Many Poles are disappointed in Britain. The original thinking is that Poland needs the UK and by extension the US to maintain independence from Russia and Germany. The UK’s dithering versus Europe may have made it an unreliable security partner in the eyes of many Polish. ‘How much does the UK really care?’ they wonder.
Poland has issues with Obama too. Where’s the missile defence shield? What are those ‘Polish death camps’ Obama referred to? Where are the religious values that Bush JR ostensibly shared in? Where’s the security alliance and rhetorical bravery of Reagan versus the Evil Empire? Poles love the US but aren’t so certain that the US administration understands let alone appreciates their concerns.
The safer bet may be Germany. It has proven to be a reliable partner. It understands Polish concerns. It invests, it employs, it doesn’t talk about the vast parts of Poland that once were German. Gerhard Schroeder’s Russian ventures dented the trust but didn’t destroy it. Angela Merkel more than anyone understands how valuable it is to have Poland in her camp. She cultivates the relationship with care.
In the end though Poland’s interests are best represented by an alliance with Britain and the US. German and Russia consider Poland a minor player. They always have and there’s no reason not to. Economically Poland hugely benefits from friendly relations with its neighbours but in the long term it needs to maintain bonds with the UK but especially the US in order to retain its independence.
The UK needs to invest in Europe, and stop pretending it isn’t a part of a continent it so obviously belongs to. It also needs to strengthen its diplomatic corps so that it can better engage with parties it so obviously shares interests with. I’m encouraged that Cameron understands this more than ever before but Britain is stil far removed from its vast European potential.