path to reconciliation to be as straight and short as possible,” Poland’s prime minister concluded. Religious leaders also spoke at the ceremony and said prayers to the fallen. Head of the Polish Orthodox Church, Archbishop Sawa "Brothers and sisters who lie here - we declare that your supreme sacrifice was not in vain, your spilt blood bore fruit,” said leader of the Polish Orthodox Church, Archbishop Sawa.
Archbishop Sawa was followed by representatives of the Christian, Jewish and Muslim denominations.
The officials also laid the cornerstone of a Russian Orthodox church to be located at the site of the murders.
The Polish delegation also included Polish war veterans and historians, accompanied by a 100-strong group of Polish community members from across Russia.
We falsified Katyn history, says Medvedev 07.05.2010 10:10
Russia’s president, Dmitry Medvedev has said that the 1940 Katyn massacre was a dark period in Russian history and is an issue that has not been dealt with honestly by the Kremlin, until now.
President Dmitry Medvedev told the Izvestia daily that the truth about the killing of over 20,000 Polish officers by the NKVD has not been commonly accepted in Russia.
“The subject has so far been presented from a totally false point of view (…) It is an example of the falsification of history. (…) We, Russians, have done that. The truth [about Katyn] should be revealed to both our people and foreign citizens who are interested in it,” Medvedev told the Russian daily.
Russia’s president also said that there is only one word to describe the Soviet regime at time – totalitarian. “Unfortunately, it was a regime which suppressed basic human rights and liberties. Not only our people experienced it. The same happened in other socialist countries. It cannot be expunged from the history,” said Medvedev.
“If we turn a blind eye to the crimes, they may happen again in the future. (…) These crimes have no expiry date and those who committed them should be punished, no matter how old they are. It is our moral responsibility towards next generations [to impose punishment],” said Russia’s head of state.
Kaczynski thanks Russians for 'every tear shed...' 10.05.2010 09:35
Jaroslaw Kaczynski, the brother of the late president Lech and himself currently a presidential hopeful, has started off his campaign run with a video message… to the Russians.
The video was released at a press conference which was not attended by Jaroslaw Kaczynski himself, however. The release of the video coincided with the VE parades in Moscow, where Jaroslaw Kaczynski's brother, Lech, was due to attend.
“The reaction of feelings and sympathy of millions of Russians has been acknowledged and felt by Poles. Thank you for every tear shed, every candle lit, for every word of comfort,” Kaczynski says in the video address.
Jaroslaw Kaczynski’s speech also turned towards the role of history, and that both Poland and Russia should reconcile their differences by acknowledging the truth, as “only truth may help in building the new,” he states in the video.
“There are moments in history which manage to change everything, even the course of history,” Jaroslaw Kaczysnki continued, relating to the tragic events on 10 April in which his brother died near Smolensk.
“I hope, as well as millions of Poles, including those, who supported Lech Kaczynski, that this moment is upon us, and that a great change will take place, for us, our children, and our grandchildren,” underlined the Law and Justice presidential candidate.
Even though the message was advertised as being a personal address to the Russians, it is a component of Mr. Kaczysnki’s presidential campaign. Law and Justice (PiS) deputy Elzbieta Jakubiak told journalists that “we are in the midst of a campaign, that’s why the
Comments Alex 10/05/2010 15:19:18 Very powerful and moving words and images... It's easy to translate Polish into Russian because those two cultures and languages are on the same emotional wave. Yuri 10/05/2010 15:54:40 Alex, wouldn't the saints of the Russian Orthodox Church say to beware of emotional waves -- that they are deceptive? Russian 10/05/2010 15:57:27 Powerful stuff. Also, I can't believe how similar our languages are! With the guidance of subtitles, I felt like Jaroslaw spoke Russian, his final words were sound for sound identical in Polish and Russian - "для нас, для наших детей, для наших внуков" - "for us, for our children, for our grandchildren"!
I hope it is not what most Easterners think. If it was, it would mean they know nothing about history. The fact is that a few hundred thousand Poles died in Soviet Union before, during and after WW2.
Vladomir K. 29/05/2010 16:12:17 To Ursula: "Russia does not need to apologize for Katyn, because there were 15 Soviet republics that time when the massacre happened. It means that all of them should bring apologies, but not Russia alone." But on the other hand, Poland alone should bring apologies to Russia, Belarus and Ukraine for mass killings of their citizens in 20s and 30s. Much more people from these three states had been killed than in Katyn!
Chief of Staff of the Russian armed forces, General Nikolai Makarov starts a two-day working visit to Poland, Tuesday.
The trip is mainly devoted to Polish-Russian military cooperation now and in the future, and international security issues. In Warsaw, General Makarov, who also acts as Russia’s first deputy Defence Minister, will meet with Polish Chief of Staff, General Mieczysław Cieniuch.
He will also travel to Kraków, where he is to visit the 16 airborne battalion.
While in Warsaw, the Russian delegation is laying wreaths at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, at the Cemetery-Mausoleum of Red Army Soldiers, and will also honour the memory of General Franciszek Gągor, Poland’s Chief of Staff killed in the Smolensk air crash.
Polish fire fighters end Russian mission 22.08.2010 08:26
A group of 159 fire fighters from the Suwalki region returned home from their mission in the Russian district of Ryazan on Saturday.
For the past two weeks the Poles had assisted local brigades in putting out the gigantic forest fires that have been ravaging large areas and destroying entire villages with the blaze even spreading to suburban towns of Moscow.
National Fire Service Chief, Wieslaw Lesniakiewicz has given top marks to the men engaged in the Russian mission, underscoring their dedication and help extended to the residents of the fire stricken regions. He also remarked that the experience gained will pay off should similar circumstances demand rescue such large scale operations in Poland.
Chief Lesniewski drew attention to the fact that the present forest fires in Russia embraced a territory ten times bigger than during the tragic fire near Kuznia Raciborska, in Poland’s southern Silesia province, in 1992.
It is interesting to see how Poland will make alliances in the future. I actually hope Poland will not be too cozy with the East or West, Neutral and independent is my genuine wish. We shall see.
Uncletim, I may be wrong in my predictions of course, but from what I feel nothings going change here much. US and EU. Neutrality is impossible on North European Plain ;D
Guys, the balance of Polish Russian affairs is achieved by the tug-of-war between staunch anti-Russian nationalists and conciliatory forgiving good-natured people.
Poles waste chance for Polish-Russian reconciliation, says Moscow press 19.08.2010 12:42
Moscow daily Izvestia comments on the protest last weekend against the unveiling of a monument to Soviet Red Army soldiers who died in the 1920 Battle of Warsaw.
“Disgrace in Ossow” headlines the Russian newspaper and describes the protest staged by residents of the town near Warsaw at the monument of 22 Soviet Red Army soldiers who died in the 1920 battle and were buried in the town.
The daily reminds that 25,000 Soviet soldiers died in the battle which defeated Trotsky‘s Red Army spreading the Bolshevik revolution to western Europe.
On Sunday, local protestors chanted “shame” before a planned ceremony to unveil a monument to the fallen Red Army soldiers, claiming that it was showing “contempt for Poles” where “fathers and grandfathers died”. Because of the protest the ceremony was postponed to a later date.
“A beautiful gesture,” writes Izvestia sarcastically, adding that the protest in Ossow is the “younger sister” of the “disgraceful demonstrations” in front of the Presidential Palace in Warsaw, which the paper sees as anti-Russian demonstrations.
The paper says that the protests, both at Ossow and Warsaw are a snub to Russian efforts to ease historical tensions between Warsaw and Moscow.
Poland on fire! Don`t allow Russian and German governors take over!
published in the biggest Polish daily 'Gazeta Wyborcza'.
Poland and Russia. Time for change.
Adam Daniel Rotfeld
We have a unique opportunity of co-writing the West’s strategy towards Russia in line with our national interests. But first we need to discard the complexes that overshadow our debate on Russia.
On May 1 1942 an eminent diplomat delivered a lecture at the Association of Polish Lawyers in New York titled “Poland and Russia in a free Europe”. At that time Germany was not only occupying Paris and Warsaw but also Minsk, Kiev and much of Russia. The speaker said:
“The attitude of Poles to our Western neighbor is homogenous (…). But our attitude to Russia is different, more complex. It is high time for Poles to seriously reflect on that attitude, to start thinking about the matter without anger, without prejudice (…), without any imposed preconceptions. We not only have to consider the tactics we should use in our daily talks and negotiations with Russia, in our daily though exceptionally important and serious matters. First and foremost, we need to think about elaborating a general Polish-Russian concept in post-war Europe.”
Those words were uttered by Anatol Mühlstein, previously minister plenipotentiary and deputy to the Polish ambassador in Paris - a man who enjoyed Józef Piłsudski’s unconditional trust and performed difficult, extraordinary missions for him. But on that occasion Mühlstein was no longer acting in any official capacity. He said what he considered right and he took personal responsibility for it.
I am tempted to quote the lecture in full because Mühlstein’s opinions have lost none of their weight. Take the simple assertion that thinking has a future:
“It is of utmost importance to keep thinking,” he said, “to create lasting concepts that are not so much a program of political action but an elaboration of the goals that our country pursues and which diplomacy, as an executive instrument, should implement. Professional diplomats usually refer with certain irony to general political concepts (…). Though I have dedicated my entire life to practical diplomatic work, I beg to differ (…). Wherever there is no general concept in national history, in national interests, no firmly established political concept, political practice is always hobbled”.
Aleksander Skrzyński, the pre-eminent Polish foreign minister of the interwar period, wrote that Poland had not perished due to an inadequacy of its army or treasury, but precisely due to a lack of foreign policy. Almost seventy years have passed since the time when one of the outstanding Polish diplomats of the inter-war period uttered those words.
Twenty years have elapsed since the end of the Cold War, as much as history had set aside for the entire inter-war period. Today, many ask: what is Poland’s strategy towards Russia and what should it be in the second decade of the 21st century? I intentionally introduce a ten-year time limit here, since Europe and Poland are experiencing a period of accelerated changes.
Today, Russia, Europe and America, the whole Transatlantic area and the rest of the world find themselves as a crossroads. There is no shortage of those who advocate preserving the status quo. And then there are theoreticians and practitioners who believe it would be most desirable to have international relations that are modeled on Metternich’s 19th century concept - a concert of European powers - since that policy had ensured peace and stability for several generations.
The American analyst John Mearsheirmer was the first to formulate the thesis about a return to the past as a postulate for the future. That was after the collapse of the Berlin Wall. His essay “Back to the Future: Instability in Europe after the Cold War” is today treated by many as a prophetic vision.
The most recent illustration that Mearsheimer’s postulate still constitutes a guideline for practical action is an article headlined “Getting Russia Right”, published almost a month ago by two former (though still influential) German politicians, Wolfgang Ischinger and Ulrich Weisser (“Getting Russia Right”, New York Times, June 9 2010). They critically evaluated the report “NATO 2020”, prepared by a group of independent experts led by Madeleine Albright. They claimed that the main flaw and shortcoming of the report consisted in its lack of courage and improper treatment of Russia.
Ischinger and Weisser wrote that the report had fallen short of expectations: “Regrettably, fundamental differences between some new members in Eastern Europe and those in Western Europe about how to deal with Russia have not been overcome. The expert group attempts to bridge the differences by proposing to reach out to Russia, but under the condition that any constructive engagement would have to be based on military reassurances within NATO. This means that defense planning activities – against Russia – would continue to be on the alliance agenda”.
These two authoritative and well-informed former politicians postulate a different kind of approach to Russia. It is to focus on building a common missile defense system, on joint Russia-EU and Russia-Germany projects. Issues relating to conventional and nuclear arms control and disarmament are to form another area of collaboration. Interestingly, as regards the key Russian project of building a new security architecture, they postulate that the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe and the “Corfu process” - seemingly, a natural platform for such debate - be rejected, since it would probably lead to a dead end. Instead, they propose to “animate the classic contact group format”, i.e. meetings of the foreign ministers of the US, Russia, the United Kingdom, Germany, Italy - “maybe including Poland plus the EU and NATO”. However, they prefer a smaller format, composed of three foreign ministers (US, Russia and the EU) plus the NATO secretary-general.
That German voice reflects a quite frequent nostalgia today for seeking solutions within a group of a handful of powers that would make decisions on matters affecting the whole Transatlantic community. Powers, by their very nature, prefer such a mode of decision-making to painstaking negotiations among the 28 NATO members or the 27 Union states. If that approach were to dominate as regards the elaboration of the West’s strategy on Russia, then Poland must be present in the group of states preparing new instruments for the engagement of Russia in matters of Transatlantic security.
The matter is evoking lively interest, both in diplomatic conference rooms in Europe and America and among independent analysts and thinkers. The Euro-Atlantic Security Initiative, established under the auspices of the Carnegie Endowment, is a multilateral commission co-chaired by Sam Nunn (USA), Igor Ivanov (Russia) and Wolfgang Ischinger. It includes almost twenty former prime ministers, foreign ministers, defense ministers, intelligence chiefs and others from many European states, Russia and the US. The commission’s works are likely to impact the elaboration of the strategy of mutual relations between Russia and the West.
The line of thinking that dominates in the debate on future relations with Russia finds reflection in the premier world journals devoted to security issues and foreign policy, including the American “Foreign Affairs’ and the London “Survival”. They have published a number of serious analyses, the theses of which are convergent: in modern history, the most advantageous and durable solutions were those that offered former adversaries an opportunity to join in shaping the post-war order based on an accord of the great powers. That was the case after the Napoleonic wars in the 19th century and after World War II, when the Western democratic powers effectively included defeated Germany and Japan in the new security system. Now, twenty years after the Cold War, it is time for Russia.
Two directors of the Carnegie Center in Moscow, Samuel A. Greene and Dmitri Trenin, recently argued in a joint essay that the era of uncertainty requires the engagement of Russia. The West and Russia need each other. Russia’s turn towards the West is a matter of existential importance to the former. That is determined by:
* rising costs of economic activity and of political ambiguity, uncertainty and instability; * the risk of falling further behind and remaining on the margins of world development; * an urgent need to obtain Western investment capital and modern technologies, which necessitates institutional rather than personal guarantees in the top echelons of government; * recognition of the need to combat legal nihilism, respect the law, build a pluralistic civil society and to conduct an internal democratization as an essential condition of a Western-type modernization.
The changes in Russia are being imposed in conditions of globalization by the economic, financial, demographic and civilizational crisis. This implies the need for a fundamental reorientation of Russian policy and necessity of discarding the illusion that modernization may be accomplished by taking short cuts (neo-Stalinist type). That Bolshevik path has been the source of Russia’s structural retardation. Another illusion consists in the belief that Russia can take some “third road”, emulate the Chinese model of development or perpetuate the system of government based on the so-called sovereign democracy – an autocratic, centralized government, steered from above at all levels.
If there is an awareness of what needs to be done, the question arises: what are the main obstacles to the attainment that goal? Radical reform is primarily prevented by historic memory and the fear that a process of fundamental change would unleash centrifugal and disintegrating forces in Russia. Opponents of modernization warn that Gorbachev’s perestroika, instead of modernizing and democratizing the USSR, triggered the process of its disintegration. The leaders of present-Russia want to be certain that the process of reform will not mark the beginning of the end of the Russian Federation.
On the other hand, Russia’s major Western partners do not want a repetition of the instability and unpredictability that marked the Yelstin era, when strategic choice was reduced to the dilemma: either a democratic Russia at the price of chaos and weakness, or autocratic and undemocratic government - but with a strong and stable Russia, whose state and legal institutions are largely for show and whose democracy in declarative and verbal.
Much indicates the choice has been made in favor of pragmatism and acceptance of Russia such as it is, without stimulating its internal democratization and liberalization from the outside and without indicating preferred modes of democratization, since the political class and society would be likely to receive such actions as humiliating and offensive to the dignity of the Russian people.
The West shows understanding for Kremlin’s warnings that a policy of isolation of Russia or its sidelining would invariably stimulate extreme nationalist, aggressive, backward and unpredictable forces. They would seek public support by claiming the West posed an external threat, conclude alliances with anti-American regimes in the Islamic world and with populists in Iran or Venezuela and would support supranational terrorist groups (such as Hamas and Hezbollah) in an attempt to destabilize democratic states in Europe and America.
The challenge in properly understanding the motives of Russian policy lies in the fact that – unlike documents formulated in democratic countries – official Russian texts (statements by politicians, strategic concepts or doctrines) as a rule have propaganda goals and are mainly addressed to an audience in Russia. Rather than presenting a new position, the authors try to conceal new ideas in a deluge of old rhetoric, palatable to opponents of reforms and change.
And so, the Military Doctrine of the Russian Federation (February 5 2010) assigned the standard role of enemy and potential threat to NATO, while in private, unofficial conversations none of my Russian partners treated that assumption seriously, though all of them pointed to a direct threat in the South from Islamic fundamentalism and a growing potential threat in the Far East from China.
Another example of such duality is the draft treaty on European security (November 29 2009) or the proposed NATO-Russia agreement (December 4 2009). Both drafts postulate the principle of “indivisibility of security”. At the same time they seek to legalize the division of NATO into “old” members, with unlimited right to military security, and into “new” members (admitted after May 27 1997), who should be subject to various restrictions, prohibiting the stationing in their territories of units and arms exceeding strictly defined quotas. That amounts to Cold War rhetoric, hindering the development of a “new type of relations” in the second decade of the 21st century.
Against that background, a certain official document, meant for internal use, stands out in positive contrast. Its main message is that Russia’s foreign policy should be subordinated to the internal needs of modernization. I am referring to a memorandum of the Russian MFA (published in the May 11 issue of the Russian edition of Newsweek) under the bureaucratic title of “Program of effective utilization on a systemic basis of foreign policy factors for the long-term development of the Russian Federation”.
In an introductory letter to President Dmitri Medvedev, MFA head Sergei Lavrov says: “The present crisis (…) is a painful side-product of the transformations of the modern world since the end of the Cold War and of a systemic change of the coordinates of international relations, with the appearance of challenges and security threats common to all states. They are of a trans-frontier character and may only be countered through collective efforts of the global international community”. Translated into simple language, the opinions contained in the document of the Russian MFA might be reduced to the following theses:
* Russia is an integral part of the international community affected by a serious financial and economic crisis and is ready to address the common threats. However, it is essential to fundamentally realign the international system, which used to have its center of gravity in the US and the West. That state of affairs has been the source of instability of the world system. * The crisis has affirmed that “the state is the key instrument for the protection and harmonization of the interests of the individual and society and the main participant in the process of international collaboration”. The focus remains on states rather than individuals or non-state actors. * The process of reconstruction of the whole system of international relations has produced modest results. Its greatest achievement is the establishment of the G20 (at the expense of the G8) as a form of collective leadership in the world. * New groups of states and institutions are gaining importance, e.g. BRIC (group of emerging powers: Brazil, Russia, India, China), while the reforms of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank generate little hope, since they are slow and advance with difficulty. * Further transformations of the world system will be polycentric in character. * The West wants to preserve its influence and ensure a “soft landing” for itself, particularly with regard to the financial crisis, and that is why it is trying to maintain at least remnants of influence in that sphere. That is the reason for attempts to preserve the G7, instead of the G8 (i.e. Russia is to be eliminated), in decision-making on currency issues. * The US, according to the authors of the Russian document, seeks to marginalize those multilateral forms of cooperation (BRIC, Shanghai Organization) which it was not invited to join. The American right is pressing the Obama administration to return to the previous strategy (“war on terror”, confrontation with Iran, arms sales to Taiwan, sharpening of relations with China). In effect, conservative forces in the US are attempting to undermine the position of President Obama and his administration. * As part of its global strategy, Russia is betting on an appreciating role of the UN system, wherein the position of the West is increasingly weaker. However, pride of place in Russia’s overall external policy is not assigned to institutions and procedures, but to support for modernization and a leap forward in the sphere of the most advanced technologies. The financial burdens borne by the main actors of the international scene (the US, the Union, and especially Germany and Great Britain) spell another found of shock and upheaval in world economy and finances within the next few years, with Russia as a potential, innocent victim.
That direction of development might be averted through state programs and stimulation of internal demand by implementing major infrastructural projects (e.g. utilization of the US model of the Silicon Valley and establishment of a similar center at Skolkovo near Moscow) and broad-scale re-industrialization, with the use of cutting-edge energy-efficient and environment-friendly Western technologies, etc.
* Those goals require positive changes in world political relations, facilitating the mutual penetration of economies and cultures and the acquisition of innovative methods of modernization (exemplified by the EU-sponsored Partnership for Modernization). This applies to relations with the West – the US and the Union, but also to Brazil, India, South Korea, Singapore and, “to the extent possible”, to China (the wording relating to China is cautious). * Russian foreign policy, according to the document, is supposed to promote the consolidation of the member countries of the Community of Independent States. The cornerstone of that cooperation is to consist not in political or military instruments but primarily in economic ones: the Euro-Asian Economic Community, the Customs Union of Russia, Kazakhstan and Belarus, and the prospect of creating common economic space.
Thus, the tenets of the new Russian strategy are subordinated to internal modernization and external restoration of global power status.
Our thinking should be rooted in the realization that change in Russian policy towards Poland is part of a much broader strategy towards the external world. Moscow perceives Poland in the context of Russian policy addressed towards the entire West, particularly the US and Europe. Our perception of Russia and its political impact on our security is incomparably greater that the place of Poland in Russia’s thinking about the world and its strategic political decisions. The time is ripe to reassess our attitude to Russia and to redefine our long-term expectations.
For the first time ever we have a unique opportunity of co-writing the West’s strategy towards Russia – both within NATO and the EU - in line with our national interests. This requires serious and mature reflection. Also, we need to discard the complexes that overshadow our debate on Russia.
And that debate often reflects a mixture of inferiority and superiority complexes. On the one hand, we hear concerns that “Russia is still playing Poland”, and on the other, that the so-called historic policy is our main asset and instrument. According to Robert Krasowski, it was conceived as a “political instrument to help the right weaken the left, and to let Poland as a whole win international games”; history “was supposed to assist politics, to be its asset, to allow the obtainment of additional benefits as redress for past wrongs” (“Rozkwit czy ostateczne fiasco polityki historycznej?” /The Rise or the Final Fiasco of Historic Policy?/, Europa, No.2/2010).
Let us be frank: historic memory is an important component of the foreign policy of any state and nation. However, it does not exhaust or replace political strategy. Aleksander Smolar accurately pointed out that thanks to us Russia might regain its “excruciatingly painful memory and be ready to confront it, creating the foundations of a democratic society (“Polska, Rosja i śmierć” /Poland, Russia and Death/, Gazeta Świąteczna, April 17 2010).
There has also been criticism of Polish policy, mainly for abandoning “the Jagiellonian idea” and departing from the Giedroyć-Mieroszewski line. It is high time to stop using labels that have little significance today. One gets the impression that those who speak of “the end of Giedroyć’s concept in Polish policy” do not comprehend that it is only now that possibilities have appeared for the implementation of his ideas on a scale previously unthinkable. Asnyk was right when he wrote:
“It is the living we must follow,
And leave the former life beneath,
Abandon the persistence hollow,
Shake off the withered laurel wreath”.
What, then, should we take into account in shaping our strategy towards Russia so that “we follow the living” and “leave the former life beneath”?
* We need to realize the consequences of the fact that ten years after our accession to NATO and six years after joining the EU Russia perceives Poland as an important actor in both these institutions and on the entire European scene. Europe is seen from the Russian vantage point as an attractive model of development and an important partner. But it is also viewed as a rival – not so much in economic terms, as in politics.
These three dimensions (model, partner, rival) also apply to Russia’s relations with Poland. A model, because we are a country that has achieved success – we have conducted effective transformations; a partner – because Poland ranks high in economic relations with Russia; and a rival – because, historically, we have competed in the territories of states inhabited by nations that are our eastern neighbors and Russia’s western neighbors.
We are an important state to Russia: not central in importance, but not marginal, either.
* From the Polish point of view Russia is an important regional power that has global aspirations. The new generation of Poles sees modern-day Poland through different eyes than their fathers: we are an example of a Slavonic state where radical reforms and changes have succeeded. We contradict the widespread conviction in Russia that the models, norms and procedures of Western bourgeois societies are not suitable for the peasant nations to the east of Germany. * Neither historic disputes (though they should be the subject of normal debate between historians), nor a lack of mutual understanding constitutes the main problem in our relations with Russia. The greatest obstacle to shaping normalcy lies in mutual prejudices and the resultant lack of mutual confidence. That is why it is desirable to seek ways of eliminating distrust.
These must not be extemporaneous actions. A year ago the Polish-Russian Group for Difficult Issues proposed to the prime ministers and foreign ministers of the two states that the centers of dialog be institutionalized. The premiers of Poland and Russia accepted that proposal during their meeting in Sopot on September 1 2009 and ordered its implementation during a meeting with the co-chairs of the Group at Smolensk (April 7 2010).
It is time to fulfill that decision. The Group’s works have become a catalyst for the improvement of relations between Poland and Russia. Our experience in building confidence in relations with Russia has evoked interest in many states and at multilateral NATO and EU meetings. The basic assumption is not Russia’s isolation but, on the contrary, its inclusion in collaboration with us – in cooperation with Germany and France, with the use of the Weimar Triangle, as demonstrated by the recent meeting of the four foreign ministers in Paris.
* Finally, Poland and Norway have submitted proposals on confidence-building and military security. The possibility of cooperation relating to conventional and nuclear armament control could be an important element of additional security and diffusion of tensions and distrust.
We will win the understanding and support of our Western partners if Polish postulates are dictated by a political philosophy of including (rather than excluding) Russia; if they encourage Russia to abandon Cold War rhetoric and are based on a common search for ways of overcoming divisions by utilizing existent institutions (such as the NATO-Russia Council or the OSCE) rather than creating new structures. The multiplication of new entities beyond need does not make sense. We should base our relations with Russia on the principle of reciprocity and interdependence, openness, transparency and predictability.
Professor Adam Daniel Rotfeld – minister of foreign affairs in the cabinet of Marek Belka, co-chair of the Polish-Russian Group for Difficult Issues, member of the Group of Wise Men, chaired by former US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, which prepared the report “NATO 2020: Assured Security; Dynamic Engagement” containing an analysis and recommendations regarding the New Strategic Concept of the Atlantic Alliance; member of the commission preparing the Euro-Atlantic Security Initiative.
Gazeta Wyborcza, July 3-4 2010
 Translator’s note: Adam Asnyk (Polish poet, 1838-1897) - „Daremne Żale” (Oh, Void Complaints), translated by Jarek Zawadzki.
II The West and Russia need each other. Russia’s turn towards the West is a matter of existential importance to the former. That is determined by: * rising costs of economic activity and of political ambiguity, uncertainty and instability; * the risk of falling further behind and remaining on the margins of world development; * an urgent need to obtain Western investment capital and modern technologies, which necessitates institutional rather than personal guarantees in the top echelons of government; * recognition of the need to combat legal nihilism, respect the law, build a pluralistic civil society and to conduct an internal democratization as an essential condition of a Western-type modernization.
This is all true.
In my own words:
Russia has always been like its coat of arms - a two-headed eagle
- facing two directions - West and East and being something of an in-between of these two. Neither fully European nor fully Asian. Just Russian. So far it has been OK because Russia/Soviet Union was a superpower with sufficient resources. .
But through a few last decades new powers originated, while today`s Russia is a medium size economy and its population is diminishing. It has stopped being a major global player. To survive as a real, not paper superpower it needs to turn to one of the sides - West or East.
Turning to East means alliance with China which will cost Russia its vast Eastern territories where Chinese businesses and settlement has already gained momentum. One day China will demand this land and Russia, on its own, won`t be able to resist successfully.
Turning to West means partnership with Europe and its closest ally, USA. It is the only way for Russia to survive as a country which it is now.