Polish Russian Relations
After 1990 Poland followed a two-track policy toward the Soviet Union. It maintained relations with central Soviet institutions while cultivating new relations with the Soviet republics. When the Soviet Union crumbled in 1991, Poland extended the latter policy by recognizing the newly independent post-Soviet states and seeking formal bilateral treaties with them. Thus, declarations of friendship and cooperation were signed with "new" neighbors Ukraine and Belarus in 1990 and 1991, respectively. In 1992 Polish trade and communications links increased with those countries in a fragmented, localized fashion. Poland also joined the Baltic Council, which theoretically linked it in a cooperative structure with the former Baltic republics of the Soviet Union.
Polish policy toward Russia had the short-term goal of expediting removal of the Russian troops that had been on Polish soil since World War II. Thus early support for the independence of the non-Russian Soviet republics was stated carefully to avoid antagonizing Russia. In mid-1992 Russia accepted a troop withdrawal agreement that achieved complete combat troop removal in October 1992; all Russian troops were to leave by the end of 1993. Meanwhile, both nations saw the treaty of friendship and good-neighborly relations signed in May 1992 as beginning a new era of general bilateral cooperation.
The city of Kaliningrad was the capital of a small piece of Russian territory bordering northeast Poland and the Baltic Sea and isolated from the rest of Russia when Belarus, Lithuania, and Ukraine became independent in 1991. By 1992 the city had become a significant issue for Poland because of its continued role as a large Russian military base and its potential as a transportation and trading hub for the entire region. Although Poland and Russia held high-level talks on opening borders, regulating trade, and initiating joint transportation projects along their only common border, no other notable accords were reached in 1992.
It is in Poland's interest to pursue the EU Eastern policy, one of the Union's strategic objectives, to establish good neighbourly relations with countries belonging to the Commonwealth of Independent States. As an immediate neighbour of the Russian Federation (bordering on the Kaliningrad Region), Poland welcomes all initiatives to develop many-sided and good-neighborly co-operation, including economic and energetic co-operation. The new frames for the further relations will be created by Poland's membership in UE and our participation in the Partnership Council UE - Russia and the enlargement for Poland Agreement about Partnership and Co-operation UE - Russia.
The Polish authorities both at central and regional levels consider the development of contacts across borders an effective instrument of mutual understanding to overcome stereotypes. An example of such endeavours is the proposed tri-lateral, Polish-Lithuanian-Russian training programmes for public administration, border and customs services and enterprises. The programme's priority is to develop small and medium-sized businesses in the Kaliningrad Region.
On 1-2 February 2008 in Brussels, the meeting of co-chairmen of history-related Group for Difficult Issues, with participation of the former Minister of Foreign Affairs, professor D.A. Rotfeld and professor A.T. Torkunov, the Rector of MGIMO, was held. In the course of this meeting, both co-chairmen agreed upon future functioning of the Group in its new manning as well as evaluated the ways of using its achievements since its establishment in 2002.
The Eastern Partnership (EaP) is the first Polish initiative incorporated into the system of the European Union's external relations. It was approved by the European Council at its meeting on 19-20 March 2009. The EaP is addressed to Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine. The Eastern Partnership is designed to facilitate the achievement of one of the key goals of Polish foreign policy, the approximation and integration of East European countries with the European Union. The EaP introduces a new quality into relations between the EU and the countries involved, through their gradual integration with the EU. The first conceptual document providing for the establishment of the Eastern Partnership was a joint Polish-Swedish non-paper of May 2008. Subsequently, the European Council approved the initiative and instructed the European Commission to draft a relevant implementing document. On 3 December 2008 the Commission presented its Communication on the Eastern Partnership.
On 17 February 2009 Minister of the Foreign Affairs, Mr Radoslaw Sikorski, stated "The Russian and Georgian conflict made us realize the strength of thinking in the categories of power politics, exerting influence and of zero sum games in our neighbourhood, the neighbourhood of Poland and the neighbourhood of the European Union. It is the kind of thinking that should go out of date in the reality and neighbourhood of the European Union. This conflict also showed that such thinking leads to intricacies of nationalistic instincts and stereotypes, doctrinal hostility and forceful confrontation. Thus it carries an immense load for destabilisation. The recent gas crisis made us realize again that fuels are used for the attainment of political goals. Lack of stabilisation may follow not only a burning, but also a frozen conflict....
"Poland became a predictable partner in Europe. It was able to provide a fast response during the days of the Russian intervention in Georgia, pressing for a fast and proper response of the European Union, believing that the European Community was the powerful force uniting all its Member States. This brought measurable effects in the form of the actions of French Presidency and, upon the motion of Prime Minister Donald Tusk, calling a special meeting of the European Council and termination of armed clashes. We will continue actions for the solution of the conflict."
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