Poland remains engrossed in a sense of mission with respect to Ukraine and Lithuania, but our neighbours are managing on their own, writes Zbigniew Parafianowicz. Such a reshuffling of alliances and political concepts has not been seen in the East for a long time. While Poland remains focused on debate about whether our policies towards Kiev, Vilnius, Minsk, or Tbilisi should be based more on realpolitik or more on Jagiellonian ideals, the strategic republics of the former Soviet Union have redefined their stance towards Poland, Russia, and the West. And in the new scenarios, Warsaw is not an important player.
Ukraine, economizing its foreign policy in nearly every field, has lost interest in having our advocacy in Europe. Belarus is securing its energy security in an alliance with… Lithuania and Estonia. The Polish favourite, Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili, is winking at dictator Aleksander Lukashenka. And he is preparing a constitutional reform modelled after Russia’s, enabling him to stay in power beyond the end of his second term. It is therefore increasingly difficult to maintain the convenient premises: the bad Lukashenka, the good, anti-Russian, and colourful Ukraine and Georgia, the energy-security ally Lithuania. What is happening in the East is happening irrespective of how we would like to see the East, Zbigniew Parafianowicz writes in his commentary.
The most prominent example of this is Ukraine, as debate is underway in Warsaw about how to take the Euro-Atlantic torch of enlightenment to Ukraine, Kiev is not looking to Poland. Examples are not hard to find. In its talks on an association agreement and free trade zone, Ukraine is fighting hard for the waiver of customs barriers to its cheep and relatively competitive agricultural products and fertilizers. For Poland that is not favourable. Another example: the Ukrainian parliament is debating tax system reform – taking Estonian regulations as its model. And the most painful example – the overall list of Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych’s foreign visits. There have been 15 so far (official and non-official). The first was to Brussels, then Moscow. That much is obvious. Next was the United States, Kazakhstan, France, Belarus, Greece, Turkey, Germany. China, Hong Kong… As for Poland, things are still not clear.
In the case of Belarus, things are even more interesting. It has found assistance for securing its energy interests in… Lithuania and Estonia. Yesterday Belarusian Prime Minister Syarhey Sidorski took part in the Baltic Economic Forum in Riga in Latvia. Belarus is receiving Venezuelan oil through Estonia and the Lithuanian terminal in Klaipeda. All at the same time as the dispute over the future of Orlen’s refinery in Maziekiai and its inability to have oil supplied there.
It is worth taking under consideration the change in the map of alliances in the East. Continuing to pore over the dilemma of Jagiellonian policies vs. hazily defined realpolitik is not very productive, Zbigniew Parafianowicz concludes his commentary.