Krzysztof Bobinski https://www.opendemocracy.net/taxonomy/term/1316/all/node/35001 cached version 17/04/2018 19:21:32 en Kleptocracy: final stage of Soviet-style socialism https://www.opendemocracy.net/krzysztof-bobinski/kleptocracy-final-stage-of-soviet-style-socialism <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The tumult in Ukraine marks a wider crisis of the corrupt post-Soviet model. The impact will be felt most acutely in Russia itself, says Krzysztof Bobinski.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p>Viktor Yanukovych’s fall in Ukraine marks the beginning of the end for the post-Soviet mafia-style kleptocracies which emerged from the collapsing communist system after 1989. The rulers of these kleptocracies have shown that they are ready to murder and lie to <a href="http://www.rferl.org/content/ukraine-yanukovych-press-conference/25280591.html">defend</a> a system which allowed them to build fabulous fortunes by stealing from their people.</p><p>The irony is that these kleptocracies mark the final stage of the Soviet path to communism. A very different outcome to the classless nirvana which Soviet ideologists long said would arrive once the new system was put into place. Indeed, their divagations gave rise to the Czech joke about the man who, when he heard at a party meeting that the final stage of communism was approaching, muttered: “I’m not worried, I have cancer”.</p><p>In light of unfolding events in Ukraine, the question now arises whether anyone in the Kremlin is thinking of how Russia’s own kleptocratic regime will fare once the population begins to question the right of their rulers to <a href="http://www.pecob.eu/corruption-ukraine">loot</a> their country in the way that <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-25182830">Viktor Yanukovych</a> and his cronies have been doing.</p><p>It may be that there is such a person. The <em>Financial Times</em> on 27 February <a href="http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/f155610e-9f10-11e3-8663-00144feab7de.html">quotes</a> a contact with Kremlin officials as thinking: "Ukraine needs to find a new economic model which can help distribute wealth more evenly and put an end to endemic corruption". The comment might just as well have referred to Russia itself, which instead of criticising the new authorities in Kiev should be contemplating how to implement such a model at home.</p><p>None of the dreary pre-1989 Soviet ideologists could have imagined, even in their wildest dreams, that the finalite of the struggle to build socialism in their country and its constituent parts would be a kleptocracy - a political and social formation where the entire system is designed to uphold a mafia <a href="http://carnegieendowment.org/2012/04/25/mafia-states/ah37">capture</a> of the state.</p><p>That outcome was also unimaginable to people from the west who greeted the fall of the Soviet system after 1989 with enthusiasm and looked forward to happy times as the Soviet successor-states embraced the free market, the rule of law and a democratic regime. </p><p>As the stream of advisors from the west sought to acquaint the (by then) post-Soviet populations with the rules of the western system, the brightest among the Soviet natives - abetted it might be said by western financiers - moved swiftly to gain control over large chunks of the economy. They established a new system under which soon-to-be-fabulously-rich oligarchs ran their businesses under the watchful eye of their politicians, with whom they shared their ill-gotten gains.</p><p><strong>An end and a beginning</strong></p><p>Then, in 2009, came the European Union’s <a href="http://www.easternpartnership.org/content/eastern-partnership-glance">Eastern Partnership</a> programme. It was a quixotic project which sought once again to try and reform six of the post-Soviet states - Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine - with the aim of re-establishing the free market, the rule of law and a democratic regime, and thus bringing these countries closer to the EU. But the EU officials failed to realise that a programme which <a href="http://www.eap-csf.eu/en/about-eap-csf/about-the-eastern-partnership/">emphasised</a> the rule of law and the empowerment of the people would also threaten the current rulers, by ending their ability to steal with impunity from the people.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; </p><p>Under the <a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/article/idea/the-partnership-principle-europe-democracy-and-the-east">programme</a>, four countries negotiated association agreements with the EU - Ukraine, Armenia, Georgia and Moldova (Belarus is beyond the pale thanks to its bad civil-rights <a href="http://www.hrw.org/europecentral-asia/belarus">record</a>, and energy-rich Azerbaijan doesn’t <a href="http://www.rferl.org/content/azerbaijan-baku-caviar-oil/25162410.html">need</a> this kind of relationship with the EU). Of the four, only Georgia and Moldova are moving ahead with implementation of the agreements. Armenia was scared off by Russia and Vladimir Putin bribed and cajoled Viktor Yanukovych&nbsp; to drop plans to sign the association agreement, which it is now clear that the Ukrainian president had no intention of implementing. However, Yanukovych&nbsp; went along with the programme, convinced he could get the EU to accept his failure to pursue reforms even as the EU <a href="http://eeas.europa.eu/eastern/index_en.htm">continued</a> to provide financial support for his country’s ailing economy.</p><p>This was happening as Yanukovych and his allies such as Viktor Pshonka, Ukraine’s (now ex-) prosecutor-general were amassing fortunes and building private <a href="http://www.euronews.com/2014/02/25/the-opulence-of-viktor-pshonka-ukraine-s-former-general-prosecutor-on-show/">mansions </a>in excruciating bad taste to show off&nbsp; their new-found wealth. It was Pshonka, according to documents <a href="http://www.bne.eu/story5807">published</a> by the internet publication <a href="http://www.bne.eu/"><em>Business New Europe</em></a>, who in the final days of the Yanukovych regime urged the ousted president to impose a thirty-day state of emergency and crush the Maidan revolt in Kiev. And it came as no surprise that the Ukrainian authorities turned to criminal thugs to terrorise the protesters, and that Yanukovych himself used mafia-style threats to keep his party’s deputies in the parliament in line when they threatened to desert.</p><p>The Russian people have been watching and reading this on the internet. The reason they have not already come out onto the streets in protest against their rulers is probably because they agree with President Putin who <a href="http://www.rferl.org/content/ukraine-russia-too-important-to-lose/25276457.html">argues</a> that Ukraine must stay closer to Russia than the EU. But at the same time the dominant feeling throughout the Eastern Partnership region and Russia is anger at corruption, which is at the base of the system in these countries and the massive inequalities it engenders.</p><p>It is impossible to tell when Russians and the other countries in the region will rise up against their rulers but there is a more than even chance that they will rebel sooner or later. Such revolts are all the more likely if the new Ukrainian regime manages to bring in reforms which will indeed put the country on the path of the western-style normality which the people - and especially the younger generation - crave. </p><p>This is the challenge which Vladimir Putin faces. A Ukraine building a western-style market economy based on the rule of law poses a major threat to a system he is defending, where corruption is endemic and the path to inconceivable riches can be followed only by those who enjoy the rulers' favour. The last twenty-five years have seen the rule of the post-Soviet kleptocrats in a kind of "Indian summer" of the Soviet regime. That regime is now, at last, coming to an end.&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; </p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p><a href="http://www.kyivpost.com/"><em>Kyiv Post</em></a></p><p><a href="http://www.bne.eu/"><em>Business New Europe</em></a></p><p>Andrew Wilson, "<a href="http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/comment/why-a-new-ukraine-is-the-kremlins-worst-nightmare-9146751.html">Why a new Ukraine is the Kremlin's worst nightmare</a>" (<em>Independent</em>, 23 February 2014)</p><p><a href="http://eng.globalaffairs.ru/"><em>Russia in Global Affairs</em></a></p><p>Andrew Wilson, <em><a href="http://yalepress.yale.edu/book.asp?isbn=9780300154764">The Ukrainians: Unexpected Nation</a></em> (Yale University Press, 3rd edition, 2009)</p><p><a href="http://www.eap-csf.eu/">Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum</a></p><p><a href="http://eeas.europa.eu/eastern/index_en.htm">EEAS - Eastern Partnership</a></p><p>Teresa Cierco, <a href="http://www.ashgate.com/isbn/9781409457237"><em>The European Union Neighbourhood: Challenges and Opportunities</em></a> (Ashgate, 2013)</p><p>Roger E Kanet &amp; Maria Raquel Freire, <span class="st"><a href="http://www.waterstones.com/waterstonesweb/products/roger+e-+kanet/maria+raquel+freire/competing+for+influence/9154902/"><em>Competing for Influence</em></a><em><a href="http://www.waterstones.com/waterstonesweb/products/roger+e-+kanet/maria+raquel+freire/competing+for+influence/9154902/">: the EU and Russia in post-Soviet Eurasia</a> </em>(Republic of Letters, 2012)</span></p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-sidebox"> <div class="field-label"> Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Krzysztof Bobinski is the president of <em>Unia &amp; Polska</em>, a pro-European think-tank in Warsaw. He was the Warsaw correspondent of the <em>Financial Times </em>(1976-2000) and later published <a href="http://www.unia-polska.pl/index.php?id=13"><em>Unia &amp; Polska </em>magazine</a>. He served as co-chair <span>of the </span><span><a href="http://www.eap-csf.eu/">Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum</a> in 2013</span></p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/krzysztof-bobinski/ukraine-and-europe-russia-crack">Ukraine, and a Europe-Russia crack</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/carmen-claud%C3%ADn/why-does-putin-fear-maidan">Why does Putin fear Maidan? </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/od-russia/andrew-wilson/ukraine%E2%80%99s-2014-belated-1989-or-another-failed-2004">Ukraine’s 2014: a belated 1989 or another failed 2004?</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/od-russia/samuel-greene/why-ukraine-is-still-not-yet-russia">Why Ukraine is still not (yet) Russia</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/od-russia/david-marples/ukraine-view-from-west">Ukraine: the view from the west</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/krzysztof-bobinski/armenias-election-message">Armenia&#039;s election message</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/krzysztof-bobinski/europes-eastern-question">Europe&#039;s eastern question</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/article/idea/the-partnership-principle-europe-democracy-and-the-east">The partnership principle: Europe, democracy, and the east</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Ukraine </div> <div class="field-item even"> Russia </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Civil society </div> <div class="field-item even"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item odd"> International politics </div> </div> </div> oD Russia Russia Ukraine Civil society Democracy and government International politics future of europe ukraine democracy & power russia & eurasia europe Krzysztof Bobinski Fri, 28 Feb 2014 16:14:37 +0000 Krzysztof Bobinski 79817 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Ukraine, and a Europe-Russia crack https://www.opendemocracy.net/krzysztof-bobinski/ukraine-and-europe-russia-crack <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The conflict in Ukraine is part of a wider tussle over eastern Europe's political orientation. The European Union remains pivotal to progress, says Krzysztof Bobinski. </p> </div> </div> </div> <p>In the good old cold-war days when divisions in Europe were clearer, popular upheavals in Soviet-run eastern Europe were met with a measure of consternation in western capitals and some sympathy among western populations. At that time, everyone knew that freedom was at stake - and also that the demand for freedom couldn’t be fulfilled.</p><p>Now, amid fading memories of the period, mass demonstrations in <a href="http://www.coldwar.org/articles/90s/fall_of_the_soviet_union.asp">post-Soviet</a> eastern Europe - such as the ones in Ukraine's capital, Kyiv, from late November 2013 - prompt a subtly different reaction in the west. Among western populations, there is a degree of confusion and some concern, reflecting the fact that no one is quite sure what is at stake this time; since 1989, after all, people have come to take it for granted that the eastern Europeans had won back their freedoms. So people in the west, seeing the many <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-25182823">thousands</a> waving starred European Union flags, respond less with hope than with trepidation. They fear that many of these Ukrainian Euro-enthusiasts will want to come over to the west, with bad consequences for their jobs.</p><p>In western capitals, meanwhile, there is again a measure of consternation, though its nature has changed. During the cold war, leaders were most afraid that the <a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/democracy-protest/hungary_europe_4038.jsp">protests</a> (East Germany in 1953, Hungary in 1956. Czechoslovakia in 1968, Poland in 1970 and 1980-81) would get out of hand and <a href="http://press.princeton.edu/chapters/i7261.html">undermine </a>the division of Europe which had been agreed in the wartime <a href="http://www.pbs.org/behindcloseddoors/in-depth/the-conferences.html">conferences</a> of allied leaders at Yalta and Potsdam. These deals between Roosevelt, Stalin and Churchill (later Attlee) underpinned the decades-long stand-off between the Soviets and the west. So when the intermittent popular eruptions were repressed and order restored, western chanceries - even as they complained vigorously - breathed a sigh of relief. Today's leaders have far more freedom of manoeuvre and options than their constrained predecessors, yet they still seem paralysed by the challenge of integrating with post-Soviet Europe.</p><p>The popular fears and the leaders' worries interact. The result is that the spectacle of the pro-EU crowd on the euro-<a href="http://www.kiev.info/culture/independence_square.htm">Maidan</a> in Kyiv - the largest such demonstrations in history, the likes of which could never have been dreamed of by <a href="http://www.historiasiglo20.org/europe/monnet.htm">Jean Monnet</a> and others of the EU’s founding generation - generates very little enthusiasm on the western side. </p><p>This outcome is the product of the European Union’s very cautious <a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/article/idea/the-partnership-principle-europe-democracy-and-the-east">approach</a> to post-Soviet eastern Europe.</p><p><strong>The context</strong></p><p>It was the European commission, aware that the EU had grown tired of enlargement to the east but desperate for a policy towards the "<a href="http://eeas.europa.eu/enp/about-us/index_en.htm">eastern neighbourhood</a>", which invented the notion of "association agreements" (AAs) with the region's states. A joint Polish-Swedish scheme, conducted under the umbrella of the <a href="http://eeas.europa.eu/eastern/index_en.htm">Eastern Partnership</a>, sought to bring six post-Soviet states closer to the EU: Belarus, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine. </p><p>At the same time, the European commission began to <a href="http://www.rferl.org/content/eu-association-agreement-explained/25174247.html">negotiate</a> the AAs, which included so-called "deep and comprehensive free trade area agreements" (DCFTA). The purpose of the DCFTAs was to allow the eastern-partner <a href="http://www.easternpartnership.org/content/eap-s-bilateral-dimension">countries</a> to adopt most of the EU’s regulations&nbsp; and open each other's markets; they fell short of an offer of full membership, but their acceptance and implementation would have meant a complete <a href="http://www.eurochambres.eu/Content/Default.asp?PageID=175">reform</a> of these countries' largely corrupt and monopolised economies. In turn, people in the European commission thought, existing EU member-states would find it easier to absorb them in a new phase of enlargement. </p><p>Behind the promise of reform, modernisation and prosperity held out by the DCFTAs is the fact that they threatened the deeply entrenched vested interests of local oligarchs and political cliques. </p><p>DCFTAs were prepared with <a href="http://ec.europa.eu/trade/policy/countries-and-regions/countries/ukraine/">Ukraine</a>, then Georgia and Moldova. <a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/krzysztof-bobinski/armenias-election-message">Armenia</a> too was included. But the plan began to go awry in mid-2013 when President Putin’s Russia realised that the association agreements were taking countries like Ukraine out of Moscow’s orbit. The Russians began to agitate against having Kyiv and the others sign the AAs and their component DCFTAs. What had been a highly technical <a href="http://www.easternpartnership.org/content/eap-s-bilateral-dimension">process</a> between Brussels and the Eastern Partnership states began to look <a href="http://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory/eu-promises-tough-summit-russia-ukraine-21291537">like</a> a tug-of-war between Russia and the EU. </p><p>“Everything will change with the implementation of the DCFTAs”, a senior Armenian foreign-ministry official, tired of his country’s failure to reform, had said. The statement was premature: on 3 September 2013 his president, Serzh Sargsyan <a href="http://www.europeanvoice.com/article/2013/september/armenia-chooses-russia-over-eu/78090.aspx">pulled</a> out at the last minute under pressure from Russia. That decision was seen by civil-society groups as a final betrayal, leading them to fear the worst. “Now Russia will take over completely and we will have the Putin model”, said one prominent activist.</p><p>Ukraine had <a href="https://www.gov.uk/government/world-location-news/eu-ukraine-free-trade-area-explained-expert-briefing-for-media">completed</a> the negotiations and initialed the deal. But its failure to comply with a series of EU demands, notably the freeing of former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko, meant it could not not be finalised. Amid rising awareness among Ukraine's population about the issues at stake, Yanukovych's <a href="http://www.euractiv.com/europes-east/yanukovich-flies-china-russia-uk-news-532090">announcement</a> that he would not sign the AA provoked an eruption of pro-European feeling in Kyiv and western Ukraine. </p><p>In Vilnius at the biannual <a href="http://www.eu2013.lt/en/vilnius-summit">summit</a> of the Eastern Partnership on 28-29 November, Georgia and Moldova did initial the AA and the DCFTA. They did this with a certain amount of trepidation as Georgia now fears that Russian pressure will be brought to bear on Tbilisi, while Moldova <a href="http://www.epc.eu/events_rep_details.php?cat_id=6&amp;pub_id=4022&amp;year=2013">faces</a> national elections in late 2014 which could well see a victory of the pro-Moscow party. And it must be remembered that the free-market reforms required by the DCFTA initially bring a measure of pain. The gain only comes later - too late, maybe, for the reformers to win an election.</p><p>The outsiders in all this are Belarus (which because of its human-rights <a href="http://www.hrw.org/europecentral-asia/belarus">record </a>has a tenuous relationship with the EU) and Azerbaijan (which doesn’t have a relationship with the World Trade Organisation and therefore could not start negotiations on a DCFTA). Not that Azerbaijan <a href="http://eastbook.eu/en/2013/12/uncategorized-en/an-inconvenient-messenger-azerbaijan-sweeps-critics-under-the-carpet/">wants </a>a DCFTA; Baku has oil-and-gas giants, EU member-states and Norway lining up to be in its graces, despite its <a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/thomas-de-waal/azerbaijan-speed-without-system-1">bad</a> (and worsening) human-rights situation.</p><p><strong>The choice</strong></p><p>With the demonstrations in Kyiv, the EU finds itself having scored a moral victory which shows that its <a href="http://www.eu2013.lt/en/vilnius-summit">model</a> is attractive to people (especially the young) in eastern Europe - especially compared with what Russia has to offer. True, Russia’s<a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-25430980"> offer </a>of a $15bn dollar loan and agreement to markedly lower gas prices have given President Yanukovych <a href="http://www.kyivpost.com/content/politics/president-makes-a-warning-to-separatists-in-western-ukraine-334314.html">respite </a>from a dire economic situation; but this offers no promise of reform and thus of a medium-term solution to the economic crisis. The leaders of the protests, meanwhile, have called on their supporters <a href="http://news.yahoo.com/pro-eu-protest-ukraine-turnout-down-sharply-001404322.html">not</a> to give up, to continue to <a href="http://uk.reuters.com/article/2013/12/27/uk-ukraine-protests-idUKBRE9BP08C20131227">press</a> the authorities to resign, and to call for new elections.</p><p>The events of late 2013 in Ukraine have shown that Russia holds out <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/europe/russia-gives-ukraine-a-financial-lift/2013/12/17/b9999118-673e-11e3-997b-9213b17dac97_story.html">little</a> to people in eastern Europe in terms of a prosperous economic future. The demonstrations have also shown the Russians themselves as well as people in the states such as Azerbaijan that the <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-25486887">street</a> can checkmate corrupt and tyrannical rulers. There is a young generation in the region, as before the fall of the Soviet Union, which wants to live “normally, like people in the west”. </p><p>Whatever happens in Ukraine over the coming days and weeks, the game is far from over. And officials in European Union capitals and their populations have to get used to the idea that eastern Europeans will <a href="http://www.rferl.org/content/eu-eastern-partnership-checklist/25061049.html">continue</a> to knock at their doors asking for support. These are the EU’s <a href="http://ec.europa.eu/environment/international_issues/eastneighbours_en.htm">neighbours</a> and only the reforms which the EU is proposing can bring long-term stability. The failure of reforms in the region and a&nbsp; continuation of regimes run by corrupt politicians and monopolistic economies&nbsp; dominated by oligarchs can only lead, sooner or later, to popular revolts and repression. That will only leave the EU’s eastern neighbourhood fundamentally unstable.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; </p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p><a href="http://www.eap-csf.eu/">Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum</a></p><p><a href="http://eeas.europa.eu/eastern/index_en.htm">EEAS - Eastern Partnership</a></p><p><a href="http://eastbook.eu/en/documents-2/">Eastbook - Eastern Partnership</a></p><p><a href="http://www.gazetawyborcza.pl/0,82049.html?adw=1&amp;gclid=CKrCtp7IiY4CFQdRMAodzEOyOA"><em>Gazeta Wyborcza </em></a></p><p>Teresa Cierco, <a href="http://www.ashgate.com/isbn/9781409457237"><em>The European Union Neighbourhood: Challenges and Opportunities</em></a> (Ashgate, 2013)</p><p>Roger E Kanet &amp; Maria Raquel Freire, <span class="st"><a href="http://www.waterstones.com/waterstonesweb/products/roger+e-+kanet/maria+raquel+freire/competing+for+influence/9154902/"><em>Competing for Influence</em></a><em><a href="http://www.waterstones.com/waterstonesweb/products/roger+e-+kanet/maria+raquel+freire/competing+for+influence/9154902/">: the EU and Russia in post-Soviet Eurasia</a> </em>(Republic of Letters, 2012)<br /></span></p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-sidebox"> <div class="field-label"> Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Krzysztof Bobinski is the president of <em>Unia &amp; Polska</em>, a pro-European think-tank in Warsaw. He was the Warsaw correspondent of the <em>Financial Times </em>(1976-2000) and later published <a href="http://www.unia-polska.pl/index.php?id=13"><em>Unia &amp; Polska </em>magazine</a></p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/krzysztof-bobinski/polands-1980s-and-transitology-today">Poland&#039;s 1980s, and &quot;transitology&quot; today</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/krzysztof-bobinski/armenias-election-message">Armenia&#039;s election message</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/krzysztof-bobinski/armenias-election-dark-deeds-slim-hopes">Armenia&#039;s election: dark deeds, slim hopes</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/krzysztof-bobinski/europes-problem-polands-perspective">Europe&#039;s problem, Poland&#039;s perspective </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/krzysztof-bobinski/2012-democracys-challenge">2012, democracy&#039;s challenge</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/krzysztof-bobinski/polands-election-european-lesson">Poland&#039;s election, European lesson </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/krzysztof-bobinski/poland%E2%80%99s-european-infusion">Poland’s European infusion</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/krzysztof-bobinski/poland-and-climate-change">Poland and climate change</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/krzysztof-bobinski/poland%E2%80%99s-second-katyn-out-of-ashes">Poland’s second Katyń: out of the ashes</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/krzysztof-bobinski/europes-eastern-question">Europe&#039;s eastern question</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/article/poland-the-future-s-past">Poland: the politics of history </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/article/the-polish-summer-1989-a-farewell-salute">The Polish summer, 1989: a farewell salute</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/article/idea/the-partnership-principle-europe-democracy-and-the-east">The partnership principle: Europe, democracy, and the east</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Poland </div> <div class="field-item even"> Ukraine </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Armenia </div> <div class="field-item even"> Belarus </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Russia </div> <div class="field-item even"> Moldova </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Civil society </div> <div class="field-item even"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item odd"> International politics </div> </div> </div> Can Europe make it? oD Russia Moldova Russia Belarus Armenia Ukraine Poland Civil society Democracy and government International politics future of europe ukraine: the orange revolution democracy & power europe Krzysztof Bobinski Fri, 27 Dec 2013 10:45:51 +0000 Krzysztof Bobinski 78083 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Poland's 1980s, and "transitology" today https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/krzysztof-bobinski/polands-1980s-and-transitology-today <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The 90th birthday of General Jaruzelski, the military figure who imposed martial law in Poland in 1981, was marked by a flurry of backward-looking, politicised debate. A pity, says Krzysztof Bobinski, for the experience of those times offers potential lessons to many regions around the world.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p>The military coup in Egypt which toppled an elected government in the name of democracy shows how hard the transition from an authoritarian regimes to a democratic order can be. The same lesson is taught by the fate of the other north African and Arab revolutions, as well as developments in Russia and other post-Soviet states.<br /><br />In Poland that transition took place twenty-four years ago. The change was peaceful and the effects appear to be permanent. A whole new generation has been born and grown up since, but many of the key actors like <a href="http://www.nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/peace/laureates/1983/walesa-bio.html">Lech Wałęsa</a>, the Solidarity leader and <a href="http://www.wojciech-jaruzelski.pl/">General Wojciech Jaruzelski</a>, the military leader who crushed Wałęsa's movement in December 1981, are still alive. The debate on the rights and wrongs of those times rumbles on. But it fails to give any pointers to would-be revolutionaries in today’s undemocratic regimes or to those authoritarian rulers who might consider handing power over to their people while avoiding poverty, jail or death in a concrete pipe by a dusty roadside. The Polish debate is very much a black-and white-affair with those who still have the strength to argue failing to give nuanced views of what actually happened in <a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/david-hayes/1989-moment-legacy-future">1989</a> - and thus advice, or at least food for thought, to those facing similar dilemmas in today’s world.<br /><br /><strong>Adam Michnik's intervention</strong><br /><br />An opportunity was missed recently when General Jaruzelski celebrated his 90th birthday. On the day itself, on 6 July 2013, his most faithful supporters - all of whom once belonged to the liberal wing of the then ruling establishment - <a href="http://www.thenews.pl/1/9/Artykul/140611,General-Jaruzelski-celebrates-90th-birthday">organised</a> a conference on his achievements in the Hyatt hotel, a little way down the road from the monumental Russian (once Soviet) embassy in Warsaw. That sunny Saturday morning around a hundred mostly young people, many of whom had not been alive in 1989 - let alone in 1981 when martial law was imposed by the general - gathered outside to demonstrate. Almost all were from the<a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/adam-szostkiewicz/poland-1920-and-all-that"> renascent </a>right-wing nationalist end of the political spectrum, which loves to chant that “communists should be hung like leaves on trees”. They made no secret of the fact that they thought the general deserves the same fate. <br /><br />They contend that the present system is a mere extension of the communist times; that democracy is a sham; and that Poland is not independent, as <a href="http://www.cambridge.org/us/academic/subjects/history/european-history-after-1450/concise-history-poland-2nd-edition">before</a> 1989. They are on the political fringe but on 11 November, the national day, they can put thousands of supporters on the streets. They also have the silent approval of the rightwing <em>Prawo i Sprawiedliwosc </em>(Law &amp; Justice / <a href="http://www.pis.org.pl/main.php">PiS</a>) party which the opinion-polls show is a strong <a href="http://polishpartypolitics.com/">challenger</a> for power in elections due in 2015. On General Jaruzelski’s birthday, however, the rest of the population gave the Hyatt a miss. Most people preferred to enjoy the summer weather.<br /><br />There was a smattering of texts, mostly hostile to the general, in the newspapers. One of them was different. It was penned by <a href="http://www.cmc.edu/milosz/speakers/michnik.php">Adam Michnik</a>, a determined oppositionist from his teens in the 1960s and now the chief editor of the liberal <a href="http://wyborcza.pl/0,0.html"><em>Gazeta Wyborcza</em></a>, Poland’s leading daily. Michnik had spent many years in prison in the communist era, most of them in the 1980s after the imposition of martial law. He was <a href="http://wyborcza.pl/1,76842,9205998,Adam_Michnik__Czy_Jaruzelski_chce_leciec_na_beatyfikacje_.html">clear</a> about his feelings for the general: “I admire him as the politician who was responsible for the round-table negotiations” (which led to the 1989 power-sharing agreement and consequently the end of the communist regime) and “for the crucial role he played in the peaceful dismantling of the dictatorship in Poland”. <br /><br />It was a brave, unequivocal statement which few others in Poland are willing to make. Michnik’s point is more than valid. Poland managed in 1989 to emerge from a dictatorship thanks to an agreement between the then underground <a href="http://opendemocracy.net/democracy-protest/solidarity_2806.jsp">Solidarity</a> opposition and the government. The <a href="http://www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/NSAEBB/NSAEBB42/">deal</a> was brokered and guaranteed by the Catholic church which managed to maintain the trust of both sides. The general was a crucial element of the agreement.<br /><br /><strong>The miracle</strong><br /><br />The price the opposition paid was to guarantee Poland’s communist rulers a place in public life after the change. Indeed the successor party to the communists, the Left Democratic Alliance (<a href="http://www.sld.org.pl/strony/4-o_nas.html">SLD</a>), won an election in 1993 and ran the country till 1997 (and then again from 2001-05). Also there was an unspoken agreement to forget if not forgive past transgressions by communist rulers such as the general who as the head of the armed forces in the 1960s and 1970s had done more than oversee the Polish part of the Warsaw pact invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968. For in the same <a href="http://opendemocracy.net/article/globalisation/the_polish_march_students_workers_and_1968">year</a> he had been in charge when officers of Jewish origin were purged from the armed forces. In 1970, moreover, he was at the helm when soldiers had fired on unarmed shipyard workers in the <a href="http://go.hrw.com/atlas/norm_htm/poland.htm">Baltic </a>ports demonstrating for better working conditions. <br /><br />The litany also includes the very fact that he had stayed in the armed forces after the war (he had been <a href="http://www.fofweb.com/History/MainPrintPage.asp?iPin=MWLI173&amp;DataType=WorldHistory&amp;WinType=Free">deported</a> to the Soviet Union from Poland in 1940 and joined the communist-dominated Polish army there) and had been promoted thereafter. This must have meant that he had earned the trust of the Soviets by showing no sign of questioning of anything they asked him to do. These are the arguments which are now being raised by the come-lately radicals (see "<a href="http://opendemocracy.net/article/poland-the-future-s-past">Poland: the politics of history</a>", 12 April 2010)..<br /><br />But it is in the nature of being a dictator that <a href="http://en.europeonline-magazine.eu/poland-orders-exam-of-last-communist-leader-for-potential-trial_290417.html">unsavoury</a> things are done on the way up and when power has been attained. Oppositionists who want such people to relinquish power have to face the fact that by doing so incumbents will escape punishment. Otherwise they will fight to stay. Better to get them to leave peacefully.<br /><br />General Jaruzelski’s main defence is that he imposed <a href="http://en.poland.gov.pl/Martial,Law,,7310.html">martial law</a> in December 1981 to forestall a Soviet military invasion which would have brutally crushed Solidarity. He chose the "lesser evil". Indeed remarkably few people died as a result of martial law also thanks to Solidarity’s ideology of non-violence. Now, however, retired Soviet generals fail to do Jaruzelski the courtesy of confirming they would have invaded Poland in 1981. On the contrary they deny they would ever have done so, <a href="http://soviethistory.org/index.php?page=subject&amp;SubjectID=1980afghanistan&amp;Year=1980">embroiled</a> as they were in Afghanistan. Nevertheless there is a good chance that the Red Army would have <a href="http://psi.ece.jhu.edu/~kaplan/IRUSS/BUK/GBARC/pdfs/poland/poland-eng.html">intervened</a>. Jaruzelski, for his part, is sticking to his version. And finally, as Michnik pointed out, he oversaw the <a href="http://quod.lib.umich.edu/j/jii/4750978.0006.301?rgn=main;view=fulltext">negotiation</a> of the power-sharing agreement in 1989 which led to the <a href="http://info-poland.buffalo.edu/search-all/classroom/longhist6.html">fall</a> of his regime in a peaceful way. That was the miracle.<br /><br /><strong>The future</strong><br /><br />How much of this experience can be useful for present day regime-changers? What is happening in Myanmar certainly appears to have borrowed something from Poland’s experience. However north Africa and the middle east lack the intermediaries that can bring rival factions together and establish a consensus about change as did the Catholic <a href="http://opendemocracy.net/democracy-protest/poland_church_4237.jsp">church</a> in Poland, under the watchful eye of <a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/faith-catholicchurch/article_2399.jsp">Pope John Paul II</a>, a Pole. The Polish events were very much influenced by what was happening in Moscow <a href="http://soviethistory.org/index.php?page=subject&amp;SubjectID=1985perestroika&amp;Year=1985">under</a> Mikhail Gorbachev. Earlier, Poles had feared a Russian invasion; later, the Jaruzelski regime realised that Moscow wanted change in Poland. That too was a powerful driver.<br /><br />The question of how to make the transition now faces Russia where a move away, sooner or later, from the authoritarian KGB style of Vladimir Putin appears inevitable. In many of the other post-Soviet <a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/krzysztof-bobinski/armenias-election-message">states</a> the leaders also stay in power by falsifying elections. This deprives their regimes of the legitimacy they need to stay in power. Challenges to these regimes will come. Corruption is also a cancer which, in countries like Azerbaijan, the population are finding it increasingly <a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/thomas-de-waal/azerbaijani-demolitions-update">difficult</a> to stomach. <br /><br />"Transitology" certainly has a future and Poland’s experience can help. It is a pity that neither side involved in General Jaruzelski’s birthday celebrations, so focused on the past, is giving much thought to that.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p><a href="http://www.gazetawyborcza.pl/0,82049.html?adw=1&amp;gclid=CKrCtp7IiY4CFQdRMAodzEOyOA"><em>Gazeta Wyborcza </em></a></p><p>Neal Ascherson, <a href="http://www.halat.pl/poland.html"><em>The Struggles for Poland </em></a></p> <p><a href="http://www.polishculture.org.uk/">Polish Cultural Institute</a>, London</p><p><a href="http://www.warsawvoice.pl/WVpage/pages/index.php"><em>The Warsaw Voice</em></a></p> <p> <a href="http://www.poland.pl/news/index.htm">Poland.pl - news from Poland</a></p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-sidebox"> <div class="field-label"> Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Krzysztof Bobinski is the president of <em>Unia &amp; Polska</em>, a pro-European think-tank in Warsaw. He was the Warsaw correspondent of the <em>Financial Times </em>(1976-2000) and later published <a href="http://www.unia-polska.pl/index.php?id=13"><em>Unia &amp; Polska </em>magazine</a>.</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/article/poland-the-future-s-past">Poland: the politics of history </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/krzysztof-bobinski/armenias-election-message">Armenia&#039;s election message</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/krzysztof-bobinski/polands-election-european-lesson">Poland&#039;s election, European lesson </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/krzysztof-bobinski/armenias-election-dark-deeds-slim-hopes">Armenia&#039;s election: dark deeds, slim hopes</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/krzysztof-bobinski/europes-problem-polands-perspective">Europe&#039;s problem, Poland&#039;s perspective </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/krzysztof-bobinski/2012-democracys-challenge">2012, democracy&#039;s challenge</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/krzysztof-bobinski/poland%E2%80%99s-european-infusion">Poland’s European infusion</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/krzysztof-bobinski/europes-eastern-question">Europe&#039;s eastern question</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/krzysztof-bobinski/poland%E2%80%99s-second-katyn-out-of-ashes">Poland’s second Katyń: out of the ashes</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/krzysztof-bobinski/poland-and-climate-change">Poland and climate change</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/article/europe-s-politics-of-self-and-others">Europe’s politics of self - and others</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/article/the-caucasus-effect-europe-unblocked">The Caucasus effect: Europe unblocked</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/article/europe-between-past-and-future">Europe between past and future</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/article/idea/the-partnership-principle-europe-democracy-and-the-east">The partnership principle: Europe, democracy, and the east</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/article/the-polish-summer-1989-a-farewell-salute">The Polish summer, 1989: a farewell salute</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Poland </div> </div> </div> Can Europe make it? Can Europe make it? Poland future of europe democracy & power Krzysztof Bobinski Spotlight on what's left in Poland Mon, 22 Jul 2013 12:45:20 +0000 Krzysztof Bobinski 74221 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Armenia's election message https://www.opendemocracy.net/krzysztof-bobinski/armenias-election-message <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>A flawed presidential vote that confirms the incumbent in power also exposes anew the dysfunction of democracy in post-Soviet states, says Krzysztof Bobinski</p> </div> </div> </div> <p>An election in Armenia, as in other post-Soviet states, is more than just a contest between rival politicians. It is also a test for local administrations and managers in the state sector to get citizens to vote for the party in power. In eastern Europe's election jargon, this is called the"misuse of administrative resources" - and has long been criticised by independent election monitors. But just as regularly, local officials ignore this criticism, for they know their jobs are on the line if they fail to <a href="http://iwpr.net/report-news/armenia-gears-least-interesting-ballot">secure</a> a favourable result for the ruling party.</p><p>An incident following the presidential election in Armenia on 18 February 2013 reveals the process at work. Ashot Gharagyosyan, the director of a school in Arabkir, a district of <a href="http://go.hrw.com/atlas/norm_htm/armenia.htm">Yerevan</a>, went to the office of an online magazine called <a href="http://hetq.am/eng/"><em>Hetq</em></a> with a complaint: the local council offices had summoned him and told him to resign because Armenia's incumbent president, <a href="http://www.president.am/en/serzh-sargsyan/">Serzh Sargsyan</a>, had failed to win the vote in Arabkir. </p><p>“They asked me why Serzh Sargsyan lost in Arabkir. I told them I didn’t know. I said I was never the head of the election committee or of the local campaign HQ. I wasn’t responsible for anything. I told them I was never given any responsibility for collecting votes”, <em>Hetq</em> reports. “They told me I should write a letter of resignation. I asked why. They said because all of us had failed the president in Arabkir. I asked what connection did I have in the matter and that I was only performing my work in the school.”</p><p>Mr Gharagyosyan was <a href="http://hetq.am/eng/news/23717/arabkir-gym-school-director-local-officials-want-to-fire-me-for-not-collecting-votes-for-serzh.html">informed</a> by local officials of the ruling Republican Party that his successor at the school had already been chosen, and that the new appointee has already been "paid off". "The money he has received means he will do everything to bring in votes at the next election”, the now ex-director was told.</p><p>The officials knew that they have to move fast: Armenia's opposition is already mobilising for Yerevan's municipal <a href="http://www.a1plus.am/en/politics/2013/03/11/cec">elections</a> in May 2013, leading with an accusation that the presidential poll was stolen. In addition, NGOs will be monitoring the capital city's elections in an attempt to minimise fraud.</p><p>The Armenian election never really caught the attention of the international press. It is unlikely that the presidential elections in <a href="http://www.electionguide.org/country.php?ID=81">Georgia</a> and <a href="http://www.electionguide.org/country.php?ID=16">Azerbaijan</a> in October 2013 will do so, even less Yerevan's local ones. But attention should be paid, for the elections are also a test of the European Union’s "Eastern Partnership" policy <a href="http://eeas.europa.eu/armenia/index_en.htm">towards</a> the post-Soviet states which aims to align them with European practice (and at some point in the future put them on course for EU membership). The EU policy is based on negotiating "deep and comprehensive free-trade area" (<a href="http://www.easternpartnership.org/community/debate/association-agreements-and-deep-and-comprehensive-free-trade-areas-who-will-benefit">DCFTA</a>) agreements with the neighbourhood; this would see the post-Soviet states agreeing to implement a great deal of EU legislation, but also adhering to democratic standards such as free and fair elections. </p><p>In Azerbaijan, the chances of a clean election are faint. The opposition faces <a href="http://iwpr.net/report-news/libel-actions-squeeze-azerbaijans-opposition-press">harassment</a>, demonstrations in Baku are broken up, and legislation is being passed to limit the activities of NGOs. In Georgia, by contrast, the <a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/ghia-nodia/georgias-election-lesson-and-prospect">situation</a> is more hopeful. There, a new opposition under the billionaire Bidzina Ivanishvili won parliamentary elections on 1 October 2012, and the acceptance of the result by President Mikhail Saakashvili allowed a peaceful <a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/donald-rayfield/bidzina-ivanishvili-and-new-old-georgia">transfer</a> of power. More recently, government and opposition have agreed on a common pro-western foreign policy which should pathe the way to a DCFTA and closer relations with the EU.</p><p><strong>The chance for change</strong></p><p>The democractic success in Georgia encouraged young pro-democracy activists in Armenia, tired of the endless fraud around elections and the cynical deals cut between ruling parties and the opposition. The latter have prompted people either to stay away from the polls or vote in the way officials wanted in <a href="http://www.yerevannights.com/NewsOnline/article.aspx?id=356">return</a> for a bribe. But the election on 18 February also saw a groundswell of protest which favoured Raffi Hovannisian, leader of the small Heritage Party (Hovannisian was born and educated in California and came to Armenia in 1990).</p><p>The authorities did everything possible to ensure the right result. The local administration used public employees in schools (such as Mr Gharaghyosyan), hospitals, municipal services and condominiums to bribe, persuade or simply intimidate citizens to vote for the president. The fact that many names on the electoral roll were of Armenians who had emigrated was a further opportunity for fraud.</p><p>It seemed to work, as the official results gave Serzh Sargsyan 59% of the votes against Raffi Hovannisian's 37%. Hovannisyan immediately challenged this, organising <a href="http://www.yerevannights.com/NewsOnline/article.aspx?id=439">rallies</a> in Yerevan and regional centres which claimed that he was the real winner. Reports from election monitors suggested that there indeed had been significant fraud, and the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (<a href="http://www.osce.org/odihr">ODiHR</a>) - the very experienced monitoring organisation of the OSCE - noted that "an analysis of official results shows a correlation between very high turnout and the number of votes for the incumbent. This raises concern over the integrity of the electoral process". In everyday language this means that when the president's people in polling-stations realised that he was losing and needed <a href="http://iwpr.net/report-news/sweeteners-votes-armenia">artificial</a> support, they stuffed the ballot-boxes with papers supporting him; hence the higher than average turnout in places where backing for the incumbent soared.</p><p>Yet even the published <a href="http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Latest-News-Wires/2013/0218/Exit-poll-Armenian-president-reelected">results</a> show that the ruling party has been severely weakened - something reflected in a comment made to Mr Gharaghosyan by one of those who sacked him ("All of us have failed the president"). More importantly, Serzh Sargsyan - who needs significant funding from the EU - has been telling top figures in Brussels that in the wake of his re-election he will move ahead with talks on the DCFTA. A finalisation of any such agreement - which could happen in autumn 2014, when a summit of EU heads of government and of the <a href="http://eeas.europa.eu/eastern/index_en.htm">Eastern Partnership</a> countries is scheduled to take place in Vilnius - it would then have to be implemented. And that would mean challenging some of the powerful and rich vested interests that have come to <a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/krzysztof-bobinski/armenias-election-dark-deeds-slim-hopes">support</a> Sargsyan’s Republican Party</p><p>For the moment, the Armenian authorities are waiting for the local protest movement to <a href="http://www.panorama.am/en/analytics/2013/03/20/a-meliqyan/">fade</a>. The constitutional court on 14 March <a href="http://www.rferl.org/content/armenia-hovannisian-complaint-rejected/24928964.html">rejected</a> charges that the election was fixed, leaving Sargsyan to be inaugurated for a new term on 9 April. But in the Yerevan elections in May, Raffi Hoavnnisian (who announced a <a href="http://armenianow.com/vote_2013/44525/armvote13_raffi_hovannisian_serzh_sargsyan_hungerstrike">hunger-strike</a> on 10 March) could yet <a href="http://www.rferl.org/content/armenia-election-situation-standoff/24932312.html">stand</a> at the head of an opposition alliance, <a href="http://www.panorama.am/en/society/2013/03/20/khurshudyan/?sw">posing</a> a fresh problem to Armenia’s rulers. </p><p>A flawed political <a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/article/democracy_power/caucasus/armenia_elections">system</a> in the post-Soviet states - where power is held by cynical politicians and their rich backers, where corruption is widespread and acquiescence in it routine - makes for little more than a parody of western democracy. But it also increases the pressure for peaceful change, and here elections - fraudulent as they have been, and disllusioned as citizens may be - still provide the best route. </p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p><a href="http://www.eap-csf.eu/en/countries/armenia/">Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum</a></p> <p>Armine Ishkanian, <a href="http://www.routledge.com/books/details/9780415436014/"><em><span><span>Democracy Building and Civil Society in Post-Soviet Armenia</span></span></em></a> (Routledge, 2008)</p> <div>Razmik Panossian, <em><a href="http://www.hurstpub.co.uk/BookDetails.aspx?BookId=373"><span><span>The Armenians: From Kings and Priests and to Merchants and Commissars</span></span></a></em> (C Hurst, 2006)</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>Gerard Libaridian, <a href="http://www.transactionpub.com/cgi-bin/transactionpublishers.storefront/47bad1930064ef0aea6dc0a80aa50769/Product/View/1&amp;2D4128&amp;2D0648&amp;2D8"><em><span><span>Modern Armenia: People, Nation, State </span></span></em></a>(Transaction, 2004)</div> <div> <p>Thomas de Waal, <a href="http://www.nyupress.org/books/Black_Garden-products_id-3252.html"><em><span><span>Black Garden: Armenia and Azerbaijan through Peace and War</span></span></em></a> (NYU Press, 2003)</p> <p><a href="http://www.panarmenian.net/"><span><span>Armenia news </span></span></a></p> <p><a href="http://www.rferl.org/section/Armenia/150.html"><span><span>RFE/RL - Armenia</span></span></a></p> <p><a href="http://www.armenianweekly.com/"><em><span><span>The Armenian Weekly</span></span></em></a></p> <p><a href="http://ec.europa.eu/world/enp/policy_en.htm"><span><span>European Neighbourhood Policy</span></span></a></p> <p><a href="http://www.ypc.am/bulletin/y/2011/m/05/ln/en">Yerevan Press Club</a></p></div> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-sidebox"> <div class="field-label"> Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Krzysztof Bobinski is the president of <em>Unia &amp; Polska</em>, a pro-European think-tank in Warsaw. He was the Warsaw correspondent of the <em>Financial Times </em>(1976-2000) and later published <a href="http://www.unia-polska.pl/index.php?id=13"><em>Unia &amp; Polska </em>magazine</a></p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/krzysztof-bobinski/armenias-election-dark-deeds-slim-hopes">Armenia&#039;s election: dark deeds, slim hopes</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/article/armenia-s-mixed-messages">Armenia’s mixed messages</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/armine-ishkanian/liberation-technology-dreams-politics-history">Liberation technology: dreams, politics, history </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/article/democracy_power/caucasus_fractures/armenia_election">Armenia’s election: the waiting game</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/article/armenia-s-mixed-messages">Armenia’s mixed messages</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/krzysztof-bobinski/europes-problem-polands-perspective">Europe&#039;s problem, Poland&#039;s perspective </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/krzysztof-bobinski/polands-election-european-lesson">Poland&#039;s election, European lesson </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/krzysztof-bobinski/europes-eastern-question">Europe&#039;s eastern question</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/article/democracy_power/caucasus/armenia_elections">Democracy contested: Armenia’s fifth presidential elections</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Armenia </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item even"> International politics </div> </div> </div> Armenia Democracy and government International politics caucasus: regional fractures democracy & power europe Krzysztof Bobinski Thu, 21 Mar 2013 05:57:23 +0000 Krzysztof Bobinski 71714 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Armenia's election: dark deeds, slim hopes https://www.opendemocracy.net/krzysztof-bobinski/armenias-election-dark-deeds-slim-hopes <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The Armenian authorities' capacity to&nbsp;secure the right result in the country's parliamentary election is matched by their failure to meet citizens' basic needs. The consequences are a priority for Armenia's civil society,&nbsp;says Krzysztof Bobinski.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p>Armenia's parliamentary election held on 6 May 2012 failed to stand out as particularly dramatic among the many elections held in Europe in the past few months. But it is worth noting as an example of one of the trends in current democratic developments: an apparently open contest which was managed by the government so well as to get a result favouring the ruling party.</p> <p>This landlocked <a href="http://go.hrw.com/atlas/norm_htm/armenia.htm">country</a> with a largely poor population of under 3 million has bad <a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/vicken-cheterian/armenia-turkey-end-of-rapprochement">relations</a> with neighbouring Turkey and even <a href="http://hetq.am/eng/news/15184/another-enemy--incursion-in-tavoush;-armenian-forces-kill-5-azerbaijani-soldiers.html">worse</a>&nbsp;with nearby (and oil- and gas- rich) Azerbaijan. It is also beholden to Russia for support in case of a renewal of an armed conflict with Baku <a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/democracy-caucasus/nagorno_reality_4184.jsp">over</a> the territory of Nagorno-Karabakh, which it reclaimed from the Azeris in an ugly short war in the early 1990s. Armenia’s last presidential <a href="http://www.electionguide.org/country.php?ID=12">election</a> in 2008 saw tens of thousands of demonstrators pour into the streets of Yerevan, the capital, to protest a result which they saw as fraudulent; ten were shot dead by security forces (see Armine Ishkanian, "<a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/article/democracy_power/caucasus/armenia_elections">Democracy contested: Armenia's fifth presidential elections</a>", 4 March 2008).</p> <p>The winner that time was Serzh Sarkisan, who today remains firmly ensconced in the <a href="http://www.president.am/president/cover/eng/">presidential</a> palace. His Republican Party of Armenia, which before the May election controlled sixty-four seats in the 131-seat parliament, <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-17973353">emerged</a> with sixty-nine seats after what <a href="http://www.osce.org/odihr/elections/89073">international</a> election-observers described as a "competitive, vibrant and largely peaceful" campaign. But the observers did <a href="http://www.rferl.org/content/armenia_elections_step_backward/24574517.html">notice</a> "violations of campaign provisions and cases of pressure on voters" which meant that the electoral "playing-field" was "unequal". </p> <p>The election was a rehearsal for the next presidential contest due in February 2013. It has left Armenia's opposition (whose main alliance, the Armenian National Congress (ANC), <a href="http://www.rferl.org/content/armenia_voting_in_parliamentary_elections/24571371.html">gained</a> a mere 7% of the vote and seven seats in parliament) in a state of confusion as to how to proceed. For their part, civil-society organisations are wondering whether progress can be made towards holding a real election, in <a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/democracy-protest/armenia_3075.jsp">contrast</a> to what one activist described as the manipulated "act of theatre" on 6 May. </p> <p><strong>The winning strategy </strong></p> <p>For the Armenian authorities, the main task in the election <a href="http://www.rferl.org/content/armenia_gears_up_for_de-ideologized_election/24570864.html">campaign</a> was to show the <a href="http://eeas.europa.eu/delegations/armenia/index_en.htm">European Union</a> that the elections were free and fair. This was so because they desperately needed and still <a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/armen-haykyan/europe%E2%80%99s-armenian-policy-cost-of-indulgence">need</a> promised financial aid from the EU. "That is why they wanted to impress Brussels while making sure they won", says another activist from a non-governmental organisation.</p> <p>This was how it was done. </p> <p>An initial message was delivered from the presidential administration both to the public media and to private-media outlets that they were to be scrupulously fair in their coverage of the various political parties. Thus there were copious debates on the air and in the print media on social issues and the state of the economy, judicial reforms, corruption, European integration and demographic challenges - with tens of thousands also following the exchanges on the <a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/armine-ishkanian/liberation-technology-dreams-politics-history">internet</a>. The public broadcasters made every effort to be fair, whether because of the instructions from on high or because they were happy to present unbiased reporting. In any event, monitors from the <a href="http://www.ypc.am/bulletin/y/2011/m/05/ln/en">Yerevan Press Club</a> headed by Boris Navasardian were suitably impressed. </p> <p>The decision by the authorities to free up the debate carried the risk that voters would take seriously what they heard and start deciding on how they would vote on the basis of pledges made by the politicians. They need not have worried: the credibility of politicians in Armenia is so low that the campaign had little effect on voters' attitudes.</p> <p>Instead, three further mechanisms were brought into play to build support. The first was simple <a href="http://www.yerevannights.com/NewsOnline/article.aspx?id=356">vote-buying</a>. In the main, one vote cost around €20 ($25); some say the price at times even went up to €80 ($100) as people bargained for a better deal. "People were happy to sell their vote as they thought that a straight cash payment was a very tangible benefit which they could get from the politicians - and worth much more than an election pledge", says Liana Syadan, an independent journalist, who heard people in her block of flats talking freely of the money they had taken to vote for the parties in the ruling coalition. These <a href="http://iwpr.net/report-news/sweeteners-votes-armenia">payments</a> were important for poor people. "Indeed", she adds, "the prices of basic goods went up immediately after the elections as people spent their election profit."</p> <p>The second was a well-organised system of multiple voting, whereby people were bussed around from one polling-station to another. Some, as well as voting many times, used their own identity-documents over and over again; others had multiple sets of documents so that they could do this with impunity. Voters’ lists were also replete with "dead souls" - names of people in derelict buildings and the like, who no longer or never had lived there. </p> <p>The third tool used was pressure from bosses in the public administration, as well as in schools and hospitals and in private companies, to vote for the "right" party on pain of suffering discrimination at work or even getting the sack. This is euphemistically called the use of "administrative resources" and is becoming a well-established election norm in the former Soviet states. </p> <p>The fact that these three mechanisms were used is common knowledge in Armenia. Yet they are also difficult to prove without witnesses willing to come forward and testify to irregularities. The only way to confirm multiple voting would be to check actual voting-lists to see who cast their vote; but the authorities refuse to show these, citing European court-judgments on the duty to withhold private data. Therein lies one of the problems for <a href="http://www.routledge.com/books/details/9780415436014/">civil-society</a> activists working for a fair election system.</p> <p><strong>The view from Gyumri</strong></p> <p>This situation was discussed recently at a meeting of Armenian NGOs - members of the <a href="http://www.eap-csf.eu/en/countries/armenia/">Civil Society Forum</a> of the European Union’s <a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/krzysztof-bobinski/europes-eastern-question">Eastern Partnership</a> - in Gyumri, Armenia’s second largest city. Gyumri (then known as Leninakan) was hard-hit by the <a href="http://earthquake.usgs.gov/earthquakes/world/events/1988_12_07_ev.php">earthquake</a> in 1988 when 27,000 people died in the town and in surrounding areas of northern Armenia. The destruction of this former textile centre (whose workers included Valentina Tereshkova, the Soviet Union’s first woman cosmonaut) was vast, and Gyumri has yet to recover. Almost a quarter-century <a href="http://iwpr.net/report-news/gyumri-residents-recall-catastrophic-tremor">later</a>, 6,000 victims of the earthquake still <a href="http://iwpr.net/report-news/armenia-quake-victims-still-homeless">live</a> in container-dwellings, the streets are full of potholes, and street-lighting is almost non-existent. </p> <p>Russian soldiers were once stationed in a Tsarist fortress built on the outskirts of the city to guard against the Ottoman empire. Russian troops are <a href="http://iwpr.net/report-news/moscow-extends-lease-armenian-base">still</a> there, ostensibly now to defend Armenia from a Turkish threat. A nearby <a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/donald-rayfield/georgia-two-years-on-future-beyond-war">rail-crossing</a> into Turkey has been <a href="http://hetq.am/eng/news/15153/multi-media-exhibit-looks-at-closed-turkey-armenia-border.html">closed</a> since the mid-1990s. Yet a newly built and magnificently illuminated city hall dominates Gyumri's main square, while down the street a hotel belonging to the mayor’s family is equally well-lit. At night, the <a href="http://www.eurasianet.org/armenia08/corruption/index.shtml">contrast</a> between these buildings and the darkness along streets elsewhere is striking (see Fred Halliday, "<a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/article/armenia-s-mixed-messages">Armenia's mixed messages</a>", 15 October 2008).</p> <p>The <a href="http://www.gyumri.am/eng/mayor.html">mayor</a>, Vardan Ghukasyan, has been in office since 1999 after winning successive elections. He faces another election this autumn. The failure to serve the basic <a href="http://www.armenianweekly.com/2011/01/06/new-report-on-armenia-poverty-rate-worries-unicef/">needs</a> of the citizens and the signs of arrogance by the authorities may not be enough to bring about a change in Armenia. But these are the <a href="http://www.epress.am/en/2012/04/06/in-armenia-large-families-and-women-hardest-hit-by-poverty.html">conditions</a> which have enraged people in Russia, even in the provinces, and moved them in autumn 2011 to question Vladimir Putin’s rule.&nbsp;Whether, sooner or later,&nbsp;that mood will come to be shared by Armenians, time will tell.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p><a href="http://www.eap-csf.eu/en/countries/armenia/">Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum</a></p> <p>Armine Ishkanian, <a href="http://www.routledge.com/books/details/9780415436014/"><em><span><span>Democracy Building and Civil Society in Post-Soviet Armenia</span></span></em></a> (Routledge, 2008)</p> <div>Razmik Panossian, <em><a href="http://www.hurstpub.co.uk/BookDetails.aspx?BookId=373"><span><span>The Armenians: From Kings and Priests and to Merchants and Commissars</span></span></a></em> (C Hurst, 2006)</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>Gerard Libaridian, <a href="http://www.transactionpub.com/cgi-bin/transactionpublishers.storefront/47bad1930064ef0aea6dc0a80aa50769/Product/View/1&amp;2D4128&amp;2D0648&amp;2D8"><em><span><span>Modern Armenia: People, Nation, State </span></span></em></a>(Transaction, 2004)</div> <div> <p>Thomas de Waal, <a href="http://www.nyupress.org/books/Black_Garden-products_id-3252.html"><em><span><span>Black Garden: Armenia and Azerbaijan through Peace and War</span></span></em></a> (NYU Press, 2003)</p> <p><a href="http://www.panarmenian.net/"><span><span>Armenia news </span></span></a></p> <p><a href="http://www.rferl.org/section/Armenia/150.html"><span><span>RFE/RL - Armenia</span></span></a></p> <p><a href="http://www.armenianweekly.com/"><em><span><span>The Armenian Weekly</span></span></em></a></p> <p><a href="http://ec.europa.eu/world/enp/policy_en.htm"><span><span>European Neighbourhood Policy</span></span></a></p> <p><a href="http://www.ypc.am/bulletin/y/2011/m/05/ln/en">Yerevan Press Club</a></p></div> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-sidebox"> <div class="field-label"> Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Krzysztof Bobinski is the president of <em>Unia &amp; Polska</em>, a pro-European think-tank in Warsaw. He was the Warsaw correspondent of the <em>Financial Times </em>(1976-2000) and later published <a href="http://www.unia-polska.pl/index.php?id=13"><em>Unia &amp; Polska </em>magazine</a><a id="link3" title="archive de Unia &amp; Polska magazine" rel="nofollow" href="http://archive.wikiwix.com/opendemocracy/?url=http://www.unia-polska.pl/index.php?id=13&amp;title=Unia%20%26%20Polska%20magazine">↑</a> </p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/article/democracy_power/caucasus_fractures/armenia_election">Armenia’s election: the waiting game</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/article/armenia-s-mixed-messages">Armenia’s mixed messages</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/vicken-cheterian/armenia-turkey-protocols-year-on-0">The Armenia-Turkey protocols: a year on </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/article/armenia/armenia-and-turkey-forgetting-genocide">Armenia and Turkey: forgetting genocide </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/article/armenia/armenia-turkey-genocide-blockade-diplomacy">Armenia-Turkey: genocide, blockade, diplomacy</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/vicken-cheterian/armenia-turkey-end-of-rapprochement">Armenia-Turkey: the end of rapprochement </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/vicken-cheterian/armenian-genocide-and-turkey-then-and-now">Armenian genocide and Turkey: then and now </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/article/armenia/the-armenia-turkey-process-don-t-stop-now">The Armenia-Turkey process: don’t stop now </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/krzysztof-bobinski/2012-democracys-challenge">2012, democracy&#039;s challenge</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/krzysztof-bobinski/europes-problem-polands-perspective">Europe&#039;s problem, Poland&#039;s perspective </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/krzysztof-bobinski/polands-election-european-lesson">Poland&#039;s election, European lesson </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/krzysztof-bobinski/europes-eastern-question">Europe&#039;s eastern question</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/article/democracy_power/caucasus/armenia_elections">Democracy contested: Armenia’s fifth presidential elections</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/armen-haykyan/europe%E2%80%99s-armenian-policy-cost-of-indulgence">Europe’s Armenian policy: the cost of indulgence</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/armine-ishkanian/liberation-technology-dreams-politics-history">Liberation technology: dreams, politics, history </a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Armenia </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Civil society </div> <div class="field-item even"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item odd"> International politics </div> </div> </div> oD Russia Armenia Civil society Democracy and government International politics politics of protest democracy & power russia & eurasia europe Krzysztof Bobinski Thu, 07 Jun 2012 06:19:40 +0000 Krzysztof Bobinski 66251 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Europe's problem, Poland's perspective https://www.opendemocracy.net/krzysztof-bobinski/europes-problem-polands-perspective <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> The still uncertain outcome of the eurozone crisis makes predictions for 2012 difficult. But its singular impact in the European Union's newer member-states could include a revived appreciation of the benefits of federalism, says Krzysztof Bobinski. </div> </div> </div> <P>Men of a certain age are rarely at their best at 3 o'clock in the morning. So it was that at the latest emergency summit of European Union leaders in Brussels, France's Nicolas Sarkozy snapped at Denmark's prime minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt: "You’re an out, a small out, and you’re new. We don’t want to hear from you". </p> <P>The French president was objecting to the sight of the recently elected premier of a country outside the eurozone venturing to contribute to discussion of the ongoing euro crisis. But perhaps more significant than his abandonment of all pretence of gallic charm is the oddness of a situation where Europe's leaders are unable to suspend their talks at an earlier hour and return after a good sleep to try to resolve problems which affect millions of their own and the world's citizens. </p> <P>Admittedly, the sheer difficulty of a summit of twenty-seven member-states finding common solutions to complex problems involving inevitable clashes of national interests means that even well-rested leaders might have proved incapable of agreement. After all, the eurozone has been in slow meltdown throughout 2011, like a disintegrating glacier succumbing to global warming; and as with climate change, politicians chosen by and vulnerable to national electorates have struggled to rise to a transnational challenge. </p> <P>The Brussels summiteers were tasked with putting together a policy framework for the seventeen eurozone countries which would convince investors that these states would in future conduct prudent fiscal policies and contain sovereign debt. In the event, in those bleary-eyed late hours they did produce the outlines of such a treaty - albeit so vague that it requires further negotiation between the putative signatories and acceptance by national parliaments (and moreover with Britain outside the process). The investors whom the summiteers were seeking to impress paid little attention - but an effort was made and for the moment, <EM>le jeu se roule.</em> </p> <P><STRONG>The Polish way</strong></p> <P>All this finds the "new" member-states - those that joined the European Union in the enlargements of 2004 and 2007 - in a bit of a muddle. When the former Soviet satellites plus the Baltic states entered (along with Cyprus and Malta) in 2004, they thought they had reached a safe harbour which would allow them to recuperate and grow after more than four decades inside or tagged on to the Soviet Union. Each dutifully added&nbsp;participation in the euro to their accession treaty, though so far only Slovenia, Slovakia and Estonia have actually embraced the new currency. </p> <P>But where does that leave a country like Poland, the largest of the entry "class" of 2004? A provisional answer is: appalled that it might be left outside a more integrated eurozone, yet fearful that the eurozone crisis might drag it down were it to get too close. </p> <P>Since its accession, Poland has been a low-cost supplier of components to German industry, thus helping its western neighbour to keep down costs and remain competitive in world markets. Thanks to this and to a large domestic market, the Polish economy has been alone in the EU in continuing to grow throughout the entire financial crisis. But it has been deeply worried that the crisis might remove the export source of growth and reduce the country to the status of a "second-class member" of the union, outside the eurozone, and not consulted on regulations which will affect its future.</p> <P>Poland has responded to these fears by seeking to stay close to Germany and France in the talks on resolving the eurozone’s problems. "If you are not at the table then you will find yourself on the menu" is a phrase the Polish premier, Donald Tusk, likes to repeat. Poland needs to keep Germany as a friend, as negotiations on the next EU budget (2014-20) are looming and Warsaw - a net recipient of funds - stands to lose without powerful allies. Hence the dramatic appeal in Berlin by Radek Sikorski, Poland’s Anglophile foreign minister, for Germany to do more to save the euro.</p> <P>But Poland also realises that with France’s <EM>etatist</em> approach to economic governance and Germany’s support for tax harmonisation, it would be good to keep the free-market-friendly United Kingdom at the table on talks about new arrangements in a eurozone Poland is likely at some point to join. That would explain the depressed tone of the Polish finance minister Jacek Rostowski as he emerged from the all-night session in Brussels. Poland will be rooting for those in Britain's governing coalition (namely the Liberal Democrat junior partners led by Nick Clegg) and foreign office who want to return to negotiation rather than sail off into the mid-Atlantic as Britain’s eurosceptics want. </p> <P>A lot is riding on the outcome of the prolonged euro crisis. What is interesting though is that talk of closer integration of the eurozone has reminded some of the forgotten cause of European federalism. Even in Poland, the party led by (and named after) Janusz Palikot - a maverick grouping intent on modernising the country - has unreservedly espoused federalism, the first to do so since Poland regained its independence in 1989. The former communist Left Democratic Alliance (SLD) is also thoroughly pro-integrationist. This will in turn push the ruling Civic Platform, which has in the past wobbled in its support for the EU, further towards "ever-closer union". </p> <P>Even an ill wind can blow the embers of a faltering flame. Whatever shape the euro crisis takes next, it has shown the newer member-states such as Poland how important a united Europe is for their security and well-being. And that is a lesson which is still - and always - worth repeating. </p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <P><A href="http://pl2011.eu/en"><SPAN><SPAN>Poland's European Union presidency, July-December 2011</span></span></a></p> <P><A href="http://wybory2011.pkw.gov.pl/wyn/en/000000.html#tabs-1"><SPAN><SPAN>Poland - election 2011</span></span></a></p> <P>Anita J Prazmowska, <EM><A href="http://www.palgrave.com/products/title.aspx?pid=397129">A History of Poland</a></em> (Palgrave, 2nd edition, 2011)</p> <P><A href="http://www.warsawvoice.pl/WVpage/pages/index.php"><EM><SPAN><SPAN>The Warsaw Voice</span></span></em></a></p> <P>Jerzy Lukowski &amp; Hubert Zawadzki, <A href="http://www.cambridge.org/uk/catalogue/catalogue.asp?isbn=9780521853323"><EM><SPAN><SPAN>A Concise History of Poland</span></span></em></a> (Cambridge University Press, 2006)</p> <P><EM><A href="http://www.wbj.pl/index.html"><SPAN><SPAN>Warsaw Business Journal</span></span></a></em></p> <P>Neal Ascherson, <A href="http://www.halat.pl/poland.html"><EM><SPAN><SPAN>The Struggles for Poland </span></span></em></a></p> <P><A href="http://www.polishculture.org.uk/"><SPAN><SPAN>Polish Cultural Institute</span></span></a>, London</p> <P><A href="http://www.gazetawyborcza.pl/0,82049.html?adw=1&amp;gclid=CKrCtp7IiY4CFQdRMAodzEOyOA"><EM><SPAN><SPAN>Gazeta Wyborcza </span></span></em></a></p> <P><A href="http://www.poland.pl/news/index.htm"><SPAN><SPAN>Poland.pl - news from Poland</span></span></a></p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-sidebox"> <div class="field-label"> Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <P>Krzysztof Bobinski is the president of <EM>Unia &amp; Polska</em>, a pro-European think-tank in Warsaw. He was the Warsaw correspondent of the <EM>Financial Times </em>(1976-2000) and later published <A href="http://www.unia-polska.pl/index.php?id=13"><EM>Unia &amp; Polska </em>magazine</a></p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/krzysztof-bobinski/polands-election-european-lesson">Poland&#039;s election, European lesson </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/krzysztof-bobinski/2012-democracys-challenge">2012, democracy&#039;s challenge</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/faith-catholicchurch/catholicmedia_3450.jsp">Poland&#039;s past and future pope</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/article/globalisation/the_polish_march_students_workers_and_1968">The Polish March: students, workers, and 1968</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/adam-szostkiewicz/poland%E2%80%99s-unique-election">Poland&#039;s unique election</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/krzysztof-bobinski/europes-eastern-question">Europe&#039;s eastern question</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/krzysztof-bobinski/poland-and-climate-change">Poland and climate change</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/krzysztof-bobinski/poland%E2%80%99s-second-katyn-out-of-ashes">Poland’s second Katyń: out of the ashes</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/article/poland_after_pis_handle_with_care">Poland after PiS: handle with care</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/adam-szostkiewicz/poland%E2%80%99s-tragedy-one-year-on">Poland’s tragedy: one year on </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/agnieszka-mrozik/polands-politics-of-abortion">Poland&#039;s politics of abortion</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/adam-j-chmielewski-denis-dutton/poland%E2%80%99s-tragedy-sorrow-and-anger">Poland’s tragedy: sorrow, and anger </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/article/the-polish-summer-1989-a-farewell-salute">The Polish summer, 1989: a farewell salute</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/democracy-protest/poland_2858.jsp">The Polish lifeboat</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/adam-szostkiewicz/poland-1920-and-all-that">Poland: 1920 and all that</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/article/sleepless_in_sczeczin_what_s_the_matter_with_poland">Sleepless in Szczecin: what’s the matter with Poland? </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/conflict-protest/kapuscinski_4286.jsp">Ryszard Kapuscinski: from Poland to the world</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/article/bronislaw-geremek-polish-and-european-liberal">Bronislaw Geremek: Polish and European liberal </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/democracy-protest/poland_church_4237.jsp">Catholic Poland&#039;s anguish</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/faith-aboutfaith/article_2399.jsp">Pope John Paul II and democracy</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Poland </div> <div class="field-item even"> EU </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item even"> International politics </div> </div> </div> EU Poland Democracy and government International politics future of europe democracy & power europe Krzysztof Bobinski Fri, 30 Dec 2011 01:37:46 +0000 Krzysztof Bobinski 63454 at https://www.opendemocracy.net 2012, democracy's challenge https://www.opendemocracy.net/krzysztof-bobinski/2012-democracys-challenge <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> The toppling and scarifying of tyrants has made this an inspiring year. But democracy has to go deeper in the next, says Krzysztof Bobinski. </div> </div> </div> <P>At the end of 2010 it seemed that all that could be done in the face of autocrats who continued to rule supreme was to protest hopelessly at the fate of imprisoned freedom activists. Then, quite unexpectedly, 2011 became the year when a yearning for human dignity turned into mass movements for democracy that toppled tyrants one by one. </p> <P>By the year’s end, even as pundits were predicting authoritarian decades to come in Russia, so demonstrators in Moscow and elsewhere confounded them by turning out to protest fraud in Russia’s parliamentary elections. Even the thaw in Burma brought hope of happy outcomes for that country as well.</p> <P>The late Christopher Hitchens helped explain what is happening in a piece in <EM>Slate</em> early in 2011:</p> <P>"Not long ago, a close comrade of mine was dining with a person who I can't identify beyond telling you that his father is a long-term absolutist ruler of an Arab Muslim state. 'Tell me,' said this scion to my friend, 'is it true that there are now free elections in Albania?' My friend was able to confirm the (relative) truth of this, adding that he had once even acted as an international observer at the Albanian polls and could attest to a certain level of transparency and fairness. The effect of his remarks was galvanic. 'In that case,' exclaimed the heir-presumptive, thumping the table, 'what does that make <EM>us</em>? Are we peasants? Children?' The gloom only deepened, apparently, as the image of the Arab as a laughing stock - lagging behind <EM>Albania</em>! - took hold of the conversation."</p> <P>All this gives grounds for optimism that the world is indeed becoming a better place. But the fear is that the drive for democracy is opening the way to new autocratic regimes which reach for religion or nationalism and the promise of stability (or all at the same time), in order once again to plunge the newly enfranchised citizens into a desperate apathy. </p> <P>Ukraine is a good example. There, the hope of the Orange revolution in 2004 has been frittered away by venal politicians and succeeded by despair at rule by an oligarchy whose sole concern appears to retain power in order to fleece their compatriots with impunity. </p> <P>The challenge of the coming year is that democratic revolts be followed by democratic institutions and procedures which will keep new autocrats at bay. The fear is that the opposite will happen. </p><div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Civil society </div> <div class="field-item even"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item odd"> International politics </div> </div> </div> Civil society Democracy and government International politics the politics of protest democracy & power middle east europe Krzysztof Bobinski Wed, 21 Dec 2011 07:38:41 +0000 Krzysztof Bobinski 63359 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Poland's election, European lesson https://www.opendemocracy.net/krzysztof-bobinski/polands-election-european-lesson <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Poland's competent centre-right government has earned it a popular vote for stability and continuity. But the sharp rise of a minority party reveals a generation's parallel hunger for change, says Krzysztof Bobinski. </div> </div> </div> <P>The result of Poland’s general election on 9 October 2011 appears to show that Poles have taken a mere two decades to <A href="http://www.euronews.net/2011/10/10/tusk-claims-historic-second-term-in-poland-election/">arrive</a> at a stable political system dominated by two parties with predictable policies and without radical extra-parliamentary forces on the fringes.</p> <P>But the sudden rise of the political showman Janusz Palikot, whose "Movement for the Support of Palikot" amassed 10% of votes, suggests that this settlement could be transient. More immediately, it indicates that the leaders of the two main parties, whose origins lie in the anti-communist <A href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/democracy-protest/solidarity_2806.jsp">Solidarity</a> movement, have been ignoring issues which many people in post-1989 Poland see as vital.</p> <P>A host of sober commentators sees the emergence of Palikot as a possibly disruptive development. They recall the political mess of the 1990s when many small parties were represented in parliament, and an alphabet-soup of allies was required to form a governing coalition (a familiar feature of <A href="http://www.poland.pl/news/article,Egyptians_Libyans_and_Tunisians_to_Observe_Elections_in_Poland,id,461798.htm">new</a> democracies, as Tunisia and Egypt now demonstrate).</p> <P>This older generation with memories of those chaotic times was glad to see Donald Tusk, the head of the centre-right Civic Platform (PO), garner 40% of the <A href="http://www.poland.pl/news/article,Unofficial_Election_Results_after_93_Percent_Votes_Counted,id,461840.htm">vote</a> and win a second term - the first time an administration has <A href="http://www.spiegel.de/international/europe/0,1518,790841,00.html">achieved</a> this in Poland. The prime minister's arch-rival Jarosław Kaczyński, leader of the nationalist-traditionalist Law &amp; Justice party (PiS), was stuck at 30%. Kaczyński was undeterred: even on election night he sought to push the pendulum backwards by threatening in four years' time to "turn Warsaw into Budapest" - a none-too-oblique reference to <A href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/anton-pelinka/hungarys-election-and-viktor-orbans-choice">Viktor Orbán</a>, the Hungarian prime minister whose own nationalist-traditionalist Fidesz <A href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/darian-pavli/hungarys-media-reform-trap">dominates</a> his country’s political scene.</p> <P>Kaczynski’s defiant boast masks the key failure of his <A href="http://www.warsawvoice.pl/WVpage/pages/article.php/24049/article">party</a> in this <A href="http://wybory2011.pkw.gov.pl/wyn/en/000000.html#tabs-1">election</a>: to convince the majority of Polish voters that the country needed to turn towards traditional values at home and should be prepared to <A href="http://www.spiegel.de/international/europe/0,1518,790034,00.html">risk</a> a deteriorating relationship with Germany and Russia as the price for "standing up to foreigners".</p> <P>Instead, Poles chose to give the government composed of Donald Tusk’s PO and its coalition partner, the farming-based Polish People’s Party (PSL, which won 8.5%) an <A href="http://www.warsawvoice.pl/WVpage/pages/article.php/18358/news">opportunity</a> for another term. The coalition has <A href="http://www.dw-world.de/dw/article/0,,15448296,00.html">managed</a> to bring the country through economic turbulence and avoid recession. The unfolding eurozine <A href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/ulrike-guerot/germany-beleaguered-european-island">crisis</a> may be followed by other perils. In this situation, most Poles seem to want a "safe pair of hands".</p> <P>All well and good, but if everything is <A href="http://www.worldbank.org.pl/WBSITE/EXTERNAL/COUNTRIES/ECAEXT/POLANDEXTN/0,,contentMDK:20630617~menuPK:304802~pagePK:141137~piPK:141127~theSitePK:304795,00.html">fine</a> then what is wrong? For so many people <A href="http://www.presseurop.eu/en/content/article/1034101-sleepwalkers-versus-wide-awake">felt</a> that the election campaign was plain dull. It lacked memorable controversies as party leaders repeated well rehearsed themes, much as convicts locked up in the same cell do. Indeed, many who turned away from the ruling PO did so because they felt that the party had been content to administer the country for the past four years and not to seek to modernise it in line with its promises. The party might as well have been following the maxim of the first British prime minister, <A href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/historic_figures/walpole_robert.shtml">Robert Walpole</a>: let sleeping dogs lie. At one point the party even told its supporters to stop using the word "reform" as&nbsp;this scared people at a time when the health service is acknowledged to be far from perfect and pension systems are in need of change.</p> <P><STRONG>A fresh current</strong></p> <P>It was in this context that Janusz Palikot, a 47-year-old former entrepreneur, <A href="http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/11/world/europe/polands-palikot-movement-signals-a-changing-society.html">entered</a> the scene. He touched on themes like the legalisation of marihuana which the other established parties were afraid to touch. But by doing so, he showed that there was a <A href="http://www.wbj.pl/blog/From_the_editor/post-312-what-does-palikots-big-win-mean-for-poland.htm">demand</a> for them.</p> <P>Palikot comes from Biłgoraj in eastern Poland, where the great Jewish writer (and Nobel laureate) <A href="http://www.nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/literature/laureates/1978/singer.html">Isaac Bashevis Singer</a> had family roots and lived for four years&nbsp;in his youth during and after the great war.&nbsp;Palikot, a philosophy graduate who then made a fortune out of marketing fizzy wines, entered politics in 2005. He became the head of the PO organisation in Lublin, the nearby provincial capital, and soon became one of Poland’s most recognisable politicians thanks to <EM>risqué</em> publicity-stunts.</p> <P>When the party’s leadership refused to promote him he resigned and established his "Palikot Support Movement". This initially presented a strong anti-clerical platform, but went on to mine voters which the former communist Left Democratic Alliance (SLD) had left behind in its search for respectability. He also highlighted gender issues (his movement has <A href="http://www.wbj.pl/article-56431-polish-parliament-could-have-worlds-only-transsexual-mp.html?typ=wbj">propelled</a> Anna Grodzka, a woman who underwent a sex-change operation, into parliament) and championed gay rights (including gay marriage) which are anathema to the other parties ever wary of the clergy's views. Palikot has steered clear of economic issues though&nbsp;he probably remains loyal to the free-market convictions of the business clan to which he once belonged. He has shown no interest in environmental issues,&nbsp;and is a European federalist.</p> <P>The ragtag army of supporters (gays, <A href="http://www.dw-world.de/dw/article/0,,15441391,00.html">anti-clericals</a> and people simply bored with the political scene) which Janusz Palikot managed to amass has undermined the SLD, maybe terminally. At 8.2% of the vote, the ex-communists' <A href="http://www.wbj.pl/article-56428-napieralski-to-step-down-as-leader-of-sld.html?typ=ise">result</a> is their worst in the history of democratic Poland: lower even than in the (for them) dark days after the transition of power in 1989 when Solidarity was in the ascendant.</p> <P>The Palikot movement, with a healthy forty seats in the 460-member parliament, can broadly be compared to Germany's Greens, if only in its disrespect for the establishment and liberal <A href="http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/10/10/us-poland-election-palikot-idUSTRE79957R20111010">approach</a> to gender issues. It promises to act as a strong lobby for the kind of change in attitudes which the younger <A href="http://www.warsawvoice.pl/WVpage/pages/article.php/24048/article">generation</a> born in the new Poland after 1989 wants to see.</p> <P>The movement comes just in time for <A href="http://go.hrw.com/atlas/norm_htm/poland.htm">Poland</a>, in two senses. It reflects the concerns of young people who, thanks to freedom of travel, are better attuned to the ways of living and thinking of their <EM>confrères</em> in western European countries than their parents and even elder siblings. More importantly, Janusz Palikot represents a hope that Poland will&nbsp;move to&nbsp;become more in tune with social&nbsp;attitudes in Germany, an important neighbour and ally in the European Union of which Poland currently <A href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/krzysztof-bobinski/poland%E2%80%99s-european-infusion">holds</a> the presidency.</p> <P>This has a political dimension, in that it seems likely that Germany's next <A href="http://www.electionguide.org/country.php?ID=82">election</a> in 2013 will bring a Social Democratic-Green coalition to power, reflecting a major shift towards more liberal lifestyles. Poland’s ex-communists are in decline and the country's Green party is tiny. Majority opinion in Poland regards the fight against <A href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/krzysztof-bobinski/poland-and-climate-change">climate change</a> as a plot to destroy the country, whereas in Germany (as in Sweden) there is a cross-party consensus on the <A href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-hockenos/germany%E2%80%99s-nuclear-endgame-lessons"><SPAN><SPAN>issue</span></span></a>. Most of Poland’s establishment still take their cue on gender issues from the Catholic clergy; Germans are much less concerned. In a word, a gulf is appearing between the two countries. The change in attitudes Janusz Palikot promises will hopefully serve to bridge it.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <P><EM>Unia &amp; Polska</em>, a pro-European think-tank in Warsaw. He was the Warsaw correspondent of the <EM>Financial Times </em>(1976-2000) and later published <A href="http://www.unia-polska.pl/index.php?id=13"><EM>Unia &amp; Polska </em>magazine</a></p> <P>Among Krzysztof Bobinski's articles in <STRONG>openDemocracy</strong>:</p> <P><A href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/node/1878">"Poland’s nervous 'return' to Europe"</a> (28 April 2004)</p> <P><A href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/node/3737">"Poland's populist caravan"</a> (13 July 2006)</p> <P>"<A href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/node/4038">Hungary's 1956, central Europe's 2006: beyond illusion</a>"&nbsp;(26 October 2006)</p> <P>"<A href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/node/4456">European unity: reality and myth</a>" (21 March 2007)</p> <P><A href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/node/35001">"Poland’s generational shift" </a>&nbsp;(1 November 2007)</p> <P>"<A href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/article/the-caucasus-effect-europe-unblocked">The Caucasus effect: Europe unblocked</a>" (16 September 2008)</p> <UL class="articles"> <LI> <DIV class="title">"<A href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/node/47206">Poland: the politics of history" </a>(24 January 2009)</div> <UL class="articles"> <LI> <DIV class="title">"<A href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/node/47469">Europe between past and future</a>" (9 March 2009)</div></li> <LI>"<A href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/node/48096">The Polish summer, 1989: a farewell salute</a>" (2 June 2009)</li></ul></li></ul> <UL class="articles"> <LI> <DIV class="title">"<A href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/krzysztof-bobinski/poland%E2%80%99s-second-katyn-out-of-ashes">Poland's second Katyn: out of the ashes</a>" (13 April 2010)</div></li> <LI>"<A href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/krzysztof-bobinski/poland-and-climate-change">Poland and climate change</a>" (14 December 2010)</li> <LI>"<A href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/krzysztof-bobinski/poland%E2%80%99s-european-infusion">Poland's European infusion</a>" (13 July 2011)</li> <LI>"<A href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/krzysztof-bobinski/europes-eastern-question">Europe's eastern question</a>" (29 September 2011)</li></ul> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-sidebox"> <div class="field-label"> Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <P><A href="http://wybory2011.pkw.gov.pl/wyn/en/000000.html#tabs-1">Poland - election 2011</a></p> <P><A href="http://www.warsawvoice.pl/WVpage/pages/index.php"><EM>The Warsaw Voice</em></a></p> <P>Jerzy Lukowski &amp; Hubert Zawadzki, <A href="http://www.cambridge.org/uk/catalogue/catalogue.asp?isbn=9780521853323"><EM>A Concise History of Poland</em></a> (Cambridge University Press, 2006)</p> <P><EM><A href="http://www.wbj.pl/index.html">Warsaw Business Journal</a></em></p> <P><A href="http://pl2011.eu/en">Poland's European Union presidency, July-December 2011</a></p> <P>Neal Ascherson, <A href="http://www.halat.pl/poland.html"><EM>The Struggles for Poland </em></a></p> <P><A href="http://www.polishculture.org.uk/">Polish Cultural Institute</a>, London</p> <P><A href="http://www.gazetawyborcza.pl/0,82049.html?adw=1&amp;gclid=CKrCtp7IiY4CFQdRMAodzEOyOA"><EM>Gazeta Wyborcza </em></a></p> <P><A href="http://www.poland.pl/news/index.htm">Poland.pl - news from Poland</a></p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/adam-szostkiewicz/poland%E2%80%99s-unique-election">Poland&#039;s unique election</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/adam-szostkiewicz/poland-1920-and-all-that">Poland: 1920 and all that</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/article/sleepless_in_sczeczin_what_s_the_matter_with_poland">Sleepless in Szczecin: what’s the matter with Poland? </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/article/poland_after_pis_handle_with_care">Poland after PiS: handle with care</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/democracy-protest/ironic_2963.jsp">The Polish autumn</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/democracy-protest/solidarity_2806.jsp">The victory and defeat of Solidarnosc</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/article/the_polish_dictionary">The Polish dictionary</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/democracy-protest/poland_2858.jsp">The Polish lifeboat</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/article/globalisation/the_polish_march_students_workers_and_1968">The Polish March: students, workers, and 1968</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/democracy-protest/minefield_2863.jsp">The Polish minefield</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/democracy-protest/poland_marches_3990.jsp">Poland marches: the people sound the alarm</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/adam-j-chmielewski-denis-dutton/poland%E2%80%99s-tragedy-sorrow-and-anger">Poland’s tragedy: sorrow, and anger </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/adam-szostkiewicz/poland%E2%80%99s-tragedy-one-year-on">Poland’s tragedy: one year on </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/democracy-protest/poland_church_4237.jsp">Catholic Poland&#039;s anguish</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/faith-aboutfaith/article_2399.jsp">Pope John Paul II and democracy</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/conflict-protest/kapuscinski_4286.jsp">Ryszard Kapuscinski: from Poland to the world</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/article/leszek-kolakowski-1927-2009-a-life-of-courage">Leszek Kolakowski, 1927-2009: a master figure</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/article/bronislaw-geremek-polish-and-european-liberal">Bronislaw Geremek: Polish and European liberal </a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Poland </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item even"> International politics </div> </div> </div> Poland Democracy and government International politics future of europe democracy & power europe Krzysztof Bobinski Tue, 11 Oct 2011 06:31:03 +0000 Krzysztof Bobinski 61987 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Europe's eastern question https://www.opendemocracy.net/krzysztof-bobinski/europes-eastern-question <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Poland is hosting a summit on 29-30 September 2011 that seeks to strengthen the European Union's relationship with its eastern neighbours. The great events in the Arab world reinforce the timeliness of the effort. But the larger uncertainties over the union's future may delay real progress, says Krzysztof Bobinski. </div> </div> </div> <P>The European Union's intense focus on the <A href="http://www.ecb.int/euro/intro/html/map.en.html">eurozone</a>'s financial crisis has tended to deflect attention from other important if less high-profile questions. One such is the EU's approach towards its eastern neighbours, which is a priority of Poland's <A href="http://pl2011.eu/en">presidency</a> of the union in the second half of 2011 (see "<A href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/krzysztof-bobinski/poland%E2%80%99s-european-infusion">Poland's European infusion</a>", 13 July 2011).</p> <P>So far, achieving a common EU "neighbourhood policy" has proved hard. In part this is because the union's new diplomatic machinery set up under the reformed constitutional <A href="http://europa.eu/lisbon_treaty/index_en.htm">treaty</a> (the "European External Action Service" [<A href="http://www.eeas.europa.eu/background/index_en.htm">EEAS</a>]) has made a slow start. In part it reflects differences of view between member-states; there appears to be little progress on a unified approach to the southern Mediterranean rim, and the great <A href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/vidar-helgesen/arab-democracy-rising-international-lessons">events</a> of 2011 in north Africa and the middle east have revealed splits among leading EU states (for example, between Germany and France over <A href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/vidar-helgesen/arab-democracy-rising-international-lessons">Libya</a>).</p> <P>Such difficulties in policy towards the east make this a delicate moment for a summit being <A href="http://pl2011.eu/en/content/eastern-partnership-summit-warsaw">held</a> in Warsaw on 29-30 September, midway through Poland's EU presidency. The summit is devoted to a scheme called the Eastern Partnership which focuses on relations between the EU and six former republics of the Soviet Union (Belarus, Ukraine, Moldova, Georgia, Azerbaijan and Armenia). The summit is likely to show that many EU member-states are retreating from the challenges the <A href="http://www.eeas.europa.eu/eastern/index_en.htm">region</a> poses - though as much from a lack of interest as out of fear of the problems which change might bring.</p> <P>The EU has long had projects facing south that have been pushed mainly by its own southern states such as Italy and Spain, as well as Greece. First there was the <A href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/globalization/barcelona_3019.jsp">Barcelona Process</a> initiated in the mid-1990s and then the Mediterranean Union, a <A href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/article/the-mediterranean-union-or-europe-s-bad-examples">grandiose</a> plan dreamed up by Nicolas Sarkozy and <A href="http://www.emwis.net/initiatives/mediterranean-union">launched</a> in 2008. Both seem to have got nowhere.</p> <P>But the&nbsp; <A href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/7504214.stm"><SPAN><SPAN>Mediterranean Union</span></span></a>&nbsp;did give Donald Tusk, Poland’s prime minister, the <A href="http://www.warsawvoice.pl/WVpage/pages/article.php/18068/article">idea</a> of an "Eastern Partnership" - a plan to promote stability, democratic reform and better governance in six post-Soviet states. Sweden backed the idea, and the project was born in May 2009 with a modest <A href="http://euobserver.com/24/27824">budget</a> (€600 million [$800m]&nbsp;for 2010-13) for bilateral and multilateral reform programmes and the promise of an EU summit on the subject once every two years (see "<A href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/article/idea/the-partnership-principle-europe-democracy-and-the-east">The partnership principle: Europe, democracy, and the east</a>", 22 April 2009).</p> <P>That is the story so far. The Poles, <A href="http://euobserver.com/895/32347">hosts</a> of the summit, are confident that attendance by EU leaders will be more impressive than the turnout for the first partnership <A href="http://www.eubusiness.com/news-eu/1239039121.67/">gathering</a> in Prague in 2009. Then, Angela Merkel was the only leader of the big EU states who bothered to go. This time the German chancellor is firmly pencilled in, while France will be represented by its prime minister Francois Fillon. Despite Britain's declared strong commitment to the east, its premier David Cameron will be busy elsewhere, though his pro-European deputy and coalition partner <A href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-15102436">Nick Clegg</a> will be present. George Papandreou, the Greek prime minister, will be there (after a visit to Berlin to discuss financial problems with <A href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/ulrike-guerot/germany-beleaguered-european-island">Angela Merkel</a>). Silvio Berlusconi, the Italian premier, is otherwise <A href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/geoff-andrews/italy-beyond-berlusconi-normal-solution">occupied</a>, so foreign minister Franco Frattini will carry the country’s flag.</p> <P>All in all, the size and standing of the EU summitteers justify the Poles in a sigh of relief. The only absentee among the eastern partners will be Alexander Łukasenko of Belarus, whose repressive domestic <A href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/natalia-leshchenko/belarus-paralysis-and-reinvention">policies</a> have made him <EM>persona non grata</em>. Viktor Yanukovych, the president of Ukraine, will be <A href="http://www.kyivpost.com/news/politics/detail/113712/">there</a> despite&nbsp;the&nbsp;<A href="http://www.kyivpost.com/news/politics/detail/113750/">prosecution</a> of his chief political rival, Yulia Tymoshenko. And it is Ukraine which symbolises all the paradoxes and contradictions of the partnership programme: for the programme is aimed at dealing with leaders while urging on them rule-of-law reforms that, if implemented, would spell their inevitable demise.</p> <P><STRONG>A shaft of light</strong></p> <P>Ukraine is currently in the final stages of <A href="http://eeas.europa.eu/ukraine/index_en.htm">negotiating</a> an "association agreement" with the European Union, which might be a step on the road to accession at some point in the future. The EU member-states, acting with a surprising degree of unity, are making it clear that even if the agreement is signed it stands little chance of being ratified as long as Yulia Tymoshenko <A href="http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5hihQdNKZAsnF7vL9nCaUH9wxtkLw?docId=CNG.b40d4ab5f50c30b388f02c535706e2cc.6b1">stays</a> in jail (or is excluded from taking part in future elections). Moreover, some of Viktor Yanukovych's European critics say that he intends to build a full-scale autocracy in Ukraine and rollback the democratic <A href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/article/democracy_power/ukrainians_citizens">gains</a> of the Orange revolution of 2004, and don't want to see him at the Warsaw summit at all - let alone to sign an association agreement with him.</p> <P>By contrast, others argue that while Yanukovych may be imperfect he appears to want to get closer to the EU, and that diminishes Russian influence over Kiev. The Polish government, usually a champion of human rights in the east, appears to be in this latter camp, and is ready to tone down its criticism of Yanukovych. Sweden, a <A href="http://www.cria-online.org/7_3.html">co-author</a> of the Eastern Partnership programme, is keeping its head down. Indeed, Stockholm appears to have lost some of its enthusiasm for the project.</p> <P>The fact that the EU is so much involved with trying to solve its financial problems is no help to <A href="http://europa.eu/rapid/pressReleasesAction.do?reference=IP/08/1858&amp;for-mat=PDF&amp;aged=0&amp;language=EN&amp;guiLanguage=en%209">progress</a> on the eastern flank. As early as the mid-1990s the late British historian <A href="http://www.independent.co.uk/news/obituaries/tony-judt-celebrated-academic-and-historian-of-modern-europe-who-remained-eloquent-in-the-face-of-devastating-illness-2046994.html">Tony Judt</a>, in an essay called&nbsp;<EM><A href="http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/1996/jul/11/europe-the-grand-illusion/">Europe: The&nbsp;Grand Illusion</a></em>, identified growing economic problems and resistance to immigration as factors which could stop further enlargement. He was wrong in the shorter term, in that in 2004 the EU did successfully enlarge by ten states, including seven former Soviet-bloc ones (the largest being Poland). But he may have been right in the longer term, in that the EU’s appetite for more new members appears to have been sated.</p> <P>The more reformist Eastern Partnership states (such as Moldova) are arguing that the <A href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/katinka-barysch/eastern-europes-great-game">terms</a> of the project should be changed to include a direct promise of accession. This appears to be unlikely for the moment. Negotiations on the summit declaration show Germany among the countries resistant to any mention of a guaranteed European future for the partnership states. The <A href="http://euobserver.com/24/113696">formula</a> which may find its way into the document is an acknowledgment of the "European aspirations" of the states (for example, <A href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/ghia-nodia/georgian-democracy-three-rows-and-lesson">Georgia</a>, Ukraine and Moldova) which seek eventual EU membership.</p> <P>Where does this leave the <A href="http://enpi-info.eu/maineast.php?id=26510&amp;id_type=1&amp;lang_id=450"><SPAN><SPAN>Eastern Partnership</span></span></a>? A policy document of the European <A href="http://ec.europa.eu/index_en.htm">commission</a> released in May 2011 seems to imply that in future the EU should pay more attention to relations with civil society in the east. This is surely sensible, as it is the NGOs which are potentially the most potent force for reform in the area. The commission endorses a <A href="http://belfercenter.ksg.harvard.edu/publication/20958/polish_foreign_minister.html">proposal</a> to establish a European Endowment for Democracy, which would support democratic initiatives. It also suggests that links should indeed be <A href="http://www.europeanvoice.com/article/imported/eu-promises-more-money-to-bolster-democracy/71166.aspx">developed</a> with non-state actors alongside contacts with governments and administrations; and that progress on reforms by the various states should be rewarded with increased financial support.</p> <P>This is a sliver of new thinking compared to the very statist approach adopted at the beginning of the Eastern Partnership scheme. It probably reflects the influence of the popular <A href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/david-hayes/arab-spring-protest-power-prospect">uprisings</a> of 2011 in north Africa and the middle east, which show that even authoritarian regimes can fall surprisingly fast. The same could be true of eastern Europe where stability might prove illusory. In that sense the European Union must continue to focus more on the eastern <A href="http://ec.europa.eu/world/enp/index_en.htm">neighbourhood</a>.</p> <P>A big doubt remains, however, over whether the EU is emotionally ready to countenance accepting new members from the east. The answer for the moment is no. As long as that is the case, <A href="http://www.ip-global.org/2011/08/29/how-to-influence-neighbors/">projects</a> like the&nbsp;Eastern Partnership&nbsp;will continue to tread water, much to the frustration of countries like Poland which would like to see more progress on promoting real stability in the eastern neighbourhood.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <P><A href="http://pl2011.eu/en"><SPAN><SPAN>Poland's European Union presidency, July-December 2011</span></span></a></p> <P><A href="http://www.eeas.europa.eu/background/index_en.htm">European External Action Service</a></p> <P>Neal Ascherson, <A href="http://www.halat.pl/poland.html"><EM><SPAN><SPAN>The Struggles for Poland </span></span></em></a></p> <P><A href="http://www.warsawvoice.pl/WVpage/pages/index.php"><EM>The Warsaw Voice</em></a></p> <P>Jana Kobzova, Nicu Popescu &amp; Andrew Wilson, "<A href="http://www.ip-global.org/2011/08/29/how-to-influence-neighbors/">How to influence neighbors</a>"&nbsp;(<EM>IP Global</em>, September-October 2011)</p> <P>Jerzy Lukowski &amp; Hubert Zawadzki, <A href="http://www.cambridge.org/uk/catalogue/catalogue.asp?isbn=9780521853323"><EM>A Concise History of Poland</em></a> (Cambridge University Press, 2006)</p> <P><A href="http://www.polishculture.org.uk/">Polish Cultural Institute</a>, London</p> <P><A href="http://www.gazetawyborcza.pl/0,82049.html?adw=1&amp;gclid=CKrCtp7IiY4CFQdRMAodzEOyOA"><EM>Gazeta Wyborcza </em></a></p> <P><EM><A href="http://euobserver.com/">EU Observer</a></em></p> <P><A href="http://www.poland.pl/news/index.htm">Poland.pl - news from Poland</a></p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-sidebox"> <div class="field-label"> Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <P>Krzysztof Bobinski is the president of <EM>Unia &amp; Polska</em>, a pro-European think-tank in Warsaw. He was the Warsaw correspondent of the <EM>Financial Times </em>(1976-2000) and later published <A href="http://www.unia-polska.pl/index.php?id=13"><EM>Unia &amp; Polska </em>magazine</a></p> <P>Among Krzysztof Bobinski's articles in <STRONG>openDemocracy</strong>:</p> <P><A href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/node/1878">"Poland’s nervous 'return' to Europe"</a> (28 April 2004)</p> <P><A href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/node/3737">"Poland's populist caravan"</a> (13 July 2006)</p> <P>"<A href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/node/4038">Hungary's 1956, central Europe's 2006: beyond illusion</a>"&nbsp;(26 October 2006)</p> <P>"<A href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/node/4456">European unity: reality and myth</a>" (21 March 2007)</p> <P><A href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/node/35001">"Poland’s generational shift" </a>&nbsp;(1 November 2007)</p> <P>"<A href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/article/the-caucasus-effect-europe-unblocked">The Caucasus effect: Europe unblocked</a>" (16 September 2008)</p> <UL class="articles"> <LI> <DIV class="title">"<A href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/node/47206">Poland: the politics of history" </a>(24 January 2009)</div> <UL class="articles"> <LI> <DIV class="title">"<A href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/node/47469">Europe between past and future</a>" (9 March 2009)</div></li> <LI>"<A href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/node/48096">The Polish summer, 1989: a farewell salute</a>" (2 June 2009)</li></ul></li> <LI> <UL class="articles"> <LI> <DIV class="title">"<A href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/krzysztof-bobinski/poland%E2%80%99s-second-katyn-out-of-ashes">Poland's second Katyn: out of the ashes</a>" (13 April 2010)</div></li> <LI>"<A href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/krzysztof-bobinski/poland-and-climate-change">Poland and climate change</a>" (14 December 2010)</li> <LI>"<A href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/krzysztof-bobinski/poland%E2%80%99s-european-infusion">Poland's Euopean infusion</a>" (13 July 2011)</li></ul></li></ul> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/article/poland-the-future-s-past">Poland: the politics of history </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/adam-szostkiewicz/poland%E2%80%99s-unique-election">Poland&#039;s unique election</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/krzysztof-bobinski/poland-and-climate-change">Poland and climate change</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/article/sleepless_in_sczeczin_what_s_the_matter_with_poland">Sleepless in Szczecin: what’s the matter with Poland? </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/democracy-protest/ironic_2963.jsp">The Polish autumn</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/the_polish_confusion">The Polish confusion</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/article/the_polish_dictionary">The Polish dictionary</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/democracy-protest/poland_2858.jsp">The Polish lifeboat</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/democracy-protest/minefield_2863.jsp">The Polish minefield</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/article/poland_after_pis_handle_with_care">Poland after PiS: handle with care</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/democracy-protest/poland_marches_3990.jsp">Poland marches: the people sound the alarm</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/article/globalisation/the_polish_march_students_workers_and_1968">The Polish March: students, workers, and 1968</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/article/the-polish-summer-1989-a-farewell-salute">The Polish summer, 1989: a farewell salute</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/krzysztof-bobinski/poland%E2%80%99s-european-infusion">Poland’s European infusion</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/democracy-protest/solidarity_2806.jsp">The victory and defeat of Solidarnosc</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/adam-j-chmielewski-denis-dutton/poland%E2%80%99s-tragedy-sorrow-and-anger">Poland’s tragedy: sorrow, and anger </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/adam-szostkiewicz/poland%E2%80%99s-tragedy-one-year-on">Poland’s tragedy: one year on </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/democracy-protest/poland_church_4237.jsp">Catholic Poland&#039;s anguish</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/faith-aboutfaith/article_2399.jsp">Pope John Paul II and democracy</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/article/poland_s_generational_shift">Poland’s generational shift </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/conflict-protest/kapuscinski_4286.jsp">Ryszard Kapuscinski: from Poland to the world</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/article/leszek-kolakowski-1927-2009-a-life-of-courage">Leszek Kolakowski, 1927-2009: a master figure</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/article/leszek-kolakowski-thinker-for-our-time-0">Leszek Kolakowski: thinker for our time</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/article/bronislaw-geremek-polish-and-european-liberal">Bronislaw Geremek: Polish and European liberal </a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Poland </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item even"> International politics </div> </div> </div> Poland Democracy and government International politics future of europe democracy & power europe Krzysztof Bobinski Thu, 29 Sep 2011 06:19:31 +0000 Krzysztof Bobinski 61685 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Poland’s European infusion https://www.opendemocracy.net/krzysztof-bobinski/poland%E2%80%99s-european-infusion <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> The six-month Polish presidency of the European Union starts with a welcome dose of optimism from its prime minister. Now for the hard part, says Krzysztof Bobinski. </div> </div> </div> <P>There’s nothing like a soothing hand to calm a fevered brow. This is what in effect Donald Tusk, the Polish prime minister, offered when in the European parliament on 6 July 2011 he introduced his country’s programme for its six-month <A href="http://pl2011.eu/en">presidency</a> of the European Union. During this period, Warsaw will be coordinating much of the work of the European council (the complex of member-states's gatherings, which - along with the <A href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/article/the-european-parliament-problem-and-solution">parliament</a> and the European <A href="http://ec.europa.eu/index_en.htm">commission</a> - is one of the EU’s three governing institutions).</p> <P>Tusk's <A href="http://pl2011.eu/en/content/prime-minister-european-parliament-europe-needs-more-solidarity">speech</a> was short on detail and long on optimism about the European Union’s prospects - and it was exactly what <A href="http://www.wbj.pl/article-55247-tusk-praised-and-criticized-in-strasbourg.html">most</a> of the listeners in the Strasbourg chamber wanted to hear.</p> <P>How refreshing to hear a national leader say that the EU was “the best place on earth”, one to which people seek to migrate to and not escape from. How refreshing to hear a national leader say that the <A href="http://www.warsawvoice.pl/WVpage/pages/article.php/23707/article">response</a> to the current economic crisis in the EU should be <EM>more</em> Europe and not less, at a time when so many European leaders are pandering to powerful nationalist and populist sentiments and stressing national interests above all.</p> <P>The speech was praised by the leaders of the main political groups in the European parliament - the pro-business Christian Democrats, the Socialists and the Liberals, as well as the Greens. In the <A href="http://www.europolitics.info/institutions/in-strasbourg-tusk-gets-round-of-applause-art309257-39.html">reaction</a> was a touch of relief: at a time when the peoples of western Europe are increasingly wondering what the European Union is for, Tusk’s address showed that the <A href="http://europa.eu/abc/maps/index_en.htm">member-states</a> of the big enlargement of 2004 can bring a degree of uplift to a battered continent.</p> <P>It is a mere seven years since that day in May 2004 when the Poles and nine other east-central and southern European states joined the EU. The majority (Poland, Hungary, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, as well as Slovenia, Malta and Cyprus) were recent escapees from the Soviet bloc; their entry marked the fulfilment of promises of membership made by the western European when the “iron curtain” was still in place and expansion to the east seemed an unlikely prospect. At the time they entered the fold - to be followed in January 2007 by <A href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/article/europe-s-other-legitimacy-crisis">Bulgaria</a> and <A href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/tom-gallagher/romania-and-europe-entrapped-decade">Romania</a>, taking the union to its current twenty-seven members - the new arrivals were seen in western European capitals as a risky prospect. Would they cope with the single market, would they respect EU rules, would they disrupt the governance of the project?</p> <P>Only the most gifted of prophets could in 2004-07 have predicted that by 2011 the union would be consumed with worry about Greece, Portugal, Spain and Ireland (and now, <A href="http://www.smh.com.au/world/italy-teeters-on-edge-of-escalating-debt-crisis-20110713-1he6g.html">Italy</a>); and that it would fall to <EM>Poland’s</em> prime minister to reassure European representatives by putting current troubles into historical perspective and <A href="http://www.wbj.pl/article-55303-polands-presidency-taking-control-of-european-policy.html">declaring</a> that the European project does indeed have a future.</p> <P><STRONG>The real division</strong></p> <P>A speech is of course only that, and it remains to be seen how the Poles will deliver on the hopes which <A href="http://www.premier.gov.pl/premier/donald_tusk/">Donald Tusk</a> raised. But rhetoric can be important, and his proposals suggest that the (now) not-so-new member-states are becoming the anchors for a European project once determinedly promoted by the Germans and the French above all.</p> <P>For it is the economies of the new member-states which have <A href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/article/europe-s-eastern-crisis-the-reality-test">proved</a> more resilient in the <A href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/article/europe-between-past-and-future">face</a> of the crisis, and their peoples have been more willing to make sacrifices to avert economic disaster.&nbsp;<A href="http://www.iie.com/staff/author_bio.cfm?author_id=455">Anders Aslund</a> has written: “All the crisis countries in eastern Europe undertook heroic fiscal adjustment programmes. They cut public expenditures, public wages and social transfers while launching difficult structural reforms in health care and education. Many Western observers claimed that such big expenditure adjustments would be politically and socially impossible. They worried about regime change and collapse of democracy…” (see <A href="http://bookstore.piie.com/book-store/5218.html"><EM>The Last Shall Be the First: The East European Financial Crisis</em></a> [Peterson Institute for International Economics, October 2010]).</p> <P>It seems that a cleavage inside the EU does persist following the <A href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/7529750.stm">enlargements</a> of 2004 and 2007 - but that that the core division is not, as it was expected to be, between developed and underdeveloped states. Rather, it is between those who feel that being in the EU is worthwhile and those who are decreasingly aware of what the union means and was intended to achieve. If <A href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/article/latvia-s-crisis-between-sweden-and-europe">Latvians</a> or <A href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/anton-pelinka/hungarys-election-and-viktor-orbans-choice">Hungarians</a> (for example) have been ready to accept cuts without serious protests, the implication is that this is largely attributable to the collective memory of the chaos and the debilitating shortages in the shops which the communist economy actually delivered.</p> <P>The schism is reinforced by the differential attitudes of western and eastern Europeans towards security. The European Union, along with Nato, brought security to western Europeans before 1989, but the removal of the Soviet threat leaves citizens in the west unclear about why these institutions are still needed. But for their eastern counterparts, Russia remains unpredictable and the EU as much as Nato is seen as the best insurance policy against any reruns of the past (see Katinka Barysch, "<A href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/katinka-barysch/eastern-europes-great-game">Eastern Europe's great game</a>", 20 July 2010).</p> <P>The value of the EU is felt in eastern Europe in the domestic as well as the international arena, for it is seen to represent the final stage of processes - the modernising of governance and the completion of market reforms - which put a definitive end to the old communist system. There is a substantial financial interest here, in that significant amounts of EU aid funds have (especially where Poland is concerned) consolidated <A href="http://www.warsawvoice.pl/WVpage/pages/article.php/23570/article">pro-union</a> sentiment. This is a region where Brussels is seen as a force for modernisation, and the EU as bringing (as Donald Tusk told the European parliament) freedom, prosperity and a better life.</p> <P><STRONG>The Warsaw concerto</strong></p> <P>A European presidency has to balance a range of interests, now too in the context of the EU’s reformed institutional framework where foreign-policy responsibilities are shared with the European council’s <A href="http://www.european-council.europa.eu/the-president.aspx">president</a> (Herman van Rompuy) and foreign-affairs <A href="http://www.consilium.europa.eu/policies/council-configurations/foreign-affairs/high-representative-of-the-union-for-foreign-affairs-and-security-policy.aspx?lang=en">high representative</a> (Catherine Ashton). In this respect Donald Tusk was artful in expressing Poland’s national concerns in a European <A href="http://www.sofiaecho.com/2011/07/08/1119525_warsaws-european-concerto">frame</a> of reference rather than via special pleading for Warsaw’s interest. For example, Poland has a vital stake in maintaining the <A href="http://blogs.ft.com/beyond-brics/2011/01/04/poland-eu-funds-lure-foreign-companies/#axzz1S1V4Vgro">flow</a> of EU aid under the union’s regional policy, a policy Tusk defended as a system where countries get aid now so that they will be able to contribute to the development of others in the future.</p> <P>The prime minister was also clear that any dismantling of the visa-free <A href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-13194723">Schengen</a> travel system - presaged by Denmark’s <A href="http://www.eubusiness.com/news-eu/denmark-trade.b2b">decision</a> to re-establish border controls - endangers the single market which Poland during its presidency will want to underpin and extend. In addition he talked more of the promise of democracy in north Africa and the middle east than of the EU’s <A href="http://ec.europa.eu/world/enp/policy_en.htm">neighbourhood policy</a> in the east, even though the latter is a pet Polish subject; this was a signal to southern Europeans such as Italy and Spain of Poland’s intention to pursue an <A href="http://www.nytimes.com/2011/07/13/business/global/eu-leaders-to-hold-emergency-meeting-over-greece.html">even-handed</a> approach. And he skipped any mention of the <A href="http://pl2011.eu/en/content/climate-change-main-topic-meeting-european-ministers-environment">issue</a> of climate change, where Poland is determined to fight for what it sees as its national interest in limiting costly and damaging measures (see "<A href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/krzysztof-bobinski/poland-and-climate-change">Poland and climate change</a>", 14 December 2010).</p> <P>Again, there is only so much that an EU presidency can do, especially when it lasts only until 31 December 2011 and the first two of those (the <A href="http://www.ecb.int/euro/intro/html/map.en.html">eurozone</a> crisis permitting) will coincide with summer holidays across the continent. There is no shortage of political voices (such as among Britain’s eurosceptics) chanting the mantra that the EU is a “failed project” and demanding that integration be rolled back rather than <A href="http://www.voanews.com/english/news/europe/Polands-EU-Presidency-to-Focus-on-Integration-and-Expansion--124963404.html">extended</a>, or journalistic ones cautioning Poland (“which sees its first-ever presidency as a step in the renaissance of a martyred nation”) against excessive ambition (see “<A href="http://www.economist.com/node/18928668">The view from the Vistula</a>”, <EM>Economist</em>, 7 July 2011).&nbsp;</p> <P>Whatever the outcome, there is every chance that the organisation of the presidency will be handled smoothly by the Poles. The entire programme has been prepared by a team of young officials headed by <A href="http://www.msz.gov.pl/Mikolaj,Dowgielewicz,Secretary,of,State,for,European,affairs,and,economic,policy,37706.html">Mikołaj Dowgielewicz</a>, a deputy foreign minister who has worked in the European parliament and was originally talent-spotted by the late <A href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/article/bronislaw-geremek-polish-and-european-liberal">Bronisław Geremek</a> during his term (1997-2000) as foreign minister.</p> <P>The team is composed of people who have been involved with EU affairs since before Poland <A href="http://www.civitas.org.uk/eufacts/FSMS/MS10.htm">joined</a> in 2004. They are the advance-guard of a forward-looking generation which should soon be running the country.&nbsp;In the shorter term, they are well equipped to represent a pro-European Poland which will represent the Euro-optimists in a currently dispirited EU. And if Europe needs anything in the second half of 2011, it is surely optimism.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <P><A href="http://pl2011.eu/en">Poland's European Union presidency, July-December 2011</a></p> <P>Neal Ascherson, <A href="http://www.halat.pl/poland.html"><EM>The Struggles for Poland </em></a></p> <P>Anders Aslund, <A href="http://bookstore.piie.com/book-store/5218.html"><EM>The Last Shall Be the First: The East European Financial Crisis</em></a> (Peterson Institute for International Economics, October 2010)</p> <P><A href="http://www.warsawvoice.pl/WVpage/pages/index.php"><EM>The Warsaw Voice</em></a></p> <P>Jerzy Lukowski &amp; Hubert Zawadzki, <A href="http://www.cambridge.org/uk/catalogue/catalogue.asp?isbn=9780521853323"><EM>A Concise History of Poland</em></a> (Cambridge University Press, 2006)</p> <P><A href="http://www.polishculture.org.uk/">Polish Cultural Institute</a>, London</p> <P><A href="http://www.gazetawyborcza.pl/0,82049.html?adw=1&amp;gclid=CKrCtp7IiY4CFQdRMAodzEOyOA"><EM>Gazeta Wyborcza </em></a></p> <P><A href="http://www.poland.pl/news/index.htm">Poland.pl - news from Poland</a></p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-sidebox"> <div class="field-label"> Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <P>Krzysztof Bobinski is the president of <EM>Unia &amp; Polska</em>, a pro-European think-tank in Warsaw. He was the Warsaw correspondent of the <EM>Financial Times </em>(1976-2000) and later published <A href="http://www.unia-polska.pl/index.php?id=13"><EM>Unia &amp; Polska </em>magazine</a></p> <P>Among Krzysztof Bobinski's articles in <STRONG>openDemocracy</strong>:</p> <P><A href="node/1878">"Poland’s nervous 'return' to Europe"</a> (28 April 2004)</p> <P><A href="node/3737">"Poland's populist caravan"</a> (13 July 2006)</p> <P>"<A href="node/4038">Hungary's 1956, central Europe's 2006: beyond illusion</a>"&nbsp;(26 October 2006)</p> <P>"<A href="node/4456">European unity: reality and myth</a>" (21 March 2007)</p> <P><A href="node/35001">"Poland’s generational shift" </a>&nbsp;(1 November 2007)</p> <P>"<A href="article/the-caucasus-effect-europe-unblocked">The Caucasus effect: Europe unblocked</a>" (16 September 2008)</p> <UL class="articles"> <LI> <DIV class="title">"<A href="node/47206">Poland: the politics of history" </a>(24 January 2009)</div> <UL class="articles"> <LI> <DIV class="title">"<A href="node/47469">Europe between past and future</a>" (9 March 2009)</div></li> <LI>"<A href="node/48096">The Polish summer, 1989: a farewell salute</a>" (2 June 2009)</li></ul></li></ul> <UL class="articles"> <LI> <UL class="articles"> <LI> <UL class="articles"> <LI> <UL class="articles"> <LI> <DIV class="title">"<A href="krzysztof-bobinski/poland%E2%80%99s-second-katyn-out-of-ashes">Poland's second Katyn: out of the ashes</a>" (13 April 2010)</div></li> <LI>"<A href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/krzysztof-bobinski/poland-and-climate-change">Poland and climate change</a>" (14 December 2010)</li></ul></li></ul></li></ul></li></ul> <P>&nbsp;</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/democracy-protest/solidarity_2806.jsp">The victory and defeat of Solidarnosc</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/democracy-protest/poland_2858.jsp">The Polish lifeboat</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/democracy-protest/ironic_2963.jsp">The Polish autumn</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/the_polish_confusion">The Polish confusion</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/article/the_polish_dictionary">The Polish dictionary</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/article/the-polish-summer-1989-a-farewell-salute">The Polish summer, 1989: a farewell salute</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/democracy-protest/poland_church_4237.jsp">Catholic Poland&#039;s anguish</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/article/poland_after_pis_handle_with_care">Poland after PiS: handle with care</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/article/the-polish-summer-1989-a-farewell-salute">The Polish summer, 1989: a farewell salute</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/article/sleepless_in_sczeczin_what_s_the_matter_with_poland">Sleepless in Szczecin: what’s the matter with Poland? </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/conflict-protest/kapuscinski_4286.jsp">Ryszard Kapuscinski: from Poland to the world</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/article/leszek-kolakowski-1927-2009-a-life-of-courage">Leszek Kolakowski, 1927-2009: a master figure</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/adam-szostkiewicz/poland%E2%80%99s-tragedy-one-year-on">Poland’s tragedy: one year on </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/adam-j-chmielewski-denis-dutton/poland%E2%80%99s-tragedy-sorrow-and-anger">Poland’s tragedy: sorrow, and anger </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/article/poland_s_generational_shift">Poland’s generational shift </a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Poland </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item even"> International politics </div> </div> </div> Poland Democracy and government International politics future of europe democracy & power europe Krzysztof Bobinski Wed, 13 Jul 2011 23:38:41 +0000 Krzysztof Bobinski 60420 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Two https://www.opendemocracy.net/postcard/krzysztof-bobinski <div class="field field-full-text"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>In 2050 democracy blossomed all around the world partly because, some years back, bankers in the west and elsewhere were stopped from accepting deposits from dodgy rulers. It was a big sacrifice by the banks and they resisted it fiercely, especially in Switzerland. After all these deposits made up a large chunk of bank balance sheets. Tyrants and dictators are driven by many things; power, of course and sex but amassing an ill-gotten fortune was a regular feature.&nbsp;</p><div>These kleptocracies could never become democracies (accountability, rule of law, free media) while their rulers were addicted to siphoning &nbsp;large sums of public money off to private accounts. But try keeping billions under the bed. These people stole on such a scale that they were the only robbers who actually needed a bank to look after their swag.</div><div>Yours, K</div> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-picture"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <img class="imagefield imagefield-field_picture" width="500" height="654" alt="" src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/500px-Jakob_Meyer%2C_by_Hans_Holbein_the_Younger.jpg" /> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-pic-attrib"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Holbein&#039;s portrait of Jakob Meyer, banker. http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/9/94/Jakob_Meyer%2C_by_Hans_Holbein_the_Younger.jpg/458px-Jakob_Meyer%2C_by_Hans_Holbein_the_Younger.jpg </div> </div> </div> Krzysztof Bobinski Tue, 26 Apr 2011 09:54:14 +0000 Krzysztof Bobinski 59155 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Poland and climate change https://www.opendemocracy.net/krzysztof-bobinski/poland-and-climate-change <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> The indifference of official Poland to climate change is rooted in its leaders' experience and reinforced by economic interest. A new generation will be needed for a stronger policy to emerge, says Krzysztof Bobinski. </div> </div> </div> <P>The United Nations climate-change meeting at <A href="http://unfccc.int/2860.php">Cancún</a> has been and gone. You wouldn’t think it if you followed the Polish media. Poland is not interested in climate change. When it does take any notice, it is to try defend its heavy industry and its mainly coal-fuelled energy-generators from the costs which a serious effort to do something would entail. The problem, as seen from Warsaw, is not global warming - but the European Union setting CO2 emission-reduction targets which, scream the newspapers, would be ruinous for Poland.</p> <P>This is a pity, not least because Poland will hold the <A href="http://www.prezydencjaue.gov.pl/en/">presidency</a> of the European Union in July-December 2011 and thus coordinating EU policies - including climate change - before the <A href="http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20101213/india_nm/india535172">next</a> UN world summit in South Africa in November-December 2011. This is the last meeting before the <A href="http://unfccc.int/kyoto_protocol/items/2830.php">Kyoto accord</a> runs out in 2012, and something will have to put in its place. The EU needs Poland to be involved. The problem is that the country may <A href="http://redo.me.uk/v36go/maindb.unfccc.int/public/country.pl?country=PL">stay</a> semi-detached on climate.</p> <P><STRONG>A formative time<BR /></strong></p> <P>Climate change is a new challenge for the world. It far transcends the cold-war divisions and attitudes which still inform the outlook of the people running Poland’s post-Soviet society. You’d think that the cold war has been over for twenty years and that everyone should have got beyond it by now. Not so.</p> <P>True, young Poles who are now studying at university or in their first jobs were born after 1989, and 40-year-old Poles have lived their entire adult life as free citizens in a post-cold-war world. But the people who are still making the running in Polish politics and in government had their formative experiences in the student protests of 1968 and in the dissident movement of the 1970s. Those involvements, plus the <A href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/democracy-protest/solidarity_2806.jsp">Solidarity</a> period of 1980-81 and the underground movement which followed, formed their core political and social outlook. The benefits of all this <A href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/article/poland-the-future-s-past">engagement</a> came after 1989 when they came to power in Poland. As a generation they are still there.</p> <P>How do they think about their country and its role in the world? They regard Poland as still a poor country compared to western Europe or the United States; consequently, Poland needs and deserves help and in no sense should itself be asked to help others who are worse off.</p> <P>In this variation of the “beaten-dog” syndrome, the fact that Poland now receives&nbsp;huge aid in the form of European Union regional <A href="http://www.euractiv.com/en/regional-policy/polish-czech-leaders-vow-defend-eu-regional-aid-news-499457">funds</a> is forgotten: there is still a lingering feeling that the outside world, and that includes the EU, is out to do the country down.</p> <P>This makes it difficult to cope emotionally with an issue like climate change which goes far beyond any of the divisions and problems which faced the world before <A href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/article/the-polish-summer-1989-a-farewell-salute">1989</a>. Climate change also forces the western world, including Poland, to come to terms with the fact that countries that once in effect could be told what to do (such as <A href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/kerry-brown-loh-si-hsing/china%E2%80%99s-next-elite-2012-and-beyond">China</a> or India) are now equal partners.</p> <P>With all this in mind, it shouldn’t be surprising when Poland’s finance minister <A href="http://www.mf.gov.pl/dokument.php?const=1&amp;dzial=2002&amp;id=142370&amp;typ=news">Jacek Rostowski</a> says that Poland is too poor to be able to address climate change, and should itself be helped. Rostowski was born and raised in England, and foreign minister <A href="http://www.msz.gov.pl/Minister,of,Foreign,Affairs,Radoslaw,Sikorski,13614.html">Radek Sikorski</a> studied and worked as a journalist there in the 1980s. Both think that climate change is a “chattering classes” issue - an irritant which has to be dealt with only because the EU is obsessed about it. Poland’s prime minister <A href="http://www.kprm.gov.pl/english/s.php?bio=576">Donald Tusk</a> is even reported to giggle about climate change when his officials press him on the issue.</p> <P>Poland’s environment ministry has a climate-change department, whose director Tomasz Chruszczow is one of five <A href="http://www.mos.gov.pl/artykul/123_newsroom/12070_poland_is_one_of_leading_parties_at_the_un_global_climate_negotiations.html">representatives</a> on the European council who is talking to the rest of the world on behalf of the EU on climate-change issues. But the <A href="http://www.mos.gov.pl/?j=en">ministry</a> is pretty low in the government’s pecking-order.</p> <P><STRONG>A new generation<BR /></strong></p> <P>The government does recognise that an effort has to be made to reduce CO2 emissions - but by as little as possible and at least cost to industry. There is <A href="http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/global-green/091126/poland-energy-bind">self-interest</a> behind this move. Poland’s power industry, still mostly state-owned, is overwhelmingly fuelled by coal. Both the power and the coal industries are very strong lobbies which together employ 300,000 people. A switch of generating capacity to gas would be a way of reducing emissions further, though Poland fears that it would then become dependent on Russian gas supplies. But in any event it is clear that the structural <A href="http://www.ccs-politics.se/poland.html">realities</a> of the Polish economy - the predominance of coal in the fuel mix, and the lack of atomic energy - reinforce conservative social attitudes.</p> <P>There is little prospect that Polish public opinion will force a change in the official <A href="http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE56S02920090729">attitude</a>. The media see climate as a scare-story. Even when modest progressive measures are introduced - the introduction of housing-energy efficiency-certificates, the withdrawal of some types of conventional lightbulbs - there are no information campaigns from the government. It is rare for commercial companies to highlight the fact that their products are energy-efficient, and this message is almost non-existent in the real-estate market. The state-owned energy companies make no effort to stress energy efficiency, in contrast to foreign investors such as Vattenfall or RWE.</p> <P>When the European Union was putting together a fresh climate package in 2008-09, Poland organised a group of post-Soviet EU member-states (which was backed by Germany) to <A href="http://www.europeanvoice.com/article/2009/06/poland-blocking-climate-change-deal/65117.aspx">weaken</a> the proposals. This looks set to <A href="http://www.euractiv.com/en/priorities/poland-needs-more-time-to-meet-climate-target-news-495566">happen</a> again. Poland is determined to resist the drive by Brussels to increase the CO2 emission target by 2020 from 20% to 30%, and is forging a coalition of member-states to this end.</p> <P>Climate-change campaigners, and they do exist in Poland, argue that for the country to be involved properly in <A href="http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE56S02920090729">addressing</a> climate issues it needs to alter the way it looks at itself and the outside world. But that may need a younger <A href="http://www.krytykapolityczna.pl/">generation</a> to come to power, and for these younger people to be free of the complexes and attitudes of their elders.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <P><A href="http://www.mos.gov.pl/?j=en">Government of Poland, ministry of environment </a></p> <P><A href="http://www.iccgov.org/index.htm">International Centre for Climate Governance</a></p> <P>Neal Ascherson, <A href="http://www.halat.pl/poland.html"><EM><SPAN><SPAN>The Struggles for Poland </span></span></em></a></p> <P><A href="http://www.realclimate.org/">Real Climate</a></p> <P>United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (<A href="http://unfccc.int/essential_background/convention/items/2627.php">UNFCCC</a>)</p> <P><EM><A href="http://www.krytykapolityczna.pl/">Krytyka Polityczna</a></em></p> <P><A href="http://www.cc2010.mx/en/">Conference of the Parties</a> (COP 16), Cancún: 29 November-10 December 2010</p> <P>Jerzy Lukowski &amp; Hubert Zawadzki, <A href="http://www.cambridge.org/uk/catalogue/catalogue.asp?isbn=9780521853323"><EM><SPAN><SPAN>A Concise History of Poland</span></span></em></a> (Cambridge University Press, 2006)</p> <P><A href="http://www.polishculture.org.uk/">Polish Cultural Institute</a>, London</p> <P>Nicholas Stern,&nbsp;<A><SPAN class="Ar18Blue">&nbsp;</span></a><A href="http://www.randomhouse.co.uk/catalog/book.htm?command=search&amp;db=main.txt&amp;eqisbndata=1847920373"><EM>A Blueprint for a Safer Planet: How to Manage Climate Change and Create a New Era of Progress and Prosperity</em></a> (Random House, 2009)</p> <P><A href="http://www.gazetawyborcza.pl/0,82049.html?adw=1&amp;gclid=CKrCtp7IiY4CFQdRMAodzEOyOA"><EM>Gazeta Wyborcza </em></a></p> <P><A href="http://www.poland.pl/news/index.htm">Poland.pl - news from Poland</a></p> <P>Mike Hulme, <EM><A href="http://www.cambridge.org/gb/knowledge/isbn/item2327124/?site_locale=en_GB"><SPAN><SPAN>Why We Disagree About Climate Change</span></span></a></em> (Cambridge University Press, 2009)</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-sidebox"> <div class="field-label"> Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <P>Krzysztof Bobinski is the president of Unia &amp; Polska, a pro-European think-tank in Warsaw. He was the Warsaw correspondent of the <EM>Financial Times</em> (1976-2000) and later published <A href="http://www.unia-polska.pl/index.php?id=13"><EM>Unia &amp; Polska</em> magazine</a></p> <P>Also by Krzysztof Bobinski in <STRONG>openDemocracy</strong>:</p> <P>"<A href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/node/48096">The Polish summer, 1989: a farewell salute</a>" (2 June 2009)</p> <UL class="articles"> <LI> <DIV class="title">"<A href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/node/47206">Poland: the politics of history" </a>(24 January 2009)</div> <UL class="articles"> <LI> <DIV class="title">"<A href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/node/47469">Europe between past and future</a>" (9 March 2009)</div> <UL class="articles"> <LI> <DIV class="title">"<A href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/article/the-caucasus-effect-europe-unblocked">The Caucasus effect: Europe unblocked</a>" (16 September 2008)</div></li> <LI> <DIV class="title"><A href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/node/35001">Poland’s generational shift" </a>&nbsp;(1 November 2007)&nbsp;</div></li></ul></li></ul></li></ul> <UL class="articles"> <LI> <DIV class="title">"<A href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/node/4038">Hungary's 1956, central Europe's 2006: beyond illusion</a>"&nbsp;(26 October 2006)</div> <UL class="articles"> <LI> <DIV class="title">"<A href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/node/4456">European unity: reality and myth</a>" (21 March 2007)</div> <UL class="articles"> <LI> <DIV class="title"><A href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/node/3737">Poland's populist caravan</a>&nbsp;(13 July 2006)</div> <UL class="articles"> <LI> <DIV class="title"><A href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/node/1878">Poland’s nervous “return” to Europe</a>&nbsp;(28 April 2004)</div></li> <LI> <DIV class="title">"<A href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/krzysztof-bobinski/poland%E2%80%99s-second-katyn-out-of-ashes">Poland's second Katyn: out of the ashes</a>" (13 April 2010)</div></li></ul></li></ul></li></ul></li></ul> <P>&nbsp;</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/article/the-global-politics-of-climate-change-after-the-g8">The global politics of climate-change: after the G8 </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/andrew-pendleton/after-copenhagen">After Copenhagen</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/article/climate_change_from_issue_to_magnifier">Climate change: from issue to magnifier </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/article/the-politics-of-climate-change">The politics of climate change</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/article/10-10-and-the-politics-of-climate-change">10:10 and the politics of climate change </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/globalization-climate_change_debate/2590.jsp">The politics of climate change: a debate guide</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/sue-branford-ian-christie-andrew-dobson-john-elkington-%C3%B8yvind-paasche-oliver-tickell/copenhagen-clim">Copenhagen: climate countdown</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/andrew-pendleton/after-canc%C3%BAn-shifting-climate-gears">After Cancún: shifting climate gears</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/simon-maxwell/politics-of-climate-finance">The politics of climate finance</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/globalization-climate_change_debate/question_democracy_4399.jsp">Climate change: a question of democracy</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/%C3%B8yvind-paasche/after-climategate-forward-to-reality">After climategate: forward to reality</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/article/climate-change-a-failure-of-leadership">Climate change: a failure of leadership </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/article/democracy_and_climate_change_a_story_of_failure">Democracy and climate change: a story of failure </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/article/climate-change-futures-postcard-from-poznan">Climate change futures: postcard from Poznan</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Poland </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item even"> International politics </div> </div> </div> Poland International politics Democracy and government india/pakistan Krzysztof Bobinski Tue, 14 Dec 2010 08:27:41 +0000 Krzysztof Bobinski 57200 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Poland’s second Katyń: out of the ashes https://www.opendemocracy.net/krzysztof-bobinski/poland%E2%80%99s-second-katyn-out-of-ashes <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> The flight-disaster that consumed Poland’s president and dozens of the nation’s senior figures may be followed by a lasting improvement in relations between Warsaw and Moscow, says Krzysztof Bobinski. </div> </div> </div> <p>Everyone tries to behave well when confronted by tragedy. Vladimir Putin, the Russian prime minister, is proving no exception. He and the Russian authorities have behaved with notable compassion in the aftermath of the Polish plane-crash near the city of Smoleńsk on the morning of 10 April 2010 which <a href="http://wyborcza.pl/0,105742.html">killed</a> ninety-seven people. These included <a href="http://www.economist.com/world/europe/displaystory.cfm?story_id=15891381">Lech Kaczyński</a>, the Polish president, his wife as well as <a href="http://www.breakingglobalnews.com/polish-plane-crash-passenger-list/1226861">numerous</a> officials, the entire Polish military high-command, and the central-bank governor. Also on board were family members of the victims of the massacre in April 1940 by the a Soviet NKVD, when over 4,000 interned officers were <a href="http://wyborcza.pl/1,76842,6911515,Katyn_Victims_Near_Kharkov_Covered_with_Lime.html">murdered</a> on Stalin’s orders in Katyń&nbsp;wood outside Smoleńsk. Since then the word Katyń has come to symbolise the murder of some 22,000 Polish officers, officials, policeman and landowners killed by the Soviets that spring <a href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/8606126.stm">seventy</a> years ago.</p> <p>Lech Kaczyński, elected president of Poland in 2005, had not been Vladimir Putin’s favourite Polish politician. The diminutive Polish leader, with his twin brother Jarosław, had run Poland from 2005-07 (with Jarosław as prime minister of the government led by their <a href="http://www.pis.org.pl/main.php"><em>Prawo i Sprawiedliwość</em></a>&nbsp;[Law &amp; Justice / PiS] party); the twins pursued a tough line on Russia as well as the European Union, and showed authoritarian tendencies at home which aimed at rooting out corruption but had worryingly begun to infringe on civil liberties (see Adam Szostkiewicz, "<a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/democracy-protest/poland_marches_3990.jsp">Poland marches: the people sound the alarm</a>", 12 October 2006).</p> <p>An election in 2007 saw Jarosław voted out and replaced by the more liberal Donald Tusk and his <a href="http://www.platforma.org/en/"><em>Platforma Obywatelska</em></a> (Civic Platform) party, but left Lech to fight the PiS corner.&nbsp;The consequence was that Polish foreign policy pursued a more variable course: Tusk as prime minister moved to improve relations with Moscow, while Kaczyński as <a href="http://www.poland.gov.pl/Prezydent,119.html">president</a> continued to stress support for Georgia and Ukraine and to demonstrate a distrust of Vladimir Putin and his successor as Russia’s president, <a href="http://eng.kremlin.ru/articles/D_Medvedev.shtml">Dmitry Medvedev</a>.</p> <p>The fact that Donald Tusk had been in Katyń two days before Lech Kaczyński was due there and <a href="http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/poland/7564156/Vladimir-Putin-and-Donald-Tusk-attend-Katyn-massacre-memorial.html">attended</a> a separate commemorative ceremony with Putin showed the gulf that existed between the two Polish leaders. In his commemorative address on 8 April, Putin referred to the other victims of “the Stalinist repressions of the 1930s” who are buried in Katyń wood. The use of this area as an NKVD killing-ground was well known to people living in the neighbourhood but it was something they only whispered about for many years after 1945.</p> <p>Putin here <a href="http://www.rferl.org/content/Putin_Speaks_At_Joint_Commemoration_Of_SovietEra_Massacre/2005357.html">linked</a> the fate of “Soviet citizens who burned in the fire of Stalinist repression of the 1930s, Polish officers shot according to a secret order, and Red Army soldiers shot by the Nazis during the Great Patriotic War”; thus making the point that Russia and Poland shared a common fate in the 20th century. There is a hint here of a lasting <a href="http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/katyn-painful-wound-that-has-yet-to-heal-1942117.html">improvement</a> in Polish-Russian relations based on a <a href="http://www.spiegel.de/international/europe/0,1518,687934,00.html">reconciliation</a> over the issue of the 1940 massacre.</p> <p>The speech which Kaczyński had prepared for his Katyń memorial, released on 12 April, can also be seen as in part conciliatory: “Let’s make the Katyń&nbsp;wound finally heal. We are already on the way to do it. We, Poles, appreciate what Russians have done in the past years. We should follow the path which brings our nations closer, we should not stop or go back” (see “<a href="http://www.thenews.pl/national/artykul129342_president-kaczynskis-last-speech.html">President Kaczynski’s last speech</a>”, <em>PolskieRadio</em>, 12 April 2010).</p> <p><strong>A bend in the river</strong></p> <p>But if the Russian prime minister set the murder of the Polish officers in the context of the massive killings in the Soviet Union at the hands of <a href="http://www.randomhouse.com/catalog/display.pperl/9780375757716.html">Joseph Stalin</a> and his predecessors, he was careful not to mention Stalin directly. Behind this diplomatic caution lies another anniversary: in May 2010 the Russians will host the sixty-fifth anniversary of the end of the second world war, when Stalin completed the Soviet Union’s victory over Nazi Germany to the everlasting pride of Soviet veterans and many others in today’s Russia.</p> <p>Lech Kaczyński had been planning to be in Moscow for that event, despite his lack of trust in Medvedev and Putin. But whatever he might have said there or in Katyń, the circumstances surrounding his death and the evident good <a href="http://www.rferl.org/content/Russian_And_Polish_Leaders_To_Mark_Katyn_Anniversary/2004394.html">relations</a> between Vladimir Putin and <a href="http://www.kprm.gov.pl/en/prime_minister/donald_tusk/">Donald Tusk</a> may combine to <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2010/04/13/world/europe/13poland.html">open</a> a new chapter in the ways that Russia and Poland interconnect.</p> <p>There are many reasons why these bilateral relations have been poor. Russia’s energy policy and its <a href="http://www.nord-stream.com/en/">NordStream</a> pipeline under the Baltic to bring gas to western Europe is but one. The Katyń massacre too has continued to have a large significance. The event may be small by Soviet standards in terms of numbers killed, and Russians as well as Ukrainians and others themselves suffered in some cases greater tragedies before and during the war; but Katyń has become for Poles (notwithstanding <a href="http://www.gorby.ru/en/rubrs.asp?rubr_id=310">Mikhail Gorbachev’s</a> acknowledgment in <a href="http://www.katyncrime.pl/From,the,Katyn,Committee&amp;8217;s,appeal,to,Mikhail,Gorbachev,373.html">1990</a> of Soviet responsibility) a symbol of Soviet brutality and duplicity, which they feel needs to be more fully accepted by Moscow as a major crime to ensure that the historical record is clear and any possibility of denial - or repeat - is excluded.</p> <p>The grounds for this attitude on the Polish side include countless stories in the Russian media which continue to assert or imply that the crime was committed by the Nazis. Indeed a <a href="http://www.thenews.pl/international/artykul125881_poland-to-sue-russia-for-katyn-massacre.html">deposition</a> by the families of the Katyń victims in the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg was met by a Russian claim that there is no proof of any such crime. Indeed, even as the Moscow-based English-language television channel <a href="http://rt.com/"><em>Russia Today</em></a> reported on the Smoleńsk crash it would go no further than saying that the planned ceremonies were to commemorate the victims of “totalitarian repression” who had been murdered “during the war’.&nbsp;</p> <p>Now, there is evidence that the Russian and Polish prime ministers have opened the way to full disclosure.&nbsp;Vladimir Putin’s behaviour in the wake of the <a href="http://tech.mit.edu/V130/N19/poland.html">tragedy</a> - part of a Russian response described as “impeccable” by Poland’s foreign minister, <a href="http://www.radeksikorski.pl/en">Radek Sikorski</a> - raises <a href="http://www.independent.co.uk/opinion/commentators/krzysztof-bobinsk-a-blow-to-the-heart-of-our-reborn-country-1942115.html">hopes</a>&nbsp;that the reconciliation around the Katyń anniversary could lead to a permanent improvement of relations. The showing of <a href="http://www.wajda.pl/en/kalendarium.html">Andrzej Wajda’s</a> film-drama <a href="http://www.wajda.pl/en/filmy/katyn.html"><em>Katyń</em></a>&nbsp;on Russian state television on the evening of 11 April 2010 is a further symbolic sign of what may become a genuine opening.</p> <p>The Poles will have to be careful that this should not entail abandoning support for the independence of states like Georgia and Ukraine, to which Lech Kaczyński paid such great attention. But it would be a singular twist of history if a <a href="http://wyborcza.pl/5,75539,7752588,Polska_po_katastrofie.html">disaster</a> which took the life of a Polish politicians sceptical of Russia paves the way to closer bonds between the two countries and peoples.&nbsp;</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="content"><div class="odtab-content"><p>Neal Ascherson, <a href="http://www.halat.pl/poland.html"><em>The Struggles for Poland </em></a></p> <p>Jerzy Lukowski &amp; Hubert Zawadzki, <a href="http://www.cambridge.org/uk/catalogue/catalogue.asp?isbn=9780521853323"><em>A Concise History of Poland</em></a> (Cambridge University Press, 2006)</p> <p><a href="http://www.polishculture.org.uk/">Polish Cultural Institute</a>, London</p> <p><a href="http://www.gazetawyborcza.pl/0,82049.html?adw=1&amp;gclid=CKrCtp7IiY4CFQdRMAodzEOyOA"><em>Gazeta Wyborcza </em></a></p> <p><a href="http://www.poland.pl/news/index.htm">Poland.pl - news from Poland</a></p> <p><a href="http://www.wajda.pl/en/filmy/katyn.html">Andrzej Wajda, <em>Katyn</em></a></p></div></div> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-sidebox"> <div class="field-label"> Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Krzysztof Bobinski is the president of Unia &amp; Polska, a pro-European think-tank in Warsaw. He was the Warsaw correspondent of the <em>Financial Times</em> (1976-2000) and later published <a href="http://www.unia-polska.pl/index.php?id=13"><em>Unia &amp; Polska</em> magazine</a></p> <p>------------</p> <p><strong>openDemocracy</strong> writers track Polish politics and governance:</p> <p>Neal Ascherson, "<a href="../2806">The victory and defeat of Solidarity</a>" (6 September 2005)</p> <p>Adam Szostkiewicz, "<a href="../../democracy-protest/poland_2858.jsp">The Polish lifeboat</a>" (22 September 2005)</p> <p>Karolina Gniewowska, "<a href="../../democracy-protest/minefield_2863.jsp">The Polish minefield</a>" (23 September 2005)</p> <p>Marek Kohn, "<a href="../../globalization-institutions_government/election_poland_2957.jsp">Poland's beacon for Europe</a>" (25 October 2005)</p> <p>Neal Ascherson, "<a href="../../democracy-protest/poland_church_4237.jsp">Catholic Poland's anguish</a>" (11 January 2007)</p> <p>Neal Ascherson, "<a href="../4286">Ryszard Kapuscinski: from Poland to the world</a>" (25 January 2007)</p> <p>Zygmunt Dzieciolowski, "<a href="../../article/globalisation/institutions_government/poland_dictionary">The Polish dictionary</a>" (22 August 2007)</p> <p>Ivan Krastev, "<a href="../../article/globalisation/institutions_government/populist_poland">Sleepless in Sczeczin: what's the matter with Poland?</a>" (19 October 2007)</p> <p>Neal Ascherson, "<a href="../../article/democracy_power/politics_protest/poland_election">Poland after PiS: handle with care</a>" (26 October 2007)</p> <p>Neal Ascherson, "<a href="../../article/globalisation/the_polish_march_students_workers_and_1968">The Polish March: students, workers, and 1968</a>" (1 February 2008)</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/article/the-polish-summer-1989-a-farewell-salute">The Polish summer, 1989: a farewell salute</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/article/poland-the-future-s-past">Poland: the politics of history </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/article/europe-between-past-and-future">Europe between past and future</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/article/the-caucasus-effect-europe-unblocked">The Caucasus effect: Europe unblocked</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/article/poland_s_generational_shift">Poland’s generational shift </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/democracy-protest/hungary_europe_4038.jsp">Hungary&#039;s 1956, central Europe&#039;s 2006: beyond illusion</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/democracy-europefuture/bobinski_rome_4456.jsp">European unity: reality and myth</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/globalization-institutions_government/poland_populist_3737.jsp">Poland&#039;s populist caravan</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/democracy-europefuture/article_1878.jsp">Poland&amp;#146;s nervous &amp;#147;return&amp;#148; to Europe</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Poland </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item even"> International politics </div> </div> </div> Poland Democracy and government International politics institutions & government Globalisation democracy & power russia & eurasia europe Krzysztof Bobinski Tue, 13 Apr 2010 23:43:24 +0000 Krzysztof Bobinski 53642 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Poland: the politics of history https://www.opendemocracy.net/article/poland-the-future-s-past <p> A small crowd gathers at midnight on 13 December 2008 outside a modest house in Warsaw. It is an annual event. </p> <p> The scenario outside the darkened house hardly changes from year to year - even down to the attendees, who are divided into two groups. These chant slogans at each other, the larger (and younger) group scorning the house&#39;s occupant and the smaller (and older) one supporting. A line of police (mostly young) separates the rivals. Around one o&#39;clock in the morning the demonstrators drift away. See you next year. </p> <p> <span class="pullquote_new">Krzysztof Bobiński is the president of Unia &amp; Polska, a pro-European think-tank in Warsaw. He was the <em>Financial Times&#39;s</em> Warsaw correspondent (1976-2000) and later published <a href="http://www.unia-polska.pl/index.php?id=13"><em>Unia &amp; Polska magazine</em></a>. He writes for <a href="http://www.europeanvoice.com/page/european-voice/1.aspx"><em>European Voice</em></a> and is an associate editor on the Europe section of <a href="http://www.europesworld.org/"><em>Europe&#39;s World</em></a><br /> <br /> Among Krzysztof Bobinski&#39;s articles in <strong>openDemocracy</strong>:<br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/2704">Democracy in the European Union, more or less</a>&quot; (27 July 2005)<br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/3085">The European Union&#39;s Turkish dilemma</a>&quot; (2 December 2005)<br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/3381">Belarus&#39;s message to Europe</a>&quot; (22 March 2006)<br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/globalization-institutions_government/poland_populist_3737.jsp">Poland&#39;s populist caravan</a>&quot; (14 July 2006)<br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/democracy-protest/hungary_europe_4038.jsp">Hungary&#39;s 1956, central Europe&#39;s 2006: beyond illusion</a>&quot; (27 October 2006)<br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/democracy-europe_constitution/bobinski_rome_4456.jsp">European unity: reality and myth</a>&quot; (21 March 2007)<br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/democracy_power/future_europe/poland_confusion">The Polish confusion</a>&quot; (22 June 2007)<br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/article/europe-after-lisbon">Europe&#39;s coal-mine, Ireland&#39;s canary</a>&quot; (20 June 2008)</span>No one peers through the curtains; the 85-year-old man inside has seen it all before. In any case, he can choose to watch it all live on the local twenty-four-hour news-channels. For this is the residence of former Polish general, <a href="http://www.wojciech-jaruzelski.pl/">Wojciech Jaruzelski</a>, and the occasion the anniversary of his imposition of martial law in Poland in December 1981. </p> <p> The move was intended to crush the then opposition Solidarity trade union that had emerged in the Baltic city of Gdansk in August 1980 and then spread throughout <a href="http://go.hrw.com/atlas/norm_htm/poland.htm">Poland</a> to establish itself as a mass movement threatening radical change in the country&#39;s communist system of governance. General Jaruzelski succeeded: Solidarity members were arrested, harassed, beaten down and exiled, and the process of change in eastern Europe frozen - until it erupted again almost a decade later. </p> <p> This minor Warsaw spectacle in the politics of memory will be repeated each year until the general dies. The debate on whether he was right or wrong to do what he did will go on for much longer. </p> <p> <strong>A political trial</strong> </p> <p> It&#39;s not a one-sided debate. As the twentieth anniversary of the end of communism in Poland approaches, polls estimate that around 44% of Poles have come to approve of his move against the Solidarity movement while only 32% are critical. The general himself invariably claims that his decision was motivated by fear that the Soviet Union would invade Poland - thus crushing far more than Solidarity. His critics argue that Moscow  wouldn&#39;t have invaded and have <a href="http://psi.ece.jhu.edu/~kaplan/IRUSS/BUK/GBARC/pdfs/poland/poland-eng.html">Soviet documents</a> to back their case. The Russians, relieved that that this is one event they can shift responsibility for, are not saying much. </p> <p> Meanwhile ex-general Jaruzelski and the surviving members of his leadership are on trial in a Warsaw court. They are <a href="http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/1549001/Jaruzelski-charged-with-decade-of-crimes.html">accused</a> of organising an armed conspiracy against the Polish nation. The case has been brought by the <a href="http://www.ipn.gov.pl/portal/en/1/2/Institute_of_National_Remembrance__Commission_for_the_Prosecution_of_Crimes_agai.html">Institute of National Remembrance</a> (IPN), a state organisation responsible for prosecuting Nazi and Soviet crimes. </p> <p> It is highly debatable whether the martial-law decision in 1981 is a matter for a criminal court at all. This is, in truth, a political <a href="http://www.polskieradio.pl/zagranica/news/artykul51198.html">trial</a>. But the fact that it was brought at all reflects a shift in the debate on Poland&#39;s recent past brought about by the rightwing <em>Prawo i Sprawiedliwosc</em> (Law &amp; Justice / <a href="http://www.pis.org.pl/main.php">PiS</a>) party, which came to power in September 2005 and was <a href="http://wybory2007.pkw.gov.pl/SJM/EN/WYN/M/index.htm">voted out</a> in October 2007 in a wave of revulsion at its authoritarian and nationalistic policies. Before the PiS fell it managed to reverse the hitherto dominant view that the key event of the 1980s in Poland was the peaceful handover of power in 1989 by General Jaruzelski and his communists to <a href="/node/2806">Solidarity</a>. The advent of PiS brought to the fore a set of historians too young to remember the communist times, who see the key date of this period in terms of Jaruzelski&#39;s 1981 clampdown. </p> <p> Indeed, their view represents a paradigm-shift that covers the whole of the post-war period in Poland. This sees the years since 1945 merely in <a href="http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/poles-apart-opening-the-files-on-a-communist-past-450698.html">terms</a> of resistance to and collaboration with the Soviet regime. It ignores the fact that the key issue for Poland and its people - abandoned by the western powers in 1945 - was neither resistance or collaboration. It was how to respond and adapt to the demands of a regime imposed ruthlessly by a Soviet Union which promised social change in return for loss of national sovereignty. </p> <p> The response by the various social groups was different at different periods. Political changes  mostly matched changes in the Kremlin and the varying temperament of Poland&#39;s communist rulers. The framework was set by Moscow&#39;s military interventions in <a href="/democracy-protest/hungary_4075.jsp">Budapest</a> in 1956 and Prague in 1968. The end came when the promise of social change, attractive in the 1950s, reached a state of exhaustion in 1980. It was then that the country&#39;s working class irrevocably turned its back on its communist rulers and placed its hopes in <a href="http://nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/peace/laureates/1983/walesa-bio.html">Lech Wałesa&#39;s</a> Solidarity. </p> <p> <strong>An urbane insider </strong> </p> <p> One of the more attractive characters entangled in this story on the communist side was <a href="http://www.economist.com/obituary/displaystory.cfm?story_id=12630233">Mieczysław Rakowski</a> who died on 8 November 2008 at the age of 82. Rakowski, the son of a peasant family from western Poland, lost his father during the second world war, murdered by German occupiers. Like many of his generation he joined the communists in 1946 convinced they would build a better future for his country. In 1957 he became editor of <em>Polityka</em>, a weekly established to counter the hopes of a political thaw set in train the previous year. Within a few years he had turned the paper into a standard-bearer for the technocratic, liberal regime which he believed the communist system could evolve into. </p> <p> <span class="pullquote_new">openDemocracy writers track Polish politics and governance:<br /> <br /> Neal Ascherson, &quot;<a href="/2806">The victory and defeat of Solidarity</a>&quot; (6 September 2005)<br /> <br /> Adam Szostkiewicz, &quot;The Polish lifeboat&quot; (22 September 2005)<br /> <br /> Karolina Gniewowska, &quot;<a href="/democracy-protest/minefield_2863.jsp">The Polish minefield</a>&quot; (23 September 2005)<br /> <br /> Marek Kohn, &quot;<a href="/globalization-institutions_government/election_poland_2957.jsp">Poland&#39;s beacon for Europe</a>&quot; (25 October 2005)<br /> <br /> Neal Ascherson, &quot;<a href="/democracy-protest/poland_church_4237.jsp">Catholic Poland&#39;s anguish</a>&quot; (11 January 2007)<br /> <br /> Neal Ascherson, &quot;<a href="/4286">Ryszard Kapuscinski: from Poland to the world</a>&quot; (25 January 2007)<br /> <br /> Zygmunt Dzieciolowski, &quot;<a href="/article/globalisation/institutions_government/poland_dictionary">The Polish dictionary</a>&quot; (22 August 2007)<br /> <br /> Ivan Krastev, &quot;<a href="/article/globalisation/institutions_government/populist_poland">Sleepless in Sczeczin: what&#39;s the matter with Poland?</a>&quot; (19 October 2007)<br /> <br /> Neal Ascherson, &quot;<a href="/article/democracy_power/politics_protest/poland_election">Poland after PiS: handle with care</a>&quot; (26 October 2007)<br /> <br /> Neal Ascherson, &quot;<a href="/article/globalisation/the_polish_march_students_workers_and_1968">The Polish March: students, workers, and 1968</a>&quot; (1 February 2008) </span>Rakowski&#39;s passion was politics, but his real talent was in editing newspapers. This drew not just good writers but a stream of foreign correspondents in Poland, enchanted by an urbane representative of the regime whose views went far <a href="http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/11323b94-b26a-11dd-bbc9-0000779fd18c.html?nclick_check=1">beyond</a> the governing orthodoxy. The dissident opposition dismissed him as little more than a liberal fig-leaf for a repressive regime. The reality was that the conservative wing of the ruling communist party hated him and the Soviets never trusted him; both hampered the political career he <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2008/11/12/world/europe/12rakowski.html">yearned</a> for. Rakowski kept a diary reflecting these predicaments, now published in ten volumes; it is an invaluable political record of communist times. </p> <p> Rakowski himself became the last leader of the communist party at the end of the 1980s, an act that gave him the place in <a href="http://www.cambridge.org/uk/catalogue/catalogue.asp?isbn=9780521853323">history</a> he had always dreamed of. He stayed  with the party to the <a href="http://www.warsawvoice.pl/view/19296">end</a>. He was also loyal to General Jaruzelski, who in 1981 had asked Rakowski to join the government to manage the dialogue with Solidarity which preceded martial law. After the clampdown Rakowski stayed in the government, <a href="http://www.foreignaffairs.org/19900201faessay6002/abraham-brumberg/poland-the-demise-of-communism.html">believing</a> that General Jaruzelski both would minimise repressive policies and represented the best hope of keeping the Soviets and the domestic hardliners at bay. </p> <p> Rakowski was made <a href="http://www.terra.es/personal2/monolith/poland.htm">prime minister</a> in September 1988. He oversaw the <a href="http://www.umich.edu/~iinet/PolishRoundTable/negotiatingradicalchange/panel-one.html">negotiations</a> with Solidarity on a power-sharing agreement which led to the first partially free elections in June <a href="http://www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/NSAEBB/NSAEBB42/">1989</a>, before leaving office in August that year. He also dismantled many cumbersome regulations, which paved the way for the free-market reforms after 1989. Poland&#39;s bureaucrats are still trying to claw some of them back. </p> <p> <strong>The future&#39;s past</strong> </p> <p> After 1989, Rakowski edited a monthly magazine called <em>Dzi</em><em>ś</em>. It was aimed at supporters of the post-communist movement - who to Rakowski&#39;s regret showed little inclination for political reflection - and thus disappeared into a void. The contents of the magazine, however, demonstrated Rakowski&#39;s skill and judgment as an editor. He remained an enthusiast till the end, excited at the prospect of publishing a stenogram of dramatic talks in October <a href="/democracy-protest/hungary_europe_4038.jsp">1956</a> between Nikita Khrushchev, the then Soviet leader, and Poland&#39;s <a href="http://www.rev.hu/history_of_56/szerviz/kislex/biograf/gomulka_uk.htm">Władysław Gomułka</a>. It was at this stormy meeting in Warsaw that Gomułka managed to dissuade the Soviet leader from using military force to crush the liberalising movement then <a href="/article/bronislaw-geremek-polish-and-european-liberal">coursing</a> through in Poland. The country was saved from a cataclysm. </p> <p> However, to Rakowski&#39;s disappointment the publication in <em>Dzi</em><em>ś</em> provoked no interest in today&#39;s Poland. This shows that as long as recent history is seen only in terms of collaboration with or resistance to the communists then events such as those in <a href="http://www.sup.org/book.cgi?book_id=5606">1956</a> which fit neither category will go unnoticed. With such gaps in the country&#39;s collective memory, Poland risks having the debate on its past and much of its present reduced to the equivalent of a shouting-match outside the home of a retired general in a Warsaw suburb.   </p> institutions & government Globalisation democracy & power europe Krzysztof Bobinski Creative Commons normal email Mon, 12 Apr 2010 23:54:17 +0000 Krzysztof Bobinski 47206 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Krzysztof Bobinski https://www.opendemocracy.net/author-profile/krzysztof-bobinski <div class="field field-au-term"> <div class="field-label">Author:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Krzysztof Bobinski </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-au-firstname"> <div class="field-label">First name(s):&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Krzysztof </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-au-surname"> <div class="field-label">Surname:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Bobinski </div> </div> </div> <p>Krzysztof Bobinski is the president of <em>Unia &amp; Polska</em>, a pro-European think-tank in Warsaw. He was the Warsaw correspondent of the <em>Financial Times </em>(1976-2000) and later published <a href="http://www.unia-polska.pl/index.php?id=13"><em>Unia &amp; Polska </em>magazine</a>. He served as co-chair <span>of the </span><span><a href="http://www.eap-csf.eu/">Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum</a> in 2013</span></p><div class="field field-au-shortbio"> <div class="field-label">One-Line Biography:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Krzysztof Bobinski is the president of Unia &amp;amp; Polska, a pro-European think-tank in Warsaw. He was the Financial Times Warsaw correspondent (1976-2000) and later published &lt;a href=&quot;http://www.unia-polska.pl/index.php?id=13&quot;&gt;Unia &amp;amp; Polska magazine&lt;/a&gt;. </div> </div> </div> Krzysztof Bobinski Fri, 26 Mar 2010 13:12:17 +0000 Krzysztof Bobinski 50976 at https://www.opendemocracy.net The Polish summer, 1989: a farewell salute https://www.opendemocracy.net/article/the-polish-summer-1989-a-farewell-salute <p> The irony was clear. Inside Warsaw&#39;s Stalin-era <em>Pa</em><em>ł</em><em>ac Kultury i Nauki</em> (<a href="http://www.pkin.pl/historia">Palace of Culture</a>), Europe&#39;s Christian Democrat leaders were reverentially watching a film about Solidarity&#39;s role in toppling communism - then. Outside the building, Solidarity <a href="http://www.solidarnosc.org.pl/en/index.htm">trade-unionists</a> were battling police in a demonstration against closures of their indebted and ill-managed shipyards - now. </p> <p> <span class="pullquote_new">Krzysztof Bobinski is the president of Unia &amp; Polska, a pro-European think-tank in Warsaw. He was the <em>Financial Times&#39;s</em> Warsaw correspondent (1976-2000) and later published <a href="http://www.unia-polska.pl/index.php?id=13"><em>Unia &amp; Polska magazine</em></a>. He writes for <a href="http://www.europeanvoice.com/page/european-voice/1.aspx"><em>European Voice</em></a> and is an associate editor on the Europe section of <a href="http://www.europesworld.org/"><em>Europe&#39;s World</em></a> <br /> <br /> Among Krzysztof Bobinski&#39;s articles in <strong>openDemocracy</strong>: <br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/node/2704">Democracy in the European Union, more or less</a>&quot; (27 July 2005) <br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/node/3085">The European Union&#39;s Turkish dilemma</a>&quot; (2 December 2005) <br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/node/3381">Belarus&#39;s message to Europe</a>&quot; (22 March 2006) <br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/globalization-institutions_government/poland_populist_3737.jsp">Poland&#39;s populist caravan</a>&quot; (14 July 2006) <br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/democracy-protest/hungary_europe_4038.jsp">Hungary&#39;s 1956, central Europe&#39;s 2006: beyond illusion</a>&quot; (27 October 2006) <br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/democracy-europe_constitution/bobinski_rome_4456.jsp">European unity: reality and myth</a>&quot; (21 March 2007) <br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/democracy_power/future_europe/poland_confusion">The Polish confusion</a>&quot; (22 June 2007) <br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/article/europe-after-lisbon">Europe&#39;s coal-mine, Ireland&#39;s canary</a>&quot; (20 June 2008) <br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/article/the-caucasus-effect-europe-unblocked">The Caucasus effect: Europe unblocked</a>&quot; (15 September 2008) <br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/article/europe-s-politics-of-self-and-others">Europe&#39;s politics of self - and others</a>&quot; (20 October 2008) <br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/article/poland-the-future-s-past">Poland: the politics of history</a>&quot; (24 January 2009)</span> </p> <p> &quot;Then&quot; was 1989, when a nearly free election on 4 June <a href="http://oregonstate.edu/freedomonthefence/sarnecki-noon1989.jpg">swept</a> the Solidarity opposition into power. &quot;Now&quot; is 2009, when the legatees of the movement are engaged in a passionate debate about who rightfully &quot;owns&quot; the legacy of the events of twenty years ago. That summer the first death-knell for communism sounded; what happened in Poland set in train the series of epic protests and decisions which saw the Berlin wall crumble and communism in eastern Europe along with it. </p> <p> For a centre-right government in Poland with <a href="http://www.polskieradio.pl/zagranica/news/artykul109098.html">elections</a> to fight - starting with the ones for the European parliament on <a href="http://www.europarl.europa.eu/elections2009/countries/poland.htm?language=EN">7 June 2009</a>, and local-government and presidential elections in <a href="http://www.electionguide.org/country.php?ID=173">2010</a> - the anniversary is a heaven-sent opportunity to establish itself as the heir of the Solidarity tradition. By contrast, the right-wing nationalist opposition in Poland is furious that its opponents in government are using these events to bolster their position; and the Solidarity trade union which is allied to the opposition is happy to protest on its behalf. The politics of <a href="http://www.ipn.gov.pl/portal/en/1/2/Institute_of_National_Remembrance__Commission_for_the_Prosecution_of_Crimes_agai.html">memory</a> in Poland continue to divide. But a look at the period that led up to the moment of 1989 can cast a fresh light on some of its residual myths. </p> <p> <strong>The long compromise</strong> </p> <p> The anniversary of 4 June 1989 is being <a href="http://www.polskieradio.pl/thenews/news/artykul109332_politicians_from_poland__europe_celebrate_june_4_anniversary.html">celebrated</a>, twenty years on, as the dawn of freedom. An election which the communist authorities agreed to hold saw all the 35% of the seats allocated to a free contest in parliament&#39;s lower house go to Solidarity and all the seats bar one in the 100-seat senate where the election was free were won by Solidarity. It was all over bar the historical debates. </p> <p> The workers who had backed Solidarity from 1980 onwards were the <a href="http://www.rferl.org/content/article/1060898.html">force</a> behind the change which brought in free-market reforms and a democratic system - a process of transformation that destroyed the workers&#39; own political power-base in the process. These were the huge industrial plants built under socialism which occupied a special place in the socialist political order. </p> <p> The entire system <a href="http://www.polskieradio.pl/thenews/news/artykul109251_twenty_years_of_freedom_exhibition__warsaw.html">crumbled</a> in 1989 because the essential compromise underpinning it from 1945 onwards had lost its rationale. Then, after the war, Poles, in the main, accepted the reality of political dominance by Moscow backed by the threat of force in exchange for the promise of social advance (see &quot;<a href="/article/poland-the-future-s-past">Poland: the politics of history</a>&quot;, 24 January 2009). </p> <p> This process favoured the mainly rural masses who saw an opportunity for themselves in the industrialisation of the 1950s. It was then that the great factories were developed, including the shipyard in <a href="http://www.portgdansk.pl/about-port/history">Gdansk</a>, which sucked peasants off the overpopulated land. Lech Wałęsa, the Solidarity leader (and first <a href="http://www.president.pl/x.node?id=478">president</a> of post-communist Poland) was one of them. The policy gave the system a source of support, providing these newly urbanised workers with a better life and educational opportunities for themselves and their children. </p> <p> The workers backed the system when it was given a fresh lease of life by the de-Stalinising liberalisation of 1956. But by 1970 the shipyard demonstrations (which the authorities put down by force) saw the workers turning away from a system which was failing to continue to provide them with the benefits it had promised. In 1980 they turned <em>en masse</em> to <a href="http://nhs.needham.k12.ma.us/cur/Baker_00/2001_p6/baker_jl_al_sh_p6/solidarity.htm">Solidarity</a> in the strikes of that summer. The authorities managed to regain the initiative with the <a href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/onthisday/hi/dates/stories/december/13/newsid_2558000/2558955.stm">declaration</a> of martial law sixteen months later, in December 1981. But the coming to power in the Kremlin of <a href="http://www.gorby.ru/en/rubrs.asp?rubr_id=310">Mikhail Gorbachev</a> in 1985 saw the end of the other principle of the post-war settlement: the Soviet Union signalled it was no longer ready to intervene militarily to prop up its position in the area. 1989 then became inevitable. </p> <p> In all this it had been the great plants like the Gdansk shipyards which had been the pillars, alongside the party and the secret police, of the system. It was in these plants that the party recruited its officials. The big plants were privileged in the allocation of scarce consumer goods. It was they who had the first-division football-teams, the holiday resorts and the better health facilities. When they <a href="http://nhs.needham.k12.ma.us/cur/Baker_00/2001_p6/baker_jl_al_sh_p6/solidarity.htm%23SIG">struck</a> against the system in 1980 they continued to expect better treatment; instead of (as before) providing a recruiting-ground for local party organisations, they began to provide cadres for Solidarity. It was these plants which struck against martial-law in December 1981, and it was there that members of Solidarity regional organisations found refuge from the secret police bent on interning them. </p> <p> <strong>A fond farewell</strong> </p> <p> The elections of <a href="http://www.ipu.org/parline-e/reports/arc/2255_89.htm">4 June 1989</a> opened the way to market reforms and broke the power of these plants. It turned out that the economics of full employment which had been the rationale on which they were based could not survive the business logic of an open, competitive market. Lay-offs soon followed. Most were downsized. The Marchlewski plant - a Solidarity stronghold in Łódż - was turned into a mammoth shopping-centre. But the great plants also saw their political strength disappear. A huge workplace employing 20,000 people which had been able to strike terror into the hearts of <em>apparatchiks</em> by the mere threat of strike action, suddenly became as important or as unimportant as a medium-sized town with 20,000 voters in a nation of nearly 40 million.      </p> <p> The election <a href="http://www.polskieradio.pl/thenews/radio/news/artykul108948_anniversary_of_june_1989_elections.html">marked</a> more than just a rejection of the Soviet system. It also completely transformed the politics of the country, breaking not only the power of the once omnipotent communist party but also the working class and Solidarity in the great factories which since 1980 had in effect shared power with the party (see Neal Ascherson, &quot;<a href="/node/2806">The victory and defeat of Solidarity</a>&quot;, 6 September 2005). </p> <p> The Solidarity workers demonstrating outside the Palace of Culture in spring 2009 waving their trademark flags were attempting to <a href="http://wyborcza.pl/1,82049,6575240,Will_Solidarity_Spoil_the_Anniversary_of_Freedom_.html">defend</a> a position of privilege in society which they had, <em>de facto</em>, lost twenty years before. The power of the myth is strong, and the continuing struggle between Polish politicians about who is the true heir to the Solidarity legacy is bitter. But the debate is increasingly irrelevant, especially for young people. It continues to obscure the real divisions in a <a href="http://go.hrw.com/atlas/norm_htm/poland.htm">country</a> which is seeking to modernise and catch up economically with its partners in the European Union. The driving forces of today&#39;s politics in Poland are regional rivalries, differences over the role of tradition and change; tensions between the generations; and arguments between a bureaucracy seeking to regain lost ground and businesspeople desperate to see cutbacks in all-embracing regulations. </p> <p> Soon after 1989, <a href="http://nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/peace/laureates/1983/walesa-bio.html">Lech Wałęsa</a> said that the Solidarity banner should be honourably laid to rest. In this, as in so many other issues, his instinct was at heart correct. </p> <p> &nbsp; </p> <table border="0" cellspacing="5" cellpadding="5" width="500" height="200" bgcolor="#e3f2f9"> <tbody> <tr> <td> <p> <strong>openDemocracy</strong> writers track Polish politics and governance: </p> <p> Neal Ascherson, &quot;<a href="/node/2806">The victory and defeat of Solidarity</a>&quot; (6 September 2005) </p> <p> Adam Szostkiewicz, &quot;<a href="/democracy-protest/poland_2858.jsp">The Polish lifeboat</a>&quot; (22 September 2005) </p> <p> Karolina Gniewowska, &quot;<a href="/democracy-protest/minefield_2863.jsp">The Polish minefield</a>&quot; (23 September 2005) </p> <p> Marek Kohn, &quot;<a href="/globalization-institutions_government/election_poland_2957.jsp">Poland&#39;s beacon for Europe</a>&quot; (25 October 2005) </p> <p> Neal Ascherson, &quot;<a href="/democracy-protest/poland_church_4237.jsp">Catholic Poland&#39;s anguish</a>&quot; (11 January 2007) </p> <p> Neal Ascherson, &quot;<a href="/node/4286">Ryszard Kapuscinski: from Poland to the world</a>&quot; (25 January 2007) </p> <p> Zygmunt Dzieciolowski, &quot;<a href="/article/globalisation/institutions_government/poland_dictionary">The Polish dictionary</a>&quot; (22 August 2007) </p> <p> Ivan Krastev, &quot;<a href="/article/globalisation/institutions_government/populist_poland">Sleepless in Sczeczin: what&#39;s the matter with Poland?</a>&quot; (19 October 2007) </p> <p> Neal Ascherson, &quot;<a href="/article/democracy_power/politics_protest/poland_election">Poland after PiS: handle with care</a>&quot; (26 October 2007) </p> <p> Neal Ascherson, &quot;<a href="/article/globalisation/the_polish_march_students_workers_and_1968">The Polish March: students, workers, and 1968</a>&quot; (1 February 2008) </p> </td> </tr> </tbody> </table> <style></style> institutions & government Globalisation democracy & power europe Krzysztof Bobinski Creative Commons normal email Tue, 02 Jun 2009 01:05:45 +0000 Krzysztof Bobinski 48096 at https://www.opendemocracy.net The partnership principle: Europe, democracy, and the east https://www.opendemocracy.net/article/idea/the-partnership-principle-europe-democracy-and-the-east <p> The European Union&#39;s &quot;Eastern Partnership&quot; seemed a vaguely good idea at the time. The moment when the mood of slightly quizzical approbation that has surrounded it from the start began to sour was 5 April 2009. That was the day of Moldova&#39;s parliamentary <a href="http://www.angus-reid.com/tracker/view/32521/moldova_2009">election</a>, when police in the capital Chisinau began to beat up detainees who were already assembling to protest against the conduct and outcome of the vote. <span class="pullquote_new">Also on Europe&#39;s eastern problems in<strong> openDemocracy:<br /> <br /> </strong>Ivan Krastev, &quot;<a href="/article/europe-s-trance-of-unreality">Europe&#39;s trance of unreality</a>&quot; (20 June 2008)<br /> <br /> Ivan Krastev, &quot;<a href="/article/europe-s-other-legitimacy-crisis">Europe&#39;s other legitimacy crisis</a>&quot; (23 July 2008)<br /> <br /> Paul Gillespie, &quot;<a href="/article/the-european-union-and-russia-after-georgia">The European Union and Russia after Georgia</a>&quot; (10 September 2008)<br /> <br /> Katinka Barysch,<strong> &quot;</strong><a href="/article/europe-and-the-georgia-russia-conflict">Europe and the Georgia-Russia conflict</a>&quot; (30 September 2008)<br /> <br /> Natalia Leshchenko, &quot;<a href="/article/belarus-s-democratic-facade">Belarus&#39;s election paradox</a>&quot; (1 October 2008)<br /> <br /> Dessy Gavrilova, &quot;<a href="/article/entropa-art-of-politics-heart-of-a-nation">Entropa: art of politics, heart of a nation</a>&quot; (16 January 2009)<br /> <br /> John Palmer, &quot;<a href="/article/the-czech-republic-and-europe-uneasy-presidency">The Czech Republic and Europe: uneasy presidency</a>&quot; (19 January 2009)<br /> <br /> Irina Novakova, &quot;<a href="/article/bulgaria-and-russia-a-cold-marriage">Bulgaria and Russia: a cold marriage</a>&quot; (27 January 2009)<br /> <br /> Anand Menon, &quot;<a href="/article/europe-s-eastern-crisis-the-reality-test">Europe&#39;s eastern crisis: the reality-test</a>&quot; (5 March 2009)<br /> <br /> Juliana Sokolova, &quot;<a href="/article/slovakia-in-search-of-normal-0">Slovakia: in search of normal</a>&quot; (2 April 2009)<br /> <br /> Vessela Tcherneva, &quot;<a href="/article/idea/moldova-time-to-take-sides">Moldova: time to take sides</a>&quot; (14 April 2009)</span> </p> <p> The idea for the partnership <a href="http://www.warsawvoice.pl/view/18068/">arose</a> when the Polish prime minister Donald Tusk heard Nicolas Sarkozy at a European Union summit extolling the <a href="/article/the-mediterranean-union-or-europe-s-bad-examples">virtues</a> of his Mediterranean Union. Tusk thought: why not have a parallel &quot;Eastern Union&quot; which would draw the countries to the east of Poland closer to Europe? The notion won the support of Sweden&#39;s foreign minister <a href="http://www.regeringen.se/sb/d/7505">Carl Bildt</a>. The European commission worked on it, and at the <a href="http://www.rferl.org/content/EU_Summit_To_Discuss_Economic_Crisis_Unveil_Eastern_Partnership_/1513038.html">summit</a> in Brussels on 19-20 March 2009 it became European Union policy. </p> <p> The <a href="http://ec.europa.eu/external_relations/eastern/index_en.htm">partnership</a> is to be officially launched at a <a href="http://www.eubusiness.com/news-eu/1239039121.67/">summit</a> in Prague on 7 May 2009 where EU leaders will meet with leaders from the six partner-states: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine. Brussels has set aside €600 million ($775 million) to be <a href="http://euobserver.com/9/27824">spent</a> in 2010-13 on multilateral and bilateral projects in these countries; the thinking is that these projects will encourage reforms and thus <a href="http://www.cacianalyst.org/?q=node/5074">in time</a> help make the six countries eligible for accession to the EU. </p> <p> <strong>The lost heart</strong> </p> <p> The <a href="http://polandintheeu.blox.pl/2009/02/Good-and-bad-news-about-Eastern-Partnership.html">initiative</a> has been trumpeted in Warsaw as a success of Polish diplomacy, but it has met with some confusion in the target states. Ukraine has been upbeat: it sees the partnership as a significant step on its road to Europe. Belarus&#39;s dictator Alexander Lukashenka has viewed it as a chance to gain some credibility in the west. Moldova, which has established a number of government committees designed to build EU-compatible institutions, has acquiesced in the scheme. Georgia, which <a href="/article/georgia-and-russia-the-aftermath">after</a> the August 2008 war with the Russians has other problems, was happy to consent. <a href="/article/armenia-s-mixed-messages">Armenia</a> and Azerbaijan too gave it the nod. At the same time, the Caucasus countries in particular couldn&#39;t understand why the EU was coming up with another scheme so soon after its &quot;<a href="http://ec.europa.eu/external_relations/blacksea/index_en.htm">Black Sea Synergy</a>&quot; project had aimed similarly to enhance cooperation between states in the region. </p> <p> Now, after the events in <a href="http://go.hrw.com/atlas/norm_htm/moldova.htm">Chisinau</a>, the confusion has wound its way back into the EU. The union&#39;s leaders are wondering if they really want to sit down with Moldova&#39;s president, <a href="http://www.presedinte.md/about.php?p=7&amp;lang=eng">Vladimir Voronin</a>, after what his security people have done to detainees in police cells. Alexander Lukashenka on his own account seems likely to avoid the <a href="http://www.demas.cz/news/lukashenko-in-prague-.html?lang=en">opportunity</a> to socialise with Europe&#39;s leaders. At this stage, the Prague summit looks unlikely to advance the ambitions of the partnership. </p> <p> The events in Moldova have put the underlying situation into sharp perspective. The election - which returned the ruling Communist Party to power (albeit only when this was <a href="http://www.rferl.org/content/Communist_Win_Confirmed_In_Moldovas_Disputed_Vote/1613218.html">confirmed</a> in a recount conceded by Voronin) - was deemed less than free and fair by clear-eyed observers such as <a href="http://www.independent.co.uk/opinion/commentators/emma-nicholson-these-are-the-voices-of-despair-deprived-of-the-right-to-vote-1666120.html">Emma Nicholson</a> from the European parliament. There followed a &quot;flash-mob&quot; demonstration that put up to 15,000 people onto the street in protest at the way the election was handled. This was hijacked by rock-throwing youths who stormed and set fire to the parliament building - raising suspicions that this was indeed the work of provocateurs. </p> <p> The ensuing arrests produced ample evidence that detainees were being beaten, with at least three cases of people being battered to death in custody. The authorities supplemented such brutality with harassment of local and foreign journalists, intimidation of local print and electronic media and wild charges of &quot;fascist&quot; provocation. Moldova&#39;s government seemed determined to live up to the caricature of an authoritarian regime seeking to stay in control using methods taken straight from the old communist textbooks. </p> <p> <strong>The closing door</strong> </p> <p> The problem for the European Union and its new <a href="http://euobserver.com/9/27799">partnership</a> is that such methods are an extreme version of those employed in other capitals of the countries it seeks to reach towards. In February 2008 in Yerevan, force used to disperse crowds protesting the conduct of the <a href="/article/democracy_power/caucasus/armenia_elections">election</a> that saw Serzh Sarkisian ascend to Armenia&#39;s presidency left at least ten dead and several score in prison. In December 2003 in Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliev was <a href="/node/1626">elected</a> president with 89% of the votes cast in what even the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) said was a fraudulent election; the pattern was repeated in the parliamentary <a href="/democracy-caucasus/azerbaijan_3003.jsp">polls</a> of November 2005 and the referendum of March 2009 allowing Aliev to remove a two-term limit on the presidency.   <span class="pullquote_new">Krzysztof Bobinski is the president of Unia &amp; Polska, a pro-European think-tank in Warsaw. He was the <em>Financial Times&#39;s</em> Warsaw correspondent (1976-2000) and later published <a href="http://www.unia-polska.pl/index.php?id=13"><em>Unia &amp; Polska</em> magazine</a>. He writes for <em><a href="http://www.europeanvoice.com/page/european-voice/1.aspx">European Voice</a> </em>and is an associate editor on the Europe section of <a href="http://www.europesworld.org/"><em>Europe&#39;s World</em></a><br /> <br /> Also by Krzysztof Bobinski in openDemocracy:<br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/democracy-europefuture/article_339.jsp">A stork&#39;s eye view from Poland</a>&quot; (25 May 2001)<br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/democracy-ukraine/article_1878.jsp">Poland&#39;s nervous &#39;return&#39; to Europe</a>&quot; (29 April 2004)<br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=2532">Poland&#39;s letter to France: please say <em>oui</em>!&quot;</a> (23 May 2005)<br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/node/2704">Democracy in the European Union, more or less</a>&quot; (July 2005)<br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/node/3085">The European Union&#39;s Turkish dilemma</a>&quot; (2 December 2005)<br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/node/3381">Belarus&#39;s message to Europe</a>&quot; (22 March 2006)<br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/globalization-institutions_government/poland_populist_3737.jsp">Poland&#39;s populist caravan</a>&quot; (14 July 2006)<br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/node/4038">Hungary&#39;s 1956, central Europe&#39;s 2006: beyond illusion</a>&quot; (27 October 2006)<br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/democracy-europe_constitution/bobinski_rome_4456.jsp">European unity: reality and myth</a>&quot; (21 March 2007)<br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/democracy_power/future_europe/poland_confusion">The Polish confusion</a>&quot; (28 June 2007)<br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/node/35001">Poland&#39;s generational shift</a>&quot; (1 November 2007)<br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/article/europe-after-lisbon">Europe&#39;s coal-mine, Ireland&#39;s canary</a>&quot; (21 June 2008)<br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/article/the-caucasus-effect-europe-unblocked">The Caucasus effect: Europe unblocked</a>&quot; (15 September 2008)<br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/article/europe-s-politics-of-self-and-others">Europe&#39;s politics of self - and others</a>&quot; (20 October 2008)<br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/article/europe-between-past-and-future">Europe between past and future</a>&quot; (9 March 2009)</span> </p> <p> In Belarus, Alexander Lukashenka has a proven <a href="/article/belarus-s-democratic-facade">track-record</a> of intimidation of the opposition. In Georgia, Mikhail Saakashvili has been legitimately elected but faces a vociferous <a href="/article/georgia-the-politics-of-recovery">opposition</a> unhappy about his authoritarian style and ever ready to mobilise in the streets in an attempt to force his resignation. In Ukraine, the <a href="/democracy-ukraine/crisis_governance_4581.jsp">rivalry</a> between the president, Viktor Yushchenko and prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko is a constant impediment to coherent governance; both are mulling the option of using martial law to stop the other from winning the forthcoming election. </p> <p> In the Soviet times, people protested most often about price rises. Now people demonstrate when they suspect the authorities of cheating at elections. That may be a form of progress. In any event, more protests in the region can be expected. </p> <p> In these circumstances, the summit in Prague on 7 May risks being seen as a meeting of the EU with a group of kleptocrats who are ready to resort to electoral fraud and the use of force to stay in power. The realisation is also dawning in Brussels that the implementation of EU-style reforms (and this is what the Eastern Partnership is all <a href="http://euobserver.com/9/26211">about</a>) will put an end to the rule of these people. The &quot;partners&quot; know it as well. Are they signing up to the scheme in good faith? </p> <p> To make things worse, the Russians have signalled that they are unhappy with the Eastern Partnership. Sergei Lavrov, the foreign minister, <a href="http://www.dw-world.de/dw/article/0,,4116554,00.html">described</a> it in Brussels on 21 March 2009 as a plan to extend the EU&#39;s sphere of influence. The Germans, still keen on their special relationship with Moscow, will see that as a clear signal to consign the whole idea to a filing cupboard.  </p> <p> Indeed, some diplomatic chanceries in the EU are worried that the Russians may be <a href="http://www.rferl.org/content/Russian_Roulette_In_The_EU_Neighborhood/1609146.html">bent</a> on provoking unrest in the region just to demonstrate to the Europeans the cost of getting involved in such a volatile area. That unrest, the theory goes, will be met with Moldova-style crackdowns - with the result that these countries will move closer to Russia even as the EU steps aside. </p> <p> <strong>The opening key </strong> </p> <p> To consent to such an outcome would be painful and costly for the EU - even a betrayal. For the events in Moldova show that it would entail the EU abandoning a younger generation with no recollection of the Soviet past; with experience in many cases of work, study and travel in the west; and with a desire to live in a &quot;normal&quot; country. It was these young people who streamed onto the streets of Chisinau after the disputed election on 5 April (see Vessela Tcherneva, &quot;<a href="/article/idea/moldova-time-to-take-sides">Moldova: time to take sides</a>&quot;, 14 April 2009). </p> <p> They have, too, advantages in disseminating their message - including an array of electronic means of publicising official misdeeds and their own protests that surpass anything available to their dissident predecessors (more used to typing out bulletins in triplicate and passing them to individual foreign correspondents). The police methods may show a mentality deeply rooted in the KGB past, but Moldova also shows that a sophisticated network of think-tanks and institutes was able to assemble, gather information and <a href="http://www.economist.com/world/europe/displaystory.cfm?story_id=13497056">protest</a> in ways the authorities found it hard to track and subdue. </p> <p> In this light the EU&#39;s choice is no choice. If anyone in the union is having second thoughts about the advisability of pressing ahead with the Eastern Partnership he or she should remember the <a href="http://www1.umn.edu/humanrts/osce/basics/finact75.htm">Helsinki treaty</a> in 1975. This was criticised by many at the time for legitimising the division of Europe; but it was also Helsinki&#39;s &quot;third basket&quot; on human rights which brought the subject to the <a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=2716">fore</a> and gave dissidents a foothold and reference-point from which to challenge the dictators of the time. </p> <p> The EU must, then, stick by the Eastern Partnership - while also making it abundantly clear that the partnership&#39;s key element is the human rights and democratising aspect of the project. This is a message that should be heard in <a href="http://www.eu2009.cz/en/news-and-documents/news/czech-presidency-to-hold-several-important-summits-in-prague-in-early-may-16667/">Prague</a> at the 7 May summit, where NGOs as well as EU leaders will be meeting. Moldovan NGOs have shown the way. A network of like-minded NGOs needs to come together throughout the region ready to monitor the partnership project and react immediately if fundamental rights are infringed. The EU member-states must also signal that they will recognise that the NGOs have a vital role to play in the process. </p> <p> The EU will declare in Prague that it has a partnership with the east. It must also affirm that its policy towards this region is based on principles of human rights and democratic action. </p> <p> &nbsp; </p> democracy & power IDEA Krzysztof Bobinski Creative Commons normal email Wed, 22 Apr 2009 00:50:24 +0000 Krzysztof Bobinski 47788 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Europe between past and future https://www.opendemocracy.net/article/europe-between-past-and-future <p> An early sign of how the financial crisis in east-central Europe in February 2009 was being perceived in the west came in a major feature in the <em>Financial Times</em>. The story was not so much in the words as in the accompanying map, which showed the old <a href="http://www.anz.com/edna/dictionary.asp?action=content&amp;content=council_for_mutual_economic_assistance">Comecon</a> countries as an undifferentiated mass. It was as if nothing had changed since the 1980s, when the Soviet Union&#39;s own &quot;single market&quot; still kept a swathe of states from the Baltics to the Balkans tightly in its orbit. <span class="pullquote_new">Krzysztof Bobinski is the president of Unia &amp; Polska, a pro-European think-tank in Warsaw. He was the <em>Financial Times&#39;s</em> Warsaw correspondent (1976-2000) and later published <a href="http://www.unia-polska.pl/index.php?id=13"><em>Unia &amp; Polska magazine</em></a>. He writes for <a href="http://www.europeanvoice.com/page/european-voice/1.aspx"><em>European Voice</em></a> and is an associate editor on the Europe section of <a href="http://www.europesworld.org/"><em>Europe&#39;s World</em></a><br /> <br /> Among Krzysztof Bobinski&#39;s articles in <strong>openDemocracy</strong>:<br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/node/2704">Democracy in the European Union, more or less</a>&quot; (27 July 2005)<br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/node/3085">The European Union&#39;s Turkish dilemma</a>&quot; (2 December 2005)<br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/node/3381">Belarus&#39;s message to Europe</a>&quot; (22 March 2006)<br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/globalization-institutions_government/poland_populist_3737.jsp">Poland&#39;s populist caravan</a>&quot; (14 July 2006)<br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/democracy-protest/hungary_europe_4038.jsp">Hungary&#39;s 1956, central Europe&#39;s 2006: beyond illusion</a>&quot; (27 October 2006)<br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/democracy-europe_constitution/bobinski_rome_4456.jsp">European unity: reality and myth</a>&quot; (21 March 2007)<br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/democracy_power/future_europe/poland_confusion">The Polish confusion</a>&quot; (22 June 2007)<br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/article/europe-after-lisbon">Europe&#39;s coal-mine, Ireland&#39;s canary</a>&quot; (20 June 2008)<br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/article/the-caucasus-effect-europe-unblocked">The Caucasus effect: Europe unblocked</a>&quot; (15 September 2008)<br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/article/europe-s-politics-of-self-and-others">Europe&#39;s politics of self - and others</a>&quot; (20 October 2008)<br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/article/poland-the-future-s-past">Poland: the politics of history</a>&quot; (24 January 2009)</span> </p> <p> A small matter on its own - but also significant in the very year that the new European Union <a href="http://europa.eu/abc/maps/index_en.htm">member-states</a> are celebrating a double anniversary: the twentieth since the peaceful collapse of Soviet communism, and the fifth since the enlargement of the EU to accommodate seven former Soviet-bloc states (Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania - as well as Slovenia, Cyprus and Malta). The <a href="http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/209d7db8-0374-11de-b405-000077b07658.html"><em>Financial Times&#39;s</em></a> map is a sobering reminder that western Europe&#39;s reflexive view of the former &quot;satellites&quot; of Moscow - if indeed it thinks of them at all - is of an anonymous, uniform &quot;other&quot;. </p> <p> <strong>The twilight of union</strong> </p> <p> The latest crisis to afflict the enlarged European Union of twenty-seven member-states is bound to test the depth of the union&#39;s will to stay together as a forward-looking project: that is, as a post-1989 grouping which accepts and practices the belief that the new members are full partners deserving of a solidarity which will give them a chance to develop. </p> <p> The impression that this conviction was more fragile than it needs to be deepened in the days leading up to the informal <a href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/7917272.stm">meeting</a> of European Union heads of state and government in Brussels on 1 March 2009. The primary focus of the summit - though it was held under the <a href="http://www.eu2009.cz/event/1/3153/">auspices</a> of the Czech Republic&#39;s presidency - seemed to be on solving the problems of the union&#39;s major (western) economies, relegating those of the smaller (and newer) states to a lower place on the agenda. Even the widespread <a href="http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/hungary/4904025/New-Iron-Curtain-threatens-to-split-Europe-over-economic-crisis.html">scare-stories</a> about the rise of a new &quot;east-west division&quot; (or a new &quot;Berlin wall&quot;) implied that the eastern countries were not really part of the same, shared reality. There was little <a href="http://www.euractiv.com/en/opinion/eu-leaders-rule-special-aid-plan-eastern-europe/article-179855">affirmation</a> of the enlarged EU as an achieved whole - the taken-for-granted foundation on which understanding is to be reached and policy developed. </p> <p> True, a degree of <a href="http://www.telegraph.co.uk/comment/personal-view/4929362/Europe-sees-trouble-rising-in-the-East.html">division</a> is rooted in objective post-enlargement conditions. The newer member-states - including Bulgaria and Romania, which joined in 2007 - remain recipients of major aid flows from the EU which will run until 2013, and these can be expected to cushion some of the shock of their financial troubles. </p> <p> But the financial hurricane that has hit the union&#39;s eastern flank also reverberates in the west, as Anand Menon notes in his <strong>openDemocracy</strong> article (see &quot;<a href="/article/europe-s-eastern-crisis-the-reality-test">Europe&#39;s eastern crisis: the reality-test</a>&quot;, 5 March 2009). After all, western-owned banks are in danger of being drained of capital by their crisis-hit owners, and western-owned industries located in the new member-states could become the first to be downsized. The ravaged financial markets themselves at least recognise integration and interdependence - for as the <a href="http://www.economist.com/world/europe/displaystory.cfm?story_id=13184594">east Europeans</a> see their currencies fall and export-markets vaporise, investors keen to offload their stocks see no difference between the stronger economies in the region and the ones (Latvia and Hungary in particular) where the crisis is biting especially hard. </p> <p> <strong>The turning-point</strong> </p> <p> The <a href="http://www.economist.com/world/europe/displaystory.cfm?story_id=13209335">retreat</a> from inclusiveness and solidarity evident before and during the Brussels summit is arguably not just a response to immediate events, but part of a wider problem in the European Union&#39;s sense of self and direction. Indeed, one response in &quot;deep&quot; Brussels to the financial crisis is to excavate the only half-buried feelings of nostalgia for the days of a smaller, more exclusive and manageable union. The implication is to see the <a href="http://europa.eu/scadplus/treaties/eec_en.htm">decades</a> when the European Union&#39;s precursors were composed of only six or nine or twelve states - when integration seemed to be happening, and <a href="http://ec.europa.eu/enlargement/the-policy/from-6-to-27-members/index_en.htm">additional members</a> seemed no more than a peripheral distraction from that aim - as the equivalent of a golden era. </p> <p> The proponents of this view have at heart never really accepted the logic of enlargement. They have also internalised a particular - and selectively misleading - <a href="/node/4456">narrative</a> of the European Union&#39;s history, which argues that the EU was set up as a federalist project to safeguard Europe against the threat of future wars. What this misses is that the creation of the EU was also a response to the Soviet Union&#39;s expansionist challenge after 1945, with a design that attempted to make the remilitarisation of West Germany palatable to the French. </p> <p> The effect of the disappearance of the external threat - with the disintegration in 1989-91 of the <a href="http://www.php.isn.ethz.ch/collections/colltopic.cfm?lng=en&amp;id=15697">Warsaw Pact</a>, the Comecon bloc, and the Soviet Union itself - was to make enlargement to the east the prime response to changing times. The dominant motif that survived the geopolitical convulsion was of a peaceful Europe whose member-states dedicated themselves to working in solidarity with each other towards an &quot;ever-closer union&quot;. As enlargement to the east progressed in the 1990s, however, this motif itself began to come under increasing strain. Now, in 2009, it is now set to be severely tested by Europe&#39;s share of the global financial crisis. </p> <p> In this light the current strains were to a degree foreordained by the way the cycle of <a href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/shared/spl/hi/europe/04/enlarging_europe/html/eu_expansion.stm">enlargement</a> - a policy that the EU stumbled into after 1989 as its main policy-tool for relations with its neighbours - has unfolded. The promise of EU membership was dangled before states emerging from Soviet hegemony as an incentive for political and economic reform. The approach worked - to the extent that all sides now accepted that significant reforms in an aspirant member can only be achieved if the membership &quot;carrot&quot; really exists. </p> <p> There is both &quot;negative&quot; and &quot;positive&quot; evidence for this. Turkey&#39;s pro-EU reform efforts have <a href="/article/the-european-union-and-turkey-strengthening-secularism">stalled</a> partly because Ankara no longer believes the EU is serious about its membership offer. The reforms in Ukraine are <a href="http://www.europeanvoice.com/article/imported/a-make-or-break-moment-for-ukraine's-political-elite/64181.aspx">chaotic</a> and half-hearted not just because of the country&#39;s internal political divisions but because the EU seems unable to open a real membership perspective for the country. The Balkan countries (including <a href="/article/kosovo-and-serbia-one-year-after-a-quiet-compromise">Serbia</a>) are finally gearing up to incorporate the EU&#39;s body of <a href="http://ec.europa.eu/enlargement/enlargement_process/accession_process/how_does_a_country_join_the_eu/negotiations_croatia_turkey/index_en.htm">law</a> - the <em>acquis</em> <em>communautaire</em> - because all believe they have a chance of joining the EU. </p> <p> But if enlargement to the east and southeast is becoming the EU&#39;s <em>raison d&#39;etre</em>, how long can it go on enlarging? The failures of success, after all, were already apparent in 2005 when voters in <a href="/democracy-europe_constitution/democractic_deficit_3610.jsp">France</a> and the <a href="/democracy-europe_constitution/holland_2567.jsp">Netherlands</a> voted in referendums against the constitutional treaty. A year after the major expansion of 2004, &quot;enlargement fatigue&quot; was becoming widespread in the EU&#39;s founding-states. </p> <p> <strong>The rear-view mirror</strong> </p> <p> The twinge of longing for a lost past in &quot;deep&quot; Brussels is paralleled in the revival of nationalist sentiments in several member-states - fuelled by the protectionist temptations that accompany economic dislocation. Even within the <a href="http://europa.eu/press_room/press_packs/crisis/index_en.htm">framework</a> of the European Union, the member-states - the larger and/or post-imperial ones especially - respond to the pressures of the time by pursuing national strategies that draw on only half-submerged memories of earlier grandeur. </p> <p> The Austrians are most interested in the territories that once belonged to the Austro-Hungarian empire. The French are <a href="/article/the-mediterranean-union-or-europe-s-bad-examples">absorbed</a> by the southern Mediterranean and north Africa. The Germans pursue their business-based romance with the Russians, confident that they are the only ones who can handle Moscow. The British, in classic balance-of-power mode, fret about the links between Germany and Russia and look for a policy in the east which could somehow provide a counterweight to this growing alliance. Even the Poles at a certain level &quot;remember&quot; their <a href="http://info-poland.buffalo.edu/classroom/maps/task4.html">pre-partition</a> frontier to the east, and focus on support for the states (Ukraine and Belarus) whose territory lies to the west of that line. </p> <p> The official response to the crisis in the European Union is to reaffirm the need for greater economic and political integration; to hold the single market together; and to maintain the four freedoms - the movement of goods, persons, services and capital - on which the EU is based. This is all very well, but the logic of the foregoing is that neither it nor an impossible return to the <a href="http://europa.eu/abc/history/index_en.htm">past</a> can address the more fundamental issue of the European Union&#39;s identity and purpose. </p> <p> It is clear that a new paradigm is <a href="http://eubookshop.com/1/187">needed</a> for European integration which takes into account post-1989 realities. That must include a genuine recognition that the present new member-states are indeed full-fledged members of the EU. A failure to do this will compound the dangers of the present moment. </p> <p> In London in the early 1940s, Paul-Henri Spaak - the exiled Belgian foreign minister who was to become one of the <a href="http://europa.eu/abc/history/foundingfathers/spaak/index_en.htm">architects</a> of post-war European integration - had a conversation with a colleague. Both had just emerged from a meeting about the creation of a federalist European <a href="http://www.historiasiglo20.org/europe/anteceden2.htm">order</a> with the Polish prime minister, <a href="http://sikorskimuseum.co.uk/">General Władysław Sikorski</a>, and other exiled representatives of European governments. </p> <p> Spaak&#39;s colleague remarked that he couldn&#39;t summon up much interest in the concerns of the central Europeans. <a href="http://www.fondationspaak.org/index.php?pgid=0&amp;lng=english">Spaak</a> replied that if we had taken more interest before the war in these concerns, then maybe we wouldn&#39;t be in London in the middle of a war which had driven them into exile. The sentiment is worth remembering today. It presents a challenge to the present generation of leaders: look back, to look forward. </p> <table border="0" cellspacing="5" cellpadding="5" width="500" height="200" bgcolor="#e3f2f9"> <tbody> <tr> <td>    <p> <strong>openDemocracy</strong> writers track the European Union&#39;s politics: </p> <p> Aurore Wanlin, &quot;<a href="/democracy-europe_constitution/six_lessons_4439.jsp">The European Union at fifty: a second life</a>&quot; (15 March 2007) </p> <p> Krzysztof Bobinski, &quot;<a href="/democracy-europe_constitution/bobinski_rome_4456.jsp">European unity: reality and myth</a>&quot; (21 March 2007) </p> <p> Frank Vibert, &quot;<a href="http://the%20european%20union%20in%202057/">The European Union in 2057</a>&quot; (22 March 2057) </p> <p> George Schőpflin, &quot;<a href="/democracy-europe_constitution/EU_Birthday_4463.jsp">The European Union&#39;s troubled birthday</a>&quot; (23 March 2007) </p> <p> Kalypso Nicolaïdis &amp; Philippe Herzog<strong>, &quot;</strong><a href="/democracy_power/future_europe/fifty_towards_new_single_act">Europe at fifty: towards a new single act</a>&quot; (21 June 2007) </p> <p> Krzysztof Bobinski, &quot;<a href="/democracy_power/future_europe/poland_confusion">The Polish confusion</a>&quot; (28 June 2007) </p> <p> Michael Bruter, &quot;<a href="/democracy_power/future_europe/europe_back_door">European Union: from backdoor to front</a>&quot; (3 July 2007) </p> <p> Kalypso Nicolaïdis &amp; Simone Bunse, &quot;<a href="/article/democracy_power/future_of_europe/eu_presidency">The ‘European Union presidency&#39;: a practical compromise</a>&quot; (10 October 2007) </p> <p> Katinka Barysch &amp; Hugo Brady, &quot;<a href="/article/democracy_power/europe_constitution/lisbon_reform_treaty">Europe&#39;s &quot;reform treaty&quot;: ends and beginnings</a>&quot; (18 October 2007) </p> <p> Ivan Krastev, &quot;<a href="/article/europe-s-trance-of-unreality">Europe&#39;s trance of unreality</a>&quot; (20 June 2008) </p> <p> Krzysztof Bobinski, &quot;<a href="/article/europe-after-lisbon">Europe&#39;s coal-mine, Ireland&#39;s canary</a>&quot; (21 June 2008) </p> <p> Ivan Krastev, &quot;<a href="/article/europe-s-other-legitimacy-crisis">Europe&#39;s other legitimacy crisis</a>&quot; (23 July 2008) </p> <p> Paul Gillespie, &quot;<a href="/article/the-european-union-and-russia-after-georgia">The European Union and Russia after Georgia</a>&quot; (10 September 2008) </p> <p> Krzysztof Bobinski, &quot;<a href="/article/europe-s-politics-of-self-and-others">Europe&#39;s politics of self - and others</a>&quot; (20 October 2008) </p> <p> John Palmer, &quot;<a href="/article/ireland-the-lisbon-treaty-and-europe-s-future">Ireland, the Lisbon treaty, and Europe&#39;s future</a>&quot; (16 December 2008) </p> <p> Dessy Gavrilova, &quot;<a href="/article/entropa-art-of-politics-heart-of-a-nation">Entropa: art of politics, heart of a nation</a>&quot; (16 January 2009) </p> <p> Anand Menon, &quot;<a href="/article/europe-s-eastern-crisis-the-reality-test">Europe&#39;s eastern crisis: the reality-test</a>&quot; (5 March 2009) </p> </td> </tr> </tbody> </table> democracy & power europe future of europe Krzysztof Bobinski Creative Commons normal email Mon, 09 Mar 2009 09:33:01 +0000 Krzysztof Bobinski 47469 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Europe’s politics of self - and others https://www.opendemocracy.net/article/europe-s-politics-of-self-and-others <style></style> <p> <style></style> </p> <p> It seems that even late in the 21st-century&#39;s first decade much of humanity is still living in the turn-of-the-millennium mood that half expects the world to come to an end. We went through it around the year 1,000 CE with all those millenarian sects. This time around, the approach to new year&#39;s eve 1999 was filled with febrile predictions of a worldwide computer crash. That didn&#39;t happen, but 9/11 kept the atmosphere going. Now, the financial crisis and its end-of-capitalism accompanying score has something of the same feel; and as if that were not enough, the dangers of climate change are an insistent drumbeat behind every public argument.<br /> <span class="pullquote_new">Krzysztof Bobiński is the president of Unia &amp; Polska, a pro-European think-tank in Warsaw. He was the <em>Financial Times&#39;s</em> Warsaw correspondent (1976-2000) and later published <a href="http://www.unia-polska.pl/index.php?id=13"><em>Unia &amp; Polska magazine</em></a>. He writes for <a href="http://www.europeanvoice.com/page/european-voice/1.aspx"><em>European Voice</em></a> and is an associate editor on the Europe section of <a href="http://www.europesworld.org/"><em>Europe&#39;s World</em></a><br /> <br /> Among Krzysztof Bobinski&#39;s articles in openDemocracy:<br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/node/2704">Democracy in the European Union, more or less</a>&quot; (27 July 2005)<br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/node/3085">The European Union&#39;s Turkish dilemma</a>&quot; (2 December 2005)<br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/node/3381">Belarus&#39;s message to Europe</a>&quot; (22 March 2006)<br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/globalization-institutions_government/poland_populist_3737.jsp">Poland&#39;s populist caravan</a>&quot; (14 July 2006)<br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/democracy-protest/hungary_europe_4038.jsp">Hungary&#39;s 1956, central Europe&#39;s 2006: beyond illusion</a>&quot; (27 October 2006)<br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/democracy-europe_constitution/bobinski_rome_4456.jsp">European unity: reality and myth</a>&quot; (21 March 2007)<br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/democracy_power/future_europe/poland_confusion">The Polish confusion</a>&quot; (22 June 2007)<br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/article/europe-after-lisbon">Europe&#39;s coal-mine, Ireland&#39;s canary</a>&quot; (20 June 2008)</span><br /> The other fears remain, and their admixture (<em>jihadism</em> plus nuclear weapons, or economic recession plus democratic rollback, for example) can make the post-millennial mood-music even darker. But with climate change, the <em>finis mundi</em> phenomenon is real, and demands a different order of coordinated, long-term policy-making. This time it&#39;s serious.  </p> <p> The European Union is doing its best to stave off the great flood by attempting to build its version of Noah&#39;s ark - namely, a programmatic <a href="http://ec.europa.eu/environment/climat/climate_action.htm">document</a> called the &quot;climate action and renewable energy package&quot;. The planned content is as ambitious as the timescale for completion (the end of 2008); it is designed to be so virtuous as to convince the rest of the world to match the carbon-emission reduction commitments the EU proposes to make at the climate-change conferences in <a href="http://www.cop14.gov.pl/index.php?lang=EN">Poznan</a> (1-12 December 2008) and <a href="http://www.cop15.dk/en">Copenhagen</a> (30 November-11 December 2009). </p> <p> In Europe, it can seem that it rains only to pour. It happened that the financial crisis that had for a time looked as if it might be confined to the United States hit Europe hard a few days before the European Union <a href="http://www.eu2008.fr/PFUE/lang/en/accueil/PFUE-10_2008/PFUE-15.10.2008/Conseil_europeen">summit</a> in Brussels on 15-16 October 2008. That issue naturally had to share equal billing at the top of the agenda with the scheduled headline matter - reviewing progress on the <a href="http://www.euractiv.com/en/climate-change/eu-climate-change-policies/article-117453">climate-change</a> package. European leaders thus found themselves facing two system-challenging phenomena at the same time. A difficult challenge at any time, even more when Europe is beset by a permanent agenda of unresolved items (<a href="/article/europe-and-the-georgia-russia-conflict">Russia</a>, energy, enlargement). </p> <p> <strong>Two crises for one</strong> </p> <p> It proved easier to make progress on policy towards the financial turmoil. Gordon Brown, the (previously) embattled British <a href="http://www.number10.gov.uk/">prime minister</a> - not known for his affection for the European Union - was able to use some of the credit he had built in launching a domestic bank-bailout plan to offer the assembled leaders advice about how Europe as a whole might face the crisis in the shorter term. Moreover, Brown had long pushed the idea of convening a major conference designed to look at the whole <a href="http://www.canadianeconomy.gc.ca/English/economy/1944Bretton_woods.html">Bretton Woods </a>system of international governance set up in 1944 and ask whether this model - embodied in the United Nations, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) - needs to be reformed in order to match the problems facing a very different world. This suggestion was adopted at the summit by <a href="/article/nicolas-sarkozy-the-frenetic-leader">Nicolas Sarkozy </a>(current holder of the EU as well as the French presidency). All in all, this part of the summit was a further triumph for Gordon Brown. </p> <p> There was somewhat less vision and more <a href="http://www.economist.com/world/europe/displaystory.cfm?story_id=12341574">difficulty</a> with regard to the climate-change package. Some countries, including Poland and Italy, have come to see this as a European plot aimed at destroying their industry. Indeed, so far has the debate moved that several European <a href="http://www.iht.com/articles/2008/10/20/business/climate.php">voices</a> seem to have forgotten the core purpose of the EU&#39;s climate policy - to cut back emissions of CO2, the main cause of anthropogenic global warming. In face of opposition and threats of veto by the two prime ministers - Italy&#39;s Silvio Berlusconi and Poland&#39;s <a href="http://www.kprm.gov.pl/english/s.php?bio=576">Donald Tusk</a> - the EU leaders stuck to their timetable to approve the package by December; but it seems inevitable that it will be watered down. </p> <p> Poland&#39;s objections centre on the plan to introduce auctions for permits to emit C02 in 2013. The European commission says this will raise electricity prices in the EU by an average of 20%, but Poland - whose generating system is coal-based - says its domestic prices will increase by as much as 100%. Thus, Poland wants the auction <a href="http://www.eubusiness.com/news-eu/1224337622.45">scheme</a> to be phased in to give more time for it to cut emissions; yet meanwhile the country is doing very little to conserve energy or put in place alternative, renewable energy sources. </p> <p> The contrast in the way the two headline issues were discussed at the summit is marked - in terms both of unity (on finance) versus division (on climate change); and of the absence of debate (certainly in the new member-states like Poland) on climate change about the implications for Europe&#39;s relations with the rest of the world and the way the world will need to develop in the aftermath of the most pressing current crises. </p> <p> <style></style>This paucity of debate is a pity, for much could have been learned about the inevitable coming <a href="http://www.euractiv.com/en/climate-change/brussels-readies-tough-climate-negotiations/article-176457">negotiation</a> between those member-states which want to weaken the package (and the European commission) and those which want to maintain it. In turn, this will be a dress-rehearsal for the conversation the rich post-industrial countries of Europe are bound to have with &quot;the rest&quot; (led by China and India). </p> <p> <span class="pullquote_new">In openDemocracy on Europe, climate change, and financial turmoil:<br /> <br /> Dieter Helm, &quot;<a href="/globalization-institutions_government/europe_energy_4251.jsp">Europe&#39;s energy future: in the dark</a>&quot; (16 January 2007)<br /> <br /> Mats Engström, &quot;<a href="/democracy-europe_constitution/green_power_4471.jsp">Europe&#39;s green power</a>&quot; (26 March 2007)<br /> <br /> John Palmer, &quot;<a href="/democracy/power/future_europe/next_steps">Europe&#39;s next steps</a>&quot; (26 June 2007)<br /> <br /> Christoph Neidhart, &quot;<a href="/article/globalisation/climate_change/old_europe_new_china">The Malthusian energy-trap: old Europe, new China</a>&quot; (13 December 2007)<br /> <br /> Avinash Persaud, &quot;<a href="/article/europe-s-financial-crisis-the-integration-lesson">Europe&#39;s financial crisis: the integration lesson</a>&quot; (7 October 2008)<br /> <br /> </span>On the European Union side, the Poles and other recent member-states are saying that they need more time to implement the proposals. Those which have coal-based power systems producing more C02 would have to shift to gas or nuclear-power to make a palpable difference in emissions - but that would either strengthen Russia&#39;s hand (as a major gas-supplier) or raise the <a href="http://www.chernobyl.info/">Chernobyl</a>-spectre (which is still strong in east-central Europe). </p> <p> The other European states have to consider these circumstances. It needs to get the climate package right - for if it doesn&#39;t, how can it conduct a credible negotiation with China and India and the rest? These emerging giants see no reason why they should curtail their growth to mitigate the global-warming problem which was produced by the richer countries. </p> <p> <strong>Together, safer</strong> </p> <p> These dilemmas cannot be evaded at the world climate-change conference in Poznan (<a href="http://unfccc.int/meetings/cop_14/items/4481.php">December 2008</a>) and Copenhagen (<a href="http://www.roadtocopenhagen.org/">November-December 2009</a>). There was a foretaste in a preparatory conference of environment ministers from more than thirty countries in Warsaw on 13-14 October. The <a href="http://www.iht.com/articles/ap/2008/10/12/europe/EU-Poland-Climate-Change.php">meeting</a> was surprisingly amicable. After all, what links environment ministers is their common dislike and mistrust - not of each other, but of their colleagues from their finance / economy ministries. In addition, they share a belief in the climate-change threat and the need to address it; they are divided only over the question of who is going to pay for cleaning up the damage and how much this will cost. </p> <p> In Warsaw, delegates from western countries pleaded that funds could not come from their budgets. This explains why they said that <a href="http://ec.europa.eu/environment/climat/emission/index_en.htm">emissions-trading schemes</a> (ETS) were the only way to raise money - which means the burden of cost will fall either on the power companies or (more likely) on consumers in the polluting countries. The advanced countries and those which don&#39;t pollute (but which are already being hit by changes in the weather) were united in asking why ETS schemes were so difficult to implement. The contrast between the financial crisis and the climatic was invoked conveniently here. &quot;It took a few days to find  billions to prop up the financial system&quot;, said one Warsaw attendee, &quot;but when it comes to the fate of poorer countries then the problems mount&quot;. </p> <p> Gordon Brown is quite right to say that the world&#39;s governance of its affairs has to change, and that the post-1945 order has changed so much that new actors such as China and India (as well as Brazil, South Africa, and others) have to be given leading roles. The debate about what to do about climate change (including who is to pay) is in its way an extension of the aid debate. But it is no longer simply a moral issue. If the future of the planet (or at least the low- lying bits of it) is at stake, then political leaders will have to start showing a little more leadership and imagination when talking about the future. </p> <p> The European summit showed that Europe&#39;s leaders can show leadership and imagination when it comes to defending the interests of their voters. But there is still a little way to go when it comes to recognising that the problems Europe and the world faces are all interconnected. Maybe the big global-governance <a href="http://www.dw-world.de/dw/article/0,2144,3723940,00.html">conference</a> before the end of 2008 can help them focus on that one.  </p> <style></style> Science democracy & power europe future of europe Climate change Krzysztof Bobinski Creative Commons normal email Mon, 20 Oct 2008 18:08:07 +0000 Krzysztof Bobinski 46548 at https://www.opendemocracy.net The Caucasus effect: Europe unblocked https://www.opendemocracy.net/article/the-caucasus-effect-europe-unblocked <!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> 72 544x376 </xml><![endif]--><!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> Normal 0 false false false </xml><![endif]--><!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> </xml><![endif]--><style> </style><!--[if gte mso 10]> <style> /* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name:"Table Normal"; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-parent:""; mso-padding-alt:0cm 5.4pt 0cm 5.4pt; mso-para-margin:0cm; mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:10.0pt; font-family:"Times New Roman"; mso-ansi-language:#0400; mso-fareast-language:#0400; mso-bidi-language:#0400;} </style> <![endif]--> <p> The headlines in Poland&#39;s main daily newspapers were unanimous. Nicolas Sarkozy&#39;s visit to Moscow and Tbilisi on 8 September 2008 to seek assurances from the Russians that they would withdraw their troops to the positions they held before the outbreak of war with Georgia on 7-8 August was a failure. &quot;Sarkozy failed to take the Kremlin&quot;, declared one; &quot;Russia dictates to Europe&quot;, proclaimed another; &quot;Sarkozy defeated. Peace with Georgia possible only on Russia&#39;s terms&quot;, shouted a third. </p> <p> <!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> 72 544x376 </xml><![endif]--><!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> Normal 0 false false false </xml><![endif]--><!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> </xml><![endif]--><!--[if !mso]> <object classid="clsid:38481807-CA0E-42D2-BF39-B33AF135CC4D" id=ieooui> </object> <style> st1\:*{behavior:url(#ieooui) } </style> <![endif]--><style> </style><!--[if gte mso 10]> <style> /* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name:"Table Normal"; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-parent:""; mso-padding-alt:0cm 5.4pt 0cm 5.4pt; mso-para-margin:0cm; mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:10.0pt; font-family:"Times New Roman"; mso-ansi-language:#0400; mso-fareast-language:#0400; mso-bidi-language:#0400;} </style> <![endif]--> </p> <p class="pullquote_new"> <br /> Krzysztof Bobiński is the president of Unia &amp; Polska, a pro-European think-tank in Warsaw. He was the <em>Financial Times&#39;s</em> Warsaw correspondent (1976-2000) and later published <a href="http://www.unia-polska.pl/index.php?id=13"><em>Unia &amp; Polska magazine</em></a>. He writes for <a href="http://www.europeanvoice.com/page/european-voice/1.aspx"><em>European Voice</em></a> and is an associate editor on the Europe section of <a href="http://www.europesworld.org/"><em>Europe&#39;s World</em></a><br /> <br /> Among Krzysztof Bobinski&#39;s articles in <strong>openDemocracy</strong>:<br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/node/2704">Democracy in the European Union, more or less</a>&quot; (27 July 2005)<br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/node/3085">The European Union&#39;s Turkish dilemma</a>&quot; (2 December 2005)<br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/node/3381">Belarus&#39;s message to Europe</a>&quot; (22 March 2006)<br /> <br /> &quot;<strong><a href="/globalization-institutions_government/poland_populist_3737.jsp">Poland&#39;s populist caravan</a></strong>&quot; (14 July 2006)<br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/democracy-protest/hungary_europe_4038.jsp">Hungary&#39;s 1956, central Europe&#39;s 2006: beyond illusion</a>&quot; (27 October 2006)<br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/democracy-europe_constitution/bobinski_rome_4456.jsp">European unity: reality and myth</a>&quot; (21 March 2007)<br /> <br /> &quot;<strong><a href="/democracy_power/future_europe/poland_confusion">The Polish confusion</a></strong>&quot; (22 June 2007) <br /> <br /> &quot;<strong><a href="/article/europe-after-lisbon">Europe&#39;s coal-mine, Ireland&#39;s canary</a></strong>&quot; (20 June 2008)<br /> </p> <p> The reaction ran counter to Mikheil Saakashvili&#39;s obvious relief at his press conference with Sarkozy and José Manuel Barroso (president of the European commission) that evening at the result the French president had managed to achieve (see Paul Gillespie, &quot;<a href="/article/the-european-union-and-russia-after-georgia">The European Union and Russia after Georgia</a>&quot;, 10 September 2008). A <a href="http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/russia/2706827/Georgia-crisis-Nicolas-Sarkozy-hails-breakthrough-in-talks-with-Russia.html">pledge</a> of withdrawal by 1 October and the insertion of observers from the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) into the space between the Russians, their South Ossetian and Abkhazian supporters and the Georgians was obviously welcome to Georgia&#39;s pressurised president. </p> <p> But just as attitudes throughout Europe towards Russia are beginning to stiffen, so stereotypes in Poland (and most probably throughout the new European Union member-states and elsewhere in the post-Soviet space) remain strong. Indeed they include more than a touch of <em>Schadenfreude</em> at the dilemmas Sarkozy faces. The local <a href="http://wyborcza.pl/0,86871,4728582.html">newspapers</a>, the radio and the television talk-show hosts all almost palpably yearn for more evidence of western weakness and gullibility in the face of Russian might and brutal deception. They all seem to want the EU to fail to resolve the crisis, to be seen to be fragile and craven. &quot;We knew all along what they, the Russians, are like and you are still unwilling to believe us&quot;, is the near-universal underlying sentiment. </p> <p> <strong>A region moves</strong> </p> <p> This reaction shows that there is still a gulf between the western European way of doing things and perceptions in new member-states such as Poland. But if truth be told, Poland&#39;s government (which is not to be confused with the country&#39;s president, <a href="http://www.president.pl/x.node?id=479">Lech Kaczynski</a>) has remained remarkably calm and indeed is ready - despite what has happened in Georgia - to continue a dialogue with the Russians. </p> <p> Indeed, that is only one of the pigs which, quite unexpectedly, has flown across the skies in the five weeks since the end of the major hostilities in Georgia on 12 August. The aftermath of the brutal conflict promises both to be long and to bring significant changes to the EU&#39;s relationship with Russia. The most difficult question to answer is whether Moscow will decide that it wants a fruitful relationship with the west or choose a not-so-splendid isolation (see Ivan Krastev, &quot;<a href="/article/russia-and-the-georgia-war-the-great-power-trap">Russia and the Georgia war: the great-power trap</a>&quot;, 19 August 2008). </p> <p> The signals remain mixed. But there are at least four other developments since the Caucasus events which overturn settled views of what is occurring, and suggest that the Georgia crisis has jolted governments into becoming more imaginative in revising longstanding and seemingly intractable positions. </p> <p> First, the <a href="http://www.dw-world.de/dw/article/0,2144,3637378,00.html">visit</a> by the Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov to Warsaw on 11 September 2008, so soon after the Russians had threatened to punish Poland for President Kaczynski&#39;s <a href="http://www.polskieradio.pl/zagranica/news/artykul90920_Mikheil_Saakashvili_grateful_for_Poland_s_support.html">foray</a> to Tbilisi and his public promise to fight for a free Georgia; and indeed, after growls by Russian military leaders that Poland would become a nuclear <a href="http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/europe/article4541613.ece">target</a> if the American anti-missile base was installed there. </p> <p> Second, who would have expected that Poland would be one of the first to call on the European Union to lift sanctions against Alexander Lukashenko&#39;s <a href="/globalization-institutions_government/belarus_freedom_4498.jsp">regime</a> in Belarus? After all, it is Polish NGOs and members of the European parliament (MEPs) who have been most strident in their condemnation of one of Europe&#39;s last authoritarians. Not long ago, any mention of detente with Minsk brought instant criticism. </p> <p> Third, the remarks made almost in passing by the Finnish foreign minister Alexander Stubb in a <a href="http://formin.finland.fi/Public/default.aspx?contentid=135322&amp;nodeid=15145&amp;culture=en-US">speech</a> to Finnish ambassadors and an <a href="http://euobserver.com/13/26664">interview</a> with <em>Die Presse</em> (Austria) to the effect that his country might consider joining Nato. True, Finland&#39;s president and prime minister almost immediately scorned the <a href="http://www.hs.fi/english/article/Stubb+NATO+comments+raise+questions/1135239120512">suggestion</a>; but the fact is that Stubb (who played a significant <a href="http://www.hs.fi/english/article/Finnish+and+French+foreign+ministers+hold+talks+with+Georgian+President/1135238523104">mediating</a> role alongside Sarkozy in the Georgia-Russia conflict) said it and thus challenged an enduring consensus in Helsinki on keeping an equal distance in military terms between Russia and the west. </p> <p> Fourth, and most amazing of all, Turkey&#39;s President Abdullah Gul travelled to Yerevan on the occasion of an Armenia-Turkey <a href="http://www.uefa.com/uefa/keytopics/kind=64/newsid=747371.html">football</a> match and met his Armenia counterpart <a href="http://www.eurasianet.org/armenia08/gallery/serzh.shtml">Serzh Sarkisian</a>. The unprecedented <a href="http://www.iwpr.net/?p=crs&amp;s=f&amp;o=346641&amp;apc_state=henh">visit</a> to Armenia by a Turkish head of state, against the background of the bitter controversy over the issue of the 1915 genocide and the absence of diplomatic relations between the two countries, has great political as well as symbolic significance. It reflects how keen Turkey is to help stabilise the situation in the Black Sea, resolve the crisis in the Caucasus and keep Nato warships (its own excepted) at a safe distance in the Mediterranean. </p> <p> <!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> 72 544x376 </xml><![endif]--><!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> Normal 0 false false false </xml><![endif]--><!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> </xml><![endif]--><style> </style><!--[if gte mso 10]> <style> /* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name:"Table Normal"; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-parent:""; mso-padding-alt:0cm 5.4pt 0cm 5.4pt; mso-para-margin:0cm; mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:10.0pt; font-family:"Times New Roman"; mso-ansi-language:#0400; mso-fareast-language:#0400; mso-bidi-language:#0400;} </style> <![endif]--> </p> <p class="pullquote_new"> <br /> Among <strong>openDemocracy&#39;s </strong>articles on the fallout of the Georgia-Russia war of August 2008:<br /> <br /> Donald Rayfield, &quot;T<a href="/article/the-georgia-russia-conflict-lost-territory-found-nation">he Georgia-Russia conflict: lost territory, found nation</a>&quot; (13 August 2008)<br /> <br /> Neal Ascherson, &quot;<a href="/article/after-the-war-recognising-reality-in-abkhazia-and-georgia">After the war: recognising reality in Abkhazia and Georgia</a>&quot; (15 August 2008)<br /> <br /> George Hewitt, &quot;<a href="/article/abkhazia-and-south-ossetia-heart-of-conflict-key-to-solution">Abkhazia and South Ossetia: heart of conflict, key to solution</a>&quot; (18 August 2008)<br /> <br /> Ivan Krastev, &quot;<a href="/article/russia-and-the-georgia-war-the-great-power-trap">Russia and the Georgia war: the great-power trap</a>&quot; (19 August 2008)<br /> <br /> Ghia Nodia, &quot;<a href="/article/russian-war-and-georgian-democracy">Russian war and Georgian democracy</a>&quot; (22 August 2008)<br /> <br /> Fred Halliday, &quot;<a href="/article/the-miscalculation-of-small-nations">The miscalculation of small nations</a>&quot; (24 August 2008)<br /> <br /> Robert Parsons, &quot;<a href="/article/georgia-after-war-the-political-landscape">Georgia after war: the political landscape</a>&quot; (26 August 2008)<br /> <br /> Vicken Cheterian, &quot;<a href="/article/georgia-the-rose-revolution-s-forgotten-legacy">Georgia&#39;s forgotten legacy</a>&quot; (3 September 2008)<br /> <br /> Rein Müllerson, &quot;<a href="/article/the-world-after-the-russia-georgia-war">The world after the Russia-Georgia war</a>&quot; (5 September 2008)<br /> <br /> Paul Gillespie, &quot;&quot;<a href="/article/the-european-union-and-russia-after-georgia">The European Union and Russia after Georgia</a>&quot; (10 September 2008)<br /> <br /> </p> <p> The Turkish decision over <a href="/article/democracy_power/caucasus_fractures/armenia_election">Armenia</a> was taken within the context of Istanbul&#39;s wider &quot;Caucasus platform&quot; initiative - which would bring Georgia, Russia, Armenia, Azerbaijan and Turkey into an organisation promoting regional cooperation and <a href="http://www.c-r.org/our-work/accord/nagorny-karabakh/large-map.php">reconciliation</a>. If this were to succeed, it might help in the search for a solution to the <a href="/article/the-georgia-russia-conflict-lost-territory-found-nation">problem</a> of South Ossetia and Abkhazia as well as the dispute between Armenia and Azerbaijan <a href="/democracy-caucasus/nagorno_reality_4184.jsp">over</a> Nagorno-Karabakh. </p> <p> <strong>A time to look </strong> </p> <p> The Turkish dimension of the Georgia-Russia fallout may have deeper reverberations. Turkey won <a href="http://www.hurriyet.com.tr/english/home/9838512.asp?gid=244&amp;sz=33491">credit</a> for its bold gesture from both Nicolas Sarkozy (current holder of the European Union presidency) and <a href="http://ec.europa.eu/commission_barroso/rehn/index_en.htm">Olli Rehn</a> (the EU&#39;s enlargement commissioner). This raises the possibility that relations between Turkey and the EU might soon emerge from their present doldrums; indeed, given the above shifts in policy and attitude in the past five weeks, is it unthinkable that the French president might begin to reconsider his opposition to Turkey&#39;s membership of the EU? </p> <p> The crisis has also brought Ukraine and its EU membership <a href="http://ec.europa.eu/external_relations/ukraine/index_en.htm">aspirations</a> into the spotlight. Who would have expected even in early summer 2008 that a British foreign minister would fly urgently to Kyiv (Kiev) and deliver a strident call of support for Ukraine&#39;s right to chose its own path, as <a href="http://www.fco.gov.uk/en/newsroom/latest-news/?view=Speech&amp;id=5619709">David Miliband</a> did on 27 August? But the new concern that Russia might pose a risk to Ukraine&#39;s independence has seen the EU edging <a href="http://www.kyivpost.com/nation/29644">closer</a> to a commitment to the country&#39;s eventual membership. </p> <p> Here, the Turkey and Ukraine situations come together. For it is notable that Turkey&#39;s Caucasus platform does not include Ukraine. Since the early 1990s, Ankara has preferred to improve relations with Moscow (the devil the Turks know) rather than with Kyiv (which is more of an unknown quantity). But Turkey knows full well that Ukraine is a major potential source of tension in the Black Sea with its <em>de facto</em> dispute over the Russian fleet in Sevastopol, which erupted during the blessedly short Georgian war. The lease for the port runs out in 2017 when Ukraine looks set to ask the fleet to go. </p> <p> There is undoubtedly a role for European Union policy in the Black Sea. Romania and Bulgaria are, after all, now EU members and a Black Sea regional-cooperation formula bringing in all the littoral states including Russia could be a useful complement to the Caucasus platform. The EU&#39;s regional neighbourhood initiative, the <a href="http://www.blacksea-cbc.net/">Black Sea Basin Joint Operational Programme</a>, could offer a framework for shared action here (see Neal Ascherson, &quot;<a href="/article/after-the-war-recognising-reality-in-abkhazia-and-georgia">After the war: recognising reality in Abkhazia and Georgia</a>&quot;, 15 September 2008). </p> <p> The crisis has also given a much needed lease of life to the search for a common EU energy policy. Here, if anywhere, Poland should be taking advantage of the apparent change of heart towards Russia by public opinion in France and Germany, and growing concern in Germany in particular over a dependency on Russian energy supplies. </p> <p> Thus, the Georgian push into South Ossetia on the night of 7-8 August 2008 and the Russian military response has set in motion a number of processes in Europe, the <a href="http://www.randomhouse.co.uk/catalog/book.htm?command=Search&amp;db=main.txt&amp;eqisbndata=009952046X">Black Sea region</a> and even central Asia. A number of long neglected problems (such as <a href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/country_profiles/3658938.stm">Nagorno-Karabakh</a> and the Armenia-Turkey dispute, as well as South Ossetia and Abkhazia themselves) have come into sharp focus. </p> <p> Across Europe, attitudes towards Russia have hardened. Any further delays in the withdrawal of Russian troops from Georgia proper will compound <a href="http://www.dw-world.de/dw/article/0,2144,3645788,00.html">tensions</a>. The European Union foreign ministers meeting in Brussels on 15 September 2008 who <a href="http://www.dw-world.de/dw/article/0,2144,3645793,00.html">confirmed</a> the despatch of 200 EU observers to Georgia under the terms of the 8 September agreement are well aware that this is a stage in a longer process. </p> <p> But under the surface, the changes which have happened in the month since the height of the Georgia-Russia conflict have been missed by Polish newspapers editors at least. They may also be underestimating Nicolas Sarkozy or Angela Merkel&#39;s resolve in the face of Russian intransigence over Georgia. Europe since the armed confrontation of August 2008 ended has become a more interesting place. Clear eyes and open minds will be needed if it is to become a safer place too. Clinging to stereotypes does the latter aim no good at all. </p> democracy & power europe caucasus: regional fractures future of europe Krzysztof Bobinski Creative Commons normal Tue, 16 Sep 2008 19:18:42 +0000 Krzysztof Bobinski 46226 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Europe’s coal-mine, Ireland’s canary https://www.opendemocracy.net/article/europe-after-lisbon <p> The <a href="/democracy-europefuture/article_339.jsp">stork</a> stood on one leg in the nest on the barn roof, gazing serenely out over the fields in central Poland. Below, the weekender <em>dachistas</em> chattered over their nibbles and wine in the balmy evening air. The party came just after the Irish had voted no in their 12 June 2008 <a href="http://electionsireland.org/results/referendum/refdetail.cfm?ref=2008R">referendum</a> on the European Union&#39;s Lisbon treaty, threatening the very existence of the &quot;reform treaty&quot; which an EU of twenty-seven or more member-states desperately needs if it is to prosper and develop. The result was just a day old, but it was that evening&#39;s Greece v Russia match in the European football championship that generated the excitement among the assembled guests. </p> <p class="pullquote_new"> The third edition of the <strong><em>openDemocracy Quarterly</em></strong> contains a selection of our articles since 2001 on Europe&#39;s politics, identity, and future. For details and how to buy, click <a href="/quarterly">here</a> </p> <p> Many were veterans of the anti-communist dissident movement who had done well out of the period after 1989: members of a new middle-class now coasting towards retirement. The guests were interested in politics but not interested enough about politics in the EU to comment at any length on the crisis that 862,415 Irish people (53.4% of those voting) had brought on the 491 million-strong European Union by saying &quot;no&quot; to the <a href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/6901353.stm">Lisbon treaty</a>. It was just another sign of the lack of connection people feel with the EU - even in today&#39;s Poland, which has everything to gain from a functioning <a href="https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/ee.html">union</a> and a lot to lose if the EU was to fade away. </p> <p> Some of that sense of unreality seems to have pervaded the Irish referendum campaign. The Irish, both safe (even more after the political settlement in Northern Ireland) and self-absorbed thanks to their relative isolation, used the plebiscite to work out their fears and frustrations on a political establishment led by the hapless new <a href="http://www.taoiseach.gov.ie/index.asp?locID=241&amp;docID=-1"><em>taoiseach</em></a>, Brian Cowen. As the campaign rumbled on, the Irish seemed unaware that their failure to ratify the treaty might create dangers for their fellow EU members in east-central Europe, let alone pitch the union itself into crisis. But the unreality ended with the Irish vote itself: for the referendum verdict has highlighted very real problems in the EU. </p> <p> <span class="pullquote_new"><strong>Krzysztof Bobi</strong><strong>ń</strong><strong>ski</strong> is the president of Unia &amp; Polska, a pro-European think-tank in Warsaw. He was the <em>Financial Times&#39;s</em> Warsaw correspondent (1976-2000) and later published <a href="http://www.unia-polska.pl/index.php?id=13"><em>Unia &amp; Polska magazine</em></a>. He writes for <a href="http://www.europeanvoice.com/page/european-voice/1.aspx"><em>European Voice</em></a> and is an associate editor on the Europe section of <a href="http://www.europesworld.org/"><em>Europe&#39;s World</em></a><br /> <br /> Also by Krzysztof Bobinski in <strong>openDemocracy</strong>:<br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/339">A stork&#39;s eye view from Poland&quot;</a> (25 May 2001)<br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/1878">Poland&#39;s nervous ‘return&#39; to Europe</a>&quot; (29 April 2004)<br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/democracy-europe_constitution/europeanreferendum_2532.jsp">Poland&#39;s letter to France: please say oui!</a>&quot; (23 May 2005)<br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/2704">Democracy in the European Union, more or less</a>&quot; (27 July 2005)<br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/3085">The European Union&#39;s Turkish dilemma</a>&quot; (2 December 2005)<br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/3381">Belarus&#39;s message to Europe</a>&quot; (22 March 2006)<br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/globalization-institutions_government/poland_populist_3737.jsp">Poland&#39;s populist caravan</a>&quot; (14 July 2006)<br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/democracy-protest/hungary_europe_4038.jsp">Hungary&#39;s 1956, central Europe&#39;s 2006: beyond illusion</a>&quot; (27 October 2006)<br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/democracy-europe_constitution/bobinski_rome_4456.jsp">European unity: reality and myth</a>&quot; (21 March 2007)<br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/democracy_power/future_europe/poland_confusion">The Polish confusion</a>&quot; (22 June 2007) </span><strong>The echo</strong> </p> <p> The leaders of the EU member-states who gathered for their summit in Brussels on <a href="http://consilium.europa.eu/cms3_fo/showPage.asp?id=668&amp;lang=en">19-20 June</a> listened with sympathy to <a href="http://www.taoiseach.gov.ie/index.asp?locID=189&amp;docID=-1">Brian Cowen</a> as he asked for time to digest the result of the referendum. He also warned that any solutions the Irish came up with would have to be agreeable to Ireland&#39;s partners as well as to his own country. In a word, this was a plea for the EU not to isolate Ireland in the search for a viable outcome. </p> <p> Against this, the calls by other European leaders for the Lisbon treaty&#39;s ratification process to be continued seemed to reflect a determination to bring the treaty into force - which would require the Irish to be persuaded (as over the Nice treaty in <a href="http://www.unizar.es/euroconstitucion/Treaties/Treaty_Nice_Rat_Ireland.htm">2001-02</a>) to come up with a &quot;yes&quot; next time. After all the treaty has to be ratified by everyone - and that means everyone. That the Irish referendum decision thus reverberates across the entire union was <a href="http://www.europeanvoice.com/article/2008/06/1622/ireland-in-spotlight-at-eu-summit/61330.aspx">reflected</a> in the Brussels summit discussions, where the theme of &quot;listening&quot; to the Irish verdict mixed with concern over the particular position of the <a href="http://www.vlada.cz/en/eu/default.html">Czech Republic</a>, whose constitutional court has yet to ratify the treaty and whose president (Vaclav Klaus) is a vehement <a href="http://www.klaus.cz/klaus2/asp/clanek.asp?id=UxePJS9zbK7c">critic</a> of the EU and its works. </p> <p> For the Poles and the other member-states, the crisis is a very real one, even if their intellectuals prefer to talk about something else at their summer parties. The centre-right Civic Platform (<a href="http://www.platforma.org/">PO</a>) administration elected in <a href="/article/democracy_power/politics_protest/poland_election">October 2007</a> has adopted a much more positive stance towards the EU, making the Eurosceptic excesses of its Law &amp; Justice (<a href="http://www.pis.org.pl/main.php">PiS</a>) predecessor a distant memory. The Polish prime minister Donald Tusk, mindful of warnings that some of the older member-states were thinking once again of a union in which some countries would move ahead with integration leaving others behind, responded to the Irish vote by stressing the need for the EU to stay together. </p> <p> &quot;At all costs we must avoid a scenario in which the EU begins to function at two speeds&quot;, Tusk said on 13 June, the day the referendum result was announced. He thus sought to will away the nightmare that his country would once again find itself on the margins of a disparate EU, a point echoed in his <a href="http://www.polskieradio.pl/thenews/foreign-affairs/?id=85200">comment</a> on the eve of the Brussels gathering: &quot;Nobody can ignore the Irish and divide the EU into better and worse countries&quot;. </p> <p> In other respects the sense of disappointment is palpable. Warsaw wants a more closely integrated EU, including in foreign policy so that Brussels can address several major issues: conduct a sensible and united policy towards Russia, develop a common energy policy, focus on what to do about the next phase of enlargement (Croatia and southeast Europe, <a href="/article/turkeys-judicial-political-crisis">Turkey</a>) and when to do it. In addition, the EU&#39;s debates about future budget policy and agricultural policy are vital for <a href="http://www.economist.com/world/europe/displaystory.cfm?story_id=11579390">Poland&#39;s future</a>. These priorities will now be on hold as the union faces another round of <a href="http://europa.eu/institutions/index_en.htm">institutional</a> debate and self-examination about its &quot;democratic deficit&quot;. </p> <p> <strong>The wake</strong> </p> <p> This of course is not a bad thing in itself, for the Irish referendum process and result . There were real issues at stake in the Irish referendum and the EU leaders meeting in Brussels might have reflected that, if they had dared to invite the people of their own countries to vote on the treaty, they could well now be facing a similar predicament to the Irish government&#39;s. </p> <p> <a href="http://www.allenandunwin.com/default.aspx?page=94&amp;book=9781741147216">Brendan Gleeson</a>, an Australian academic who has been following the situation in Ireland noted in an interview with Austria&#39;s <a href="http://www.news.at/profil/"><em>Profil</em></a> magazine that &quot;the ‘no&#39; campaign is in some ways a children&#39;s crusade of various conservative and anxious interests....generally fearful about the rapid modernisation that Ireland has undergone in the past fifteen years&quot;. He adds that the &quot;crusade was led from behind by business interests fearful of further regulatory harmonisation&quot;. There is in addition the feeling shared by other small and medium-sized states that in an EU of twenty-seven or more, their voice is neither being listened to nor heeded by the large states. The <a href="/article/the-lisbon-treaty-and-the-irish-voter-democratic-deficits">damaged authority</a> of an Irish political elite which people are coming to trust less and less is but the local manifestation of a Europe-wide phenomenon. The fear that the EU is seeking to impose its values &quot;from above&quot; is widely articulated. These are the ingredients of a potent cocktail with different national flavours that is catching on and will not go away soon. </p> <p> This is why the EU has to take a close look at what happened in Ireland and think about ways of closing the apparent gulf between the EU, its member- states and their citizens. Referenda are probably not a good way of taking decisions, especially in an organisation of close to 500 million people with a tradition of representative not direct democracy (see in this context the debate between <a href="/article/the-referendum-populism-vs-democracy">George Schöpflin</a> and <a href="/article/referenda-democracy-vs-elites">Gisela Stuart</a> in <strong>openDemocracy</strong> after Ireland&#39;s vote). No wonder the professional politicians are at a loss as to how to handle a referendum campaign and lose to amateurs like <a href="http://www.entrepreneursforgrowth.org/AA8D8/Board/Declan_J_Ganley.aspx">Declan Ganley</a>, a businessman and one of the leaders of the <a href="http://www.libertas.org/">Irish &quot;no&quot; campaign</a>. But if the EU is to survive it needs to find ways to rebuild democratic legitimacy of the kind which (in the older member-states at least) appears to have drained away. </p> <p> <span class="pullquote_new">Also in openDemocracy on the European Union&#39;s predicament:<br /> <br /> Joseph Curtin &amp; Johnny Ryan, &quot;<a href="/article/the-lisbon-treaty-and-the-irish-voter-democratic-deficits">The Lisbon treaty and the Irish voter: democratic deficits</a>&quot; (13 June 2008)<br /> <br /> George Schőpflin, &quot;<a href="/article/the-referendum-populism-vs-democracy">The referendum: populism vs democracy</a>&quot; (16 June 2008)<br /> <br /> Gisela Stuart, &quot;<a href="/article/referenda-democracy-vs-elites">Referenda: democracy vs elites</a>&quot; (17 June 2008) </span><strong>The test</strong> </p> <p> It is worth reiterating in this context that on most recent occasions when a political leadership has asked its people to endorse a decision about Europe, it has failed to get a &quot;yes&quot;. The pattern of failure, from Denmark&#39;s vote on Maastricht in 1992 to the <a href="/democracy-europe_constitution/democractic_deficit_3610.jsp">French</a> and <a href="/democracy-europe_constitution/holland_2567.jsp">Dutch</a> votes on the constitutional treaty in 2005, has been consistent. The Irish referendum result has brought it again into sharp outline. </p> <p> There is a communist-era <a href="http://www.orionbooks.co.uk/HB-41644/Hammer-And-Tickle.htm">joke</a> about what would happen when the centrally planned economy had triumphed throughout the world. Well, said the planners - one small country would have to be kept on a free-market regime so that they would know what real price levels were as a reference-point for their decisions. A generation and a <a href="http://europa.eu/abc/history/index_en.htm">historical</a> cycle later, Ireland has come to play that role for the European Union (a body, moreover, often caricatured by its opponents as another overweening superstate that flattens national voices and rights). As the ratification of the Lisbon treaty is pushed through the parliaments of the other twenty-six member-states with little debate, it has been left to the Irish to show the rest of the union that the EU faces deep political dilemmas it must address if it is to avoid even greater crises in the future. </p> Can Europe make it? future of europe europe: after the constitution democracy & power europe Krzysztof Bobinski Creative Commons normal Sat, 21 Jun 2008 14:02:57 +0000 Krzysztof Bobinski 45124 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Poland’s generational shift https://www.opendemocracy.net/article/poland_s_generational_shift <p> The euphoric mood still lingers in Poland, especially in the major cities like Warsaw which voted so decisively on <a href="http://wybory2007.pkw.gov.pl/SJM/EN/WYN/W/index.htm">21 October 2007</a> to get rid of the traditionalist Law &amp; Justice (PiS) party government and its leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski. &quot;It was like 1989 all over again&quot;, said one art-gallery owner savouring the moment once again a week later. &quot;The internet fora were buzzing with talk of politics that night&quot;, she recalls exultantly, &quot;even the apolitical chat groups like the golf enthusiasts&quot;. </p> <p class="pullquote_new"> Krzysztof Bobinski works at the Unia &amp; Polska Foundation, a pro-European NGO in Warsaw. He was the Financial Times&#39;s correspondent in Warsaw.<br /> <br /> Also by Krzysztof Bobinski in openDemocracy:<br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/globalization-institutions_government/poland_populist_3737.jsp">Poland&#39;s populist caravan</a>&quot; (14 July 2006)<br /> <br /> &quot; <a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/democracy_power/future_europe/poland_confusion">The Polish confusion</a>&quot; (22 June 2007)<br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/democracy-europefuture/article_339.jsp">A stork&#39;s eye view from Poland</a>&quot; (May 2001)<br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/democracy-ukraine/article_1878.jsp">Poland&#39;s nervous ‘return&#39; to Europe</a>&quot; (April 2004)<br /> <br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/node/2704">Democracy in the European Union, more or less</a>&quot; (July 2005)<br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/democracy-europe_constitution/turkish_dilemma_3085.jsp">The European Union&#39;s Turkish dilemma</a>&quot; (December 2005)<br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/democracy-protest/hungary_europe_4038.jsp">Hungary&#39;s 1956, central Europe&#39;s 2006: beyond illusion</a>&quot; (27 October 2006)<br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/democracy-europefuture/debate.jsp">European unity: reality and myth</a>&quot; (21 March 2007) </p> <p> The election victory of the pro-business Civic Platform (<a href="http://www.platforma.org/">PO</a>) lifted the gloom which for the past <a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/democracy-protest/ironic_2963.jsp">two years</a> of PiS government had enveloped those in Poland who had hoped that European Union entry in 2004 would throw <a href="http://www.angus-reid.com/polls/view/28804/poles_stand_by_their_eu_membership">open the doors</a> to a modern, outward-looking society. </p> <p> The reaction was matched on the other side: Lech Kaczynski, the president and the outgoing prime minister&#39;s <a href="http://www.dw-world.de/dw/article/0,2144,2084785,00.html">twin</a> brother, refused for almost a week to comment on the result. The memory of this sullen silence will probably be enough to demolish <a href="http://www.president.pl/x.node?id=479">Lech Kaczynski&#39;</a>s chances of re-election as president in 2010. </p> <p> After the euphoria, however, there must be a touch of caution. It should be remembered that the PO&#39;s victory - on a high (in terms of recent Polish history) 55% <a href="http://wybory2007.pkw.gov.pl/SNT/EN/WYN/F/index.htm">turnout</a> and a 42% share of the poll - was due as much to a desire to get rid of the incumbents as to any deep conviction that their opponents represented a significant improvement in the quality of the politicians who will now be leading Poland (see Neal Ascherson, &quot;<a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/article/democracy_power/politics_protest/poland_election">Poland after PiS: handle with care</a>&quot;, 26 October 2007). </p> <p> For as the PO worked on putting together a coalition government with the rural-based Polish Peasants&#39; Party (<a href="http://www.psl.org.pl/">PSL</a>), three salient facts of the election campaign showed that the future could bring surprises for the new government. </p> <p> <strong>The election&#39;s runes</strong> </p> <p> The first is that the issue of corruption was at the centre of the contest, activating citizens who had not voted in the previous election in September 2005. The PiS constantly reiterated that it had been relentless in fighting corruption and would continue to do so if re-elected. The PO acknowledged that corruption was a major problem but that the methods employed by the <a href="http://www.pis.org.pl/main.php">PiS</a> were reprehensible. These included a disregard for the autonomy of institutions and more than a whiff of suspicion that the PiS was <a href="http://www.gazetawyborcza.pl/1,82049,4593239.html">targeting</a> its political opponents rather than actual or potential wrongdoers. </p> <p> The <a href="http://www.dw-world.de/dw/article/0,2144,2833849,00.html">result</a> showed that a majority of the electors agreed with the PO. But this party - led by the youthful if lacklustre Donald Tusk - has never been very strong on the need to combat corruption. If it lets the issue slip from its agenda now that it has achieved power, then the PiS (whose 32% of the vote makes it the largest opposition party) will surely remind voters of the fact - and it will be eagerly listened to. </p> <p> The second fact is the <a href="http://www.economist.com/countries/Poland/profile.cfm?folder=Profile%2DEconomic%20Data">economic background</a> of the election. Poland&#39;s high annual economic growth (around 6% in the past two years), whose effects include falling unemployment and rising wages, helped to bolster the PiS&#39;s electoral performance. Indeed, a government presiding over such figures <a href="http://www.polskieradio.pl/zagranica/gb/dokument.aspx?iid=64752">should never</a> have lost an election. </p> <p> The key point here is that the PO should enjoy such results for another year or two. It will also begin to oversee the inflow in 2007-13 of European Union funds worth €67 billion ($97 billion), as well significant remittances from the hundreds of thousands of Poles working abroad. If the PO-PSL government sets in train a coherent programme involving cost-cutting public-spending reforms, privatisation and more foreign investment, the boom could continue through its four-year term and deliver an election victory in 2011. If it does nothing then the economy will slow and the new <a href="http://www.polskieradio.pl/zagranica/gb/dokument.aspx?iid=65076">coalition&#39;s</a> chances of re-election diminish. </p> <p> The third fact, and the most important, is the generational factor in the Polish campaign. This is something which the politicians seem not to have noticed, yet it has great implications for politics in coming years - not only in <a href="http://go.hrw.com/atlas/norm_htm/poland.htm">Poland</a> but also in the other post-Soviet states. </p> <p class="pullquote_new"> openDemocracy writers track Polish politics and governance:<br /> <br /> * Neal Ascherson, &quot;<a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/node/2806">The victory and defeat of Solidarność</a>&quot; (6 September 2005)<br /> <br /> * Adam Szostkiewicz, &quot;<a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/democracy-protest/poland_2858.jsp">The Polish lifeboat</a>&quot; (22 September 2005)<br /> <br /> * Karolina Gniewowska, &quot;<a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/democracy-protest/minefield_2863.jsp">The Polish minefield</a>&quot; (23 September 2005)<br /> <br /> * Marek Kohn, &quot;<a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/globalization-institutions_government/election_poland_2957.jsp">Poland&#39;s beacon for Europe</a>&quot; (25 October 2005)<br /> <br /> * Neal Ascherson, &quot;<a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/democracy-protest/poland_church_4237.jsp">Catholic Poland&#39;s anguish</a>&quot; (11 January 2007)<br /> <br /> * Neal Ascherson, &quot;<a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/democracy-journalismwar/kapuscinski_4286.jsp">Ryszard Kapuscinski: from Poland to the world</a>&quot; (25 January 2007)<br /> <br /> * Zygmunt Dzieciolowski, &quot;<a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/article/globalisation/institutions_government/poland_dictionary">The Polish dictionary</a>&quot; (22 August 2007)<br /> <br /> * Ivan Krastev, &quot;<a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/article/globalisation/institutions_government/populist_poland">Sleepless in Sczeczin: what&#39;s the matter with Poland?</a>&quot; (19 October 2007)<br /> <br /> * Neal Ascherson, <a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/article/democracy_power/politics_protest/poland_election">&quot;Poland after PiS: handle with care</a>&quot; (26 October 2007) </p> <p> The factor can be measured in numerical terms, by the unprecedented mobilisation of young people who had failed to turn out in such numbers in previous elections. They did so this time not because they saw much intrinsic value in the politicians they were voting for but because they sensed that PiS&#39;s traditionalist, xenophobic approach in domestic and foreign policy marked a big threat to their future as citizens of a normal European country in a normal Europe. Until now many young people unhappy with the ways things were going under the PiS have &quot;voted with their feet&quot; and left Poland to find work in (especially) Britain or <a href="http://www.rte.ie/news/2007/1021/poland.html">Ireland</a>. A large number of them visited the embassies and consulates in their <a href="http://www.aniaspoland.com/?p=Polish%20Election%202007">new domicile</a> to vote in the election against the PiS. But their contemporaries who have stayed at home, hitherto uninterested in politics, also chose to register their <a href="http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2007/10/21/wpoland121.xml">concern</a> through the ballot-box. </p> <p> But this generational factor can also be measured in terms of the political and social transformation it represents. The even greater historic significance of this moment is that an 18-year-old first-time voter on 21 October 2007 would have been born after <a href="http://www.poland.gov.pl/The,Round,Table,and,the,Polish,road,to,democracy,367.html">4 June 1989</a>, the date of the election which put paid to <a href="http://www.cambridge.org/us/catalogue/catalogue.asp?isbn=9780521711173">communist rule</a> in Poland for ever. That person will have been brought up and educated in conditions of complete freedom of speech, freedom of travel, in a functioning parliamentary democracy, in a sovereign country and with access to goods in the shops limited only by their parents&#39; incomes, a job market and attendant unemployment. In a word these young people, and each year there will be more of them, have been living in an entirely different country from their elders. </p> <p> <strong>A history in contraflow</strong> </p> <p> For this new set of young Poles, the legitimacy which the current set of politicians draw on is becoming irrelevant. Such cyclical change, and the conflict between generations that accompanies it, is routine - but it is exceptional that a society contains successive generations with such entirely different starting-points. It does happen in, for example, post-colonial countries where those born after independence come to adulthood; and something similar happened in Germany in 1968, when the post-war generation reacted violently to its parents&#39; and grandparents&#39; silence about their pre-war and wartime experiences (see Ivan Krastev, &quot;<a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/article/globalisation/institutions_government/populist_poland">Sleepless in Sczeczin: what&#39;s the matter with Poland?</a>&quot;, 19 October 2007). </p> <p> The <a href="http://www.angus-reid.com/tracker/view/28190/kaczynski_twins_face_revamped_opposition">election</a> has begun to reveal the singular consequences of this phenomenon in Poland. Most notable is that the legitimacy which politicians on both sides of the divide derive from their record in the struggle against communism is becoming an abstraction. This election showed that they don&#39;t know it yet. In the heat of a <a href="http://www.polskieradio.pl/zagranica/gb/dokument.aspx?iid=61628">televised debate</a>, the PiS leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski called the PO&#39;s Donald Tusk the Czeslaw Kiszczak of our time. Tusk shot back with the taunt that Kaczynski was behaving like Jerzy Urban. For anyone over 45 the exchange was immediately recognisable. Kiszczak was minister of the interior when martial law was introduced in December 1981 to crush the anti-communist <a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/node/2806">Solidarity</a> movement; Urban was the talented if cynical propagandist of the martial-law regime. The 18-year-old would have to ask who these people were. That is if she or he was at all interested. For young Poles, such names are ancient history. </p> <p> This new generation has yet to articulate its detailed concerns and its leaders have yet to emerge. However the election has showed its force, and the ballot-box gave the new generation an instrument to wield that force. Poland is the first of the post-Soviet countries where young people have shown that they don&#39;t want their elders to blight their future with their complexes about the outside world and their anachronistic feuds. </p> <p> This new self-confident generation is also present in the other post-Soviet European Union member-states and it should exert a benign influence on their futures. There are great numbers of young people in places like Moldova, Ukraine and Russia who will also make their presence felt. But - and here too a touch of caution is appropriate - without the framework of the European Union and its accompanying feeling of security, their choices may be more authoritarian than that of their contemporaries inside the EU. In Poland&#39;s recent election, young people in particular rejected the paranoid view of the world represented by the PiS. That may not be true further to the east. </p> democracy & power Globalisation institutions & government politics of protest Krzysztof Bobinski Creative Commons normal Thu, 01 Nov 2007 11:51:21 +0000 Krzysztof Bobinski 35001 at https://www.opendemocracy.net The Polish confusion https://www.opendemocracy.net/the_polish_confusion <p>Partners behave better towards each other during the courtship than they do after a year or two of marriage. Poland&#39;s ruling Kaczynski twins - Lech, the <a href="http://www.president.pl/x.node?id=479">president</a>, and Jaroslaw, prime minister - are currently reminding the European Union of this self-evident truth. Candidates for EU membership tend to say and do the right things. Things begin to get tense after they get in.</p><p>After the debacle of a debate on the outlines of the new &quot;reform&quot; treaty at the Brussels summit of <a href="http://www.eu2007.de/en/Meetings_Calendar/Dates/June/0621-ER.html">21-22 June 2007</a> (which snatched a last-minute working <a href="http://www.euractiv.com/en/future-eu/eu-treaty-deal-meets-praise-criticism/article-164921">agreement</a> from potential disaster), more than a few leaders in the EU must be asking themselves: do we really need many more new member-states like this? This is a pity for Warsaw, because - Eurosceptic as they are - even the Kaczynski twins acknowledge Poland needs an EU ready to countenance further enlargement to the east and sensible policies towards Russia. The Balkan countries are also going to have to be taken in if the region is to stay <a href="/node/2585">stable</a>. But the way the Polish leaders are behaving, the present member-states are going to think long and hard before they countenance the prospect of ever smaller and ever more distant states being accepted into the club and given the opportunity of displaying a petulant, suspicious or disruptive attitude to collective decision-making.</p><p><span class="pullquote_new">Also on the European Union&#39;s Brussels summit in <strong>openDemocracy</strong>: John Palmer, &quot;<a href="/democracy_power/europe_constitution/britain_charter_fundamental_rights">Europe: the square root of no</a>&quot; (20 June 2007) <br /><br />Kalypso Nicolaïdis &amp; Philippe Herzog, &quot;<a href="/democracy_power/future_europe/fifty_towards_new_single_act">Europe at fifty: a new single act</a>&quot; (21 June 2007) <br /><br />John Palmer, &quot;<a href="/democracy/power/future_europe/next_steps">Europe&#39;s next steps</a>&quot; (26 June 2007) </span></p><p>&quot;The problem is that we see the veto as a conventional weapon, whereas the old member-states see it as a nuclear weapon.&quot; <a href="http://www.cls-sofia.org/cgi-bin/public/index.cgi?lang=1&amp;topic=users&amp;id=2">Ivan Krastev</a>, the Bulgarian intellectual (and <strong>openDemocracy</strong> <a href="/author/Ivan_Krastev.jsp">contributor</a>) succinctly and intelligently summed up the problem of differing political cultures which threaten to dish the prospect of further enlargement once and for all. In Brussels, it must be acknowledged that the Kaczynskis in the end drew back from hitting the &quot;nuclear&quot; button to do a deal with their European partners, one they were able to present back home as a <a href="http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601085&amp;sid=avFnzVTSRJFM&amp;refer=europe">success</a>. But they exasperated these partners in the process - and the emotional <a href="http://www.iht.com/articles/2007/06/24/news/poland.php">bruises</a> will remain. </p><p>The whole incident shows that the present Polish government and, unfortunately the larger part of the Polish media, are labouring under a series of misconceptions. The opposition led by the pro-business <em>Platforma Obywatelska</em> (Civic Platform /<a href="http://www.platforma.org/index.php/en/history"> PO</a>), fearful of appearing less nationalistic than the twins, are doing little to clear up these misunderstandings. They are, unfortunately, going to make <a href="http://www.poland.gov.pl/The,priorities,of,Polish,European,policy,459.html">relations</a> between Poland and the European Union worse before they get better. The least that can be done at this stage is to itemise the five elements of this Polish confusion, to clear the way for an eventual more enlightened policy. </p><p><strong>A fivefold misunderstanding</strong></p><p>The first misconception is that Europe is fated to be perpetually stuck at the end of the second world war in 1945, facing the problem is how to arrange the affairs of the continent in such a way as to counter a resurgence of German might. In fact the rest of Europe has moved on leaving the Kaczynskis in a <a href="http://www.dw-world.de/dw/article/0,2144,2637484,00.html">time-warp</a>. Europe is currently struggling to resolve the problems of the end of the cold war when the key issue is how to knit together a divided Europe, with its differing political traditions, economic potential and historical traumas; and, as part of that, how far to continue with <a href="http://europa.eu/pol/enlarg/index_en.htm">incorporating</a> the east and the southeast of the continent to construct a secure and politically and economically viable European project.</p><p><span class="pullquote_new"><strong>Krzysztof Bobinski</strong> works at the <a href="http://www.eureferenda.org/">Unia &amp; Polska Foundation</a>, a pro-European NGO in Warsaw. He was the <em>Financial Times&#39;s</em> correspondent in Warsaw. <br /><br />Also by Krzysztof Bobinski in <strong>openDemocracy</strong><strong>:</strong> <br /><br />&quot;<a href="/democracy-europefuture/article_339.jsp">A stork&#39;s eye view from Poland</a>&quot; (May 2001) <br /><br />&quot;<a href="/democracy-ukraine/article_1878.jsp">Poland&#39;s nervous ‘return&#39; to Europe</a>&quot; (April 2004) <br /><br />&quot;<a href="/democracy-europe_constitution/europeanreferendum_2532.jsp">Poland&#39;s letter to France: please say <em>oui</em>!</a>&quot; (May 2005) <br /><br />&quot;<a href="/democracy-europe_constitution/yes_2704.jsp">Democracy in the European Union, more or less</a>&quot; (July 2005) <br /><br />&quot;<a href="/democracy-europe_constitution/turkish_dilemma_3085.jsp">The European Union&#39;s Turkish dilemma</a>&quot; (December 2005) <br /><br />&quot;<a href="/globalization-institutions_government/belarus_message_3381.jsp">Belarus&#39;s message to Europe</a>&quot; (March 2006) <br /><br />&quot;<a href="/globalization-institutions_government/poland_populist_3737.jsp">Poland&#39;s populist caravan</a>&quot; (14 July 2006)<br /><br />&quot;<a href="/democracy-protest/hungary_europe_4038.jsp">Hungary&#39;s 1956, central Europe&#39;s 2006: beyond illusion</a>&quot; (27 October 2006)<br /><br />&quot;<a href="/democracy-europe_constitution/bobinski_rome_4456.jsp">European unity: reality and myth</a>&quot; (21 March 2007)</span> </p><p>The second misconception is that the European Union has become or is becoming an instrument of domination over Europe for an increasingly self-confident Germany, a country which (so the argument <a href="http://www.dw-world.de/dw/article/0,2144,2634189,00.html">runs</a>) is ever less inclined to remember its past and, ominously, is determined to pursue its national interests. The Kaczynskis forget that the European Union is part of the post-1945 settlement which <a href="/democracy-europe_constitution/bobinski_rome_4456.jsp">aimed</a> at integrating Germany and thus removing the threat of domination by force once and for all. </p><p>If you assume, as the Kaczynskis do, that the EU is an instrument of German domination then it makes perfect sense to do everything in your power to <a href="http://www.telegraph.co.uk/opinion/main.jhtml?xml=/opinion/2007/06/27/do2705.xml">weaken</a> the organisation, which is what they&#39;re out to do. They forget though that it is the EU, largely thanks to Germany, which will be providing €60 billion ($80 billion) of development aid to Poland up to 2014. They forget that the EU is part of the <em>solution</em> of &quot;Europe&#39;s German problem&quot;. It follows that, if you really are worried about Germany, undermining the EU only makes things worse. It also undermines the body which is best suited to face in a united way the challenge of a newly <a href="/globalization-institutions_government/russia_empire_4589.jsp">self-confident Russia</a>. Indeed the EU removes that age-old Polish nightmare of being left alone to face simultaneously a <a href="http://www.spiegel.de/international/europe/0,1518,489510,00.html">hostile Germany</a> and Russia.</p><p>The third misconception is the mixing of Poland&#39;s bilateral relations towards Germany with the country&#39;s European policy. Thus in present-day Warsaw any look at future institutional arrangements for the EU neglects any consideration of how the organisation will work as a whole - from Lisbon to Tallinn, Dublin to Athens; instead, the exclusive focus is on how the system might affect the Polish government&#39;s prospects of prevailing in the arm-wrestling match it now sees itself conducting with the Germans.</p><p>The fourth misconception is that the voting system in the council of ministers serves to help countries block rather than to arrive at decisions. Thus prime minister <a href="http://www.kprm.gov.pl/english/21.htm">Jaroslaw Kaczynski</a>, now accepted as the cannier of the twins, defended the decision to drop Poland&#39;s proposal for a square-root-based voting system (&quot;we realised we had absolutely no chance of getting the EU to accept it&quot;, he concluded - after earlier threatening to defend the system to the death) by saying that the deal arrived at Brussels made it easier for Poland to block decisions. In fact the aim of the exercise was to streamline decision-making as the EU gets bigger, and to make sure that the big states retain a voice concomitant with their size and status.</p><p>During the summit Poland&#39;s foreign minister <a href="http://www.msz.gov.pl/Main,page,2.html">Anna Fotyga</a> said that Lech Kaczynski was a good historian and therefore he and his brother were entitled to remind the Germans of Poland&#39;s 6 million war dead. Therein lies a fifth misconception. If the Kaczynski&#39;s were good historians and not merely anachronistic politicians then they would remember their wartime forbears, who in <a href="http://www.museumoflondon.org.uk/English/Collections/Onlineresources/RWWC/themes/1275/1197">London</a> planned for federal solutions in a post-war Europe as a way of avoiding the <em>de facto</em> isolation which led to their country&#39;s downfall in 1939. Now Poland under the twins finds itself enjoying poor relations with Germany and Russia and faces the prospect of that very same isolation. Thankfully for the rest of us the situation isn&#39;t as serious as it was almost seventy years ago. After all Poland is, still, in the European Union. </p> Can Europe make it? future of europe europe: after the constitution democracy & power Krzysztof Bobinski Creative Commons normal Thu, 28 Jun 2007 17:18:31 +0000 Krzysztof Bobinski 33415 at https://www.opendemocracy.net European unity: reality and myth https://www.opendemocracy.net/democracy-europefuture/bobinski_rome_4456.jsp <p>Few of today&#39;s Europeans looking at a photograph of the event will be able to recognise the twelve politicians who <a href="http://www.historiasiglo20.org/europe/traroma.htm" target="_blank">signed</a> the Treaty of Rome on 25 March 1957 which established the European Economic Community (EEC). Konrad Adenauer, the first West German chancellor and post-war icon, will spark some recollection; Joseph Luns (Dutch foreign minister and future Nato secretary-general) and Paul-Henri Spaak (Belgian foreign minister) will be familiar to many of their compatriots; <a href="http://www.iue.it/ECArchives/EN/WH.shtml" target="_blank">Walter Hallstein</a>, the first head of the European commission will be well known to students of European studies. But even these statesmen, and certainly most of their companions, will seem to a modern generation of Europeans anonymous, remote figures from a distant age.</p><div><div class="pull_quote_article"><p><b>Krzysztof Bobinski works at the <a href="http://www.eureferenda.org/">Unia & Polska Foundation</a>, a pro-European NGO in Warsaw. He was the <em>Financial Times'</em> correspondent in Warsaw.</b></p> <p><b>Also by Krzysztof Bobinski in openDemocracy:</b></p> <p><b> "<a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/democracy-europefuture/article_339.jsp">A stork&#146;s eye view from Poland</a>" <br />(May 2001) </b></p> <p><b> "<a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/democracy-europe_constitution/yes_2704.jsp">Democracy in the European Union, more or less</a>" <br />(July 2005) </b></p> <p><b> "<a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/democracy-europe_constitution/turkish_dilemma_3085.jsp">The European Union&#146;s Turkish dilemma</a>" <br />(December 2005) </b></p> <p><b> "<a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/globalization-institutions_government/belarus_message_3381.jsp">Belarus's message to Europe</a>" <br />(March 2006) </b></p> <p><b> "<a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/globalization-institutions_government/poland_populist_3737.jsp">Poland's populist caravan</a>" <br />(14 July 2006) </b></p> <p><b> "<a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/democracy-protest/hungary_europe_4038.jsp"> Hungary&#146;s 1956, central Europe&#146;s 2006: beyond illusion</a>" <br />(27 October 2006) </b></p> </div> <p>The European Union&#39;s grand <a href="http://europa.eu/50/index_en.htm" target="_blank">narrative</a>, reflected in many histories of modern Europe, tells it differently. These twelve men are credited with formative achievements: signing a treaty that opened the way to the formation of an organisation in Europe which (at the Berlin summit of <a href="http://www.eu2007.de/en/Meetings_Calendar/Dates/March/0324-RAA.html" target="_blank">24-25 March 2007</a>) celebrates its fiftieth anniversary; which, for all the doubts it raises in its (now) twenty-seven member-states, has many countries clamouring to get in; and which - above all - is credited with preserving peace in post-war Europe. In this official version, these twelve men are far-sighted architects of an epic political project. <br /></p><p>The EU mythology of the <em>p&egrave;res fondateurs</em> has the great men of Europe staring out across the war-wasted cities and farms of our continent, saying &quot;war - never again!&quot;, and committing themselves to <a href="http://europa.eu/abc/history/index_en.htm" target="_blank">European unity</a>. And - <em>voila</em>! - the deed was done. </p> <p>A look at the documents and memoirs of the period paints a more <a href="http://us.penguingroup.com/nf/Book/BookDisplay/0,,0_9781594200656,00.html" target="_blank">complex picture</a>, one which shows that the project was (as today) never an easy one. Why, for example, did these architects of a united Europe take twelve years after the cessation of hostilities in Europe in May 1945 to arrive at Rome? The question suggests another: was it indeed the second world war which gave birth to the European project, or was it rather the cold war?</p><p>Stefan Glazer, a Polish diplomat representing the Polish <a href="http://www.poland.pl/archives/ww2/article,,id,40832.htm" target="_blank">government-in-exile</a>, sent a revealing report from Brussels to his superiors in London in May 1945 (two months later, the communist regime was to take over his embassy when the western allies withdrew recognition from the London government). It said that the plans for federation which had been discussed in the early 1940s between exiled governments (Dutch, Czechs, Belgians - including Spaak) now seemed forgotten. Glazer noted that as the war ended, everyone was thinking in terms of bilateral agreements. </p> <p>Glazer was in a position to know. After all, he had been involved in the wartime talks which saw the exiled government of <a href="http://www.poland.gov.pl/Wladyslaw,Sikorski,%281881-1943%29,1973.html" target="_blank">Wladyslaw Sikorski</a> pressing for a Polish-Czechoslovak federation, as well as federative links with others. The Polish exiled leaders were fully aware that the freedom of countries such as Poland after the war could only be secured through a pooling of sovereignty in larger federal groupings.</p> <p>The arrival of the Red Army in central Europe in 1944-45 in <a href="http://yalepress.yale.edu/yupbooks/book.asp?isbn=0300078137" target="_blank">full chase</a> after the retreating Germans put paid to such ideas. The Soviet Union made it clear to Prague that it didn&#39;t want any talk of federations in Europe, especially with the Poles. </p><p>But by 1946-47 it was the evolving perception of a Soviet threat to western Europe which gave the cause of European unity the push it needed to get underway. From the late 1940s, it appears that - for all the talk of establishing peace in Europe which undoubtedly did motivate the proponents of European integration - the main driving force behind the European project was the need to rearm the Germans and put them on the frontline of the cold war without alarming the French. And a key role here was played by the <a href="http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml;sessionid=RFXOIHUFMLM03QFIQMFCM5WAVCBQYJVC?xml=/news/2000/09/19/wspy19.xml&amp;secureRefresh=true&amp;_requestid=7007" target="_blank">Americans</a>, who were wholeheartedly behind the plan (with the CIA pouring buckets of money into the <a href="http://www.europeanmovement.org/history.cfm">European Movement</a> to boot). <br /></p></div><div><div class="pull_quote_article"><p>Also in openDemocracy on the European Union&#146;s past, present and future: </p> <p> Frank Vibert, "<a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/democracy-europe_constitution/wrong_debate_3666.jsp">Absorption capacity&#146;: the wrong European debate</a>" (21 June 2006) </p><p>Aurore Wanlin, "<a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/democracy-europe_constitution/adieu_3694.jsp">Adieu, Europe?</a>"<br /> (29 June 2006) </p> <p>Anthony Barnett, "<a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/democracy-europe_constitution/european_citizens_3975.jsp">The birth of Europe? </a>"<br /> (9 October 2006) </p> <p>John Palmer, "<a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/democracy-europe_constitution/germany_4356.jsp">Germany and Europe: the pull of unity</a>"<br /> (16 February 2007) </p> <p>Aurore Wanlin, "<a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/democracy-europe_constitution/six_lessons_4439.jsp">The European Union at fifty: a second life</a>"<br /> (15 March 2007) </p> </div>The reintegration of Germany after the war underpinned the thinking behind the European Coal and Steel Community (<a href="http://europa.eu/scadplus/treaties/ecsc_en.htm" target="_blank">ECSC</a>) established in 1951 by Robert Schuman, at the urging of <a href="http://www.jean-monnet.net/usmain1.html" target="_blank">Jean Monnet</a>; and the need to have Germany rearmed but safe for its allies was behind the attempt to establish a European Defence Force (EDF), which faltered in 1954 when the French national assembly failed to ratify the plan. The failure of the EDF was no less a shock then than the failure to ratify the European <a href="http://europa.eu/scadplus/glossary/constitution_en.htm" target="_blank">constitution</a> by France and the Netherlands in 2005. But by then Nato - headed by the Americans - was in place to face the challenge; and there was enough independent momentum in the European project to switch to the construction of a free market in Europe through the Messina conference (1955) and on to the Treaty of Rome. <p>It is interesting to note that the <a href="http://www.eu-history.leidenuniv.nl/index.php3?c=52" target="_blank">Messina declaration</a> devotes a lot of space to a common energy policy and the development of nuclear energy, an important current preoccupation for the EU. It is also interesting in the way that the struggle between the integrators and those resistant to further integration continued, then as now, all the time. Indeed, the foreign ministers at Messina only committed themselves to study the issues they set down as aims. Spaak then turned what was presented as a mere study commitment into the draft Rome treaty. This <a href="http://www.historiasiglo20.org/europe/anteceden2.htm" target="_blank">in turn</a> set the basis for a &quot;common market&quot; among the six (France, Italy, Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg), which preserved the idea of a body which would look after the common interest of the member-states working together in an EEC on the way to an &quot;ever-closer union&quot;.</p><p><strong>The people on the stage</strong></p> <p>What has changed, <a href="http://www.bundesregierung.de/nn_6538/Content/EN/Artikel/2007/03/2007-03-19-bkin-merkel-in-rom__en.html" target="_blank">fifty years on</a>? Well, the Soviet threat has gone and the Americans have lost interest in the European project (indeed, they seem at times to be irritated by it). The Germans are still at the centre of the scheme but fear of that country has much abated. On defence, the project seems to gone full circle as the union once again talks of a defence identity, but this time around wondering who the enemy might be. Indeed the cold war substantially helped the <a href="http://eubookshop.com/1/187" target="_blank">European project</a> by providing a common foe. </p> <p>What has not changed is that national politicians are still fighting about how far to go down the integration route, with national interests very much at the heart of the debate. But there is a twist: with the onset of referenda as a way of taking decisions in Europe, matters are to an extent out of the national leaders&#39; hands. In a sense it was enough for Paul-Henri Spaak to talk all night to his French opposite number at their hotel in Sicily in 1955 to get the French to accept the need for a common market, when all they initially wanted to agree to was an extension of the ECSC into a number of selected fields. True, they then needed national parliaments to ratify their agreements. Now, whole electorates have to be brought on board. Would the men who brought about the Treaty of Rome have been able to rise to <em>that</em> challenge?</p></div> Can Europe make it? future of europe europe: after the constitution democracy & power europe Krzysztof Bobinski Original Copyright Best of 2007 Wed, 21 Mar 2007 00:00:00 +0000 Krzysztof Bobinski 4456 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Hungary's 1956, central Europe's 2006: beyond illusion https://www.opendemocracy.net/democracy-protest/hungary_europe_4038.jsp <p> Hungary has been providing a double spectacle this week, as commemorations of the <a href="http://www.rev.hu/index_en.html%20/" target="_blank">anniversary</a> of the 1956 uprising against the Soviets collide with ongoing opposition protests against the governing social-democrat-led coalition. Amazingly the two events ran into one when several Hungarian-flag-waving demonstrators, under pressure from the riot police, drove off a T-34 tank from a display of arms used by the Soviets to crush the 1956 revolt. </p> <p> The past and present, in their minds and surely in the minds of many other Hungarians, had run together. But what are the real links? </p> <p> The current wave of opposition demonstrations has lasted ever since tapes of a party meeting addressed by prime minister Ferenc Gyurcsány were broadcast on <a href="http://www.angus-reid.com/analysis/index.cfm/fuseaction/viewItem/itemID/13324">17 September 2006</a>. The recording (made in May, a few days after his <em>Magyar Szocialista Párt </em>[Hungarian Socialist Party] was re-elected) admitting that the government had consistently lied about the true state of the Hungarian economy. The opposition led by <a href="/democracy-newright/article_358.jsp" target="_self">Viktor Orbán&#39;s</a> Fidesz party cried foul and called for Gyurcsány&#39;s and the government&#39;s resignation. </p> <p> Gyurcsány has resisted the demands, mindful of the fact that Fidesz&#39;s inflationary pre-election promises had also ignored the dire state of the budget and current-account deficits. Indeed his admission of political mendacity had been designed to shock his supporters into supporting the tough measures needed to rectify Hungary&#39;s dire macroeconomic situation. </p> But Hungarians also explain that the reason for the ferocious antagonism between the two sides - the ex-communists and the anti-communists - is that responsibility for the pre-1989 period has never really been admitted by the social democrats (the inheritors of the ruling party of the Soviet-era, the <em>Magyar Szocialista Munkáspárt </em>[Hungarian Socialist Workers&#39; Party]. It is felt that they have not been blamed and shamed but rather have, thanks to the democratic changes, returned to power themselves, thus managing to survive the transition as well as anyone. <div class="pull_quote_article"> <div class="pull_quote"> <strong>Krzysztof Bobinski works at the <a href="http://www.eureferenda.org/" target="_blank">Unia &amp; Polska Foundation</a>, a pro-European NGO in Warsaw. He was the <em>Financial Times&#39;s</em> correspondent in Warsaw.</strong><strong> <p> Also by Krzysztof Bobinski in openDemocracy: </p> <p> &quot;A stork&#39;s eye view from Poland&quot; (<a href="/democracy-europefuture/article_339.jsp">May 2001</a>) </p> <p> &quot;Poland&#39;s nervous &#39;return&#39; to Europe&quot; <br /> (<a href="/democracy-ukraine/article_1878.jsp">April 2004</a> ) </p> <p> &quot;Poland&#39;s letter to France: please say oui! (<a href="/democracy-europe_constitution/europeanreferendum_2532.jsp">May 2005</a>) </p> <p> &quot;Democracy in the European Union, more or less&quot; (<a href="/democracy-europe_constitution/yes_2704.jsp">July 2005</a>) </p> <p> &quot;The European Union&#39;s Turkish dilemma&quot; (<a href="/democracy-europe_constitution/turkish_dilemma_3085.jsp">December 2005</a>) </p> <p> &quot;Belarus&#39;s message to Europe&quot; (<a href="/globalization-institutions_government/belarus_message_3381.jsp">March 2006</a>) </p> <p> &quot;Poland&#39;s populist caravan&quot; (<a href="/globalization-institutions_government/poland_populist_3737.jsp">14 July 2006</a>) </p> </strong> </div> <p> <strong>The limits of freedom</strong> </p> <p> The flag-waving tank-hijackers rightly recall that in 1956 their grandparents were fighting for freedom against the communists backed by a Soviet Union bent on suppressing that freedom. The parallel ends there. Then the communists were imposed on Hungary by Stalin. The present government was freely <a href="/globalization-institutions_government/hungary_election_3515.jsp" target="_self">elected</a>. Then the Hungarians were not free to choose. </p> <p> But it is worth noting that there were - both in <a href="http://www.soviethistory.org/index.php?action=L2&amp;SubjectID=1956hungary&amp;Year=1956">1956</a> and in 2006 - other options. The chances are that if a different route had been taken on both occasions, Hungary and indeed the other new European Union member-states in central Europe could have faced - and be facing now - a better future. </p> <p> A recently published book by <a href="http://apps.sais-jhu.edu/faculty_bios/faculty_bio1.php?ID=29&amp;SMSESSION=NO">Charles Gati</a>, <em><a href="http://www.sup.org/book.cgi?book_id=5606%20%20">(Failed Illusions: Moscow, Washington, Budapest, and the 1956 Hungarian Revolt</a></em>), argues cogently that if the Hungarians had been more circumspect in 1956 they would have gained more in the medium term instead of suffering the tragedy that befell them. </p> <p> There was a precedent. Poland, also in October 1956 (though a critical few days earlier than Hungary), had seen a mass protest movement return the imprisoned communist <a href="http://www.rev.hu/history_of_56/szerviz/kislex/biograf/gomulka_uk.htm">Wladysław Gomułka</a> to power and to free Cardinal Stefan Wyszyński, the head of the Catholic church. These two had been able to stand up to Nikita Khrushchev when the Soviet leader flew into Warsaw to browbeat the Polish communist leaders for going too far in a reformist direction, especially when they sacked the Soviet nominee Konstantin Rokossovski (head of the Polish army, and hero of the defence of <a href="http://www.profilebooks.co.uk/title.php?titleissue_id=351">Moscow in 1941-42</a>). As a result, the Polish government won a measure of freedom of manoeuvre while the internal <a href="http://www.polskieradio.pl/polonia/article.asp?tId=43736&amp;j=2">situation</a> was brought under control. </p> <p> In Budapest the leadership of the country under Imre Nagy, a long-serving communist loyalist (and as <a href="http://apps.sais-jhu.edu/faculty_bios/faculty_bio1.php?ID=29&amp;SMSESSION=NO">Gati</a> shows a Soviet secret-service veteran) failed to bring the situation under control. Even so the Soviet leadership decided at one point not to intervene, only to change their minds the next day - probably, as Gati suspects, under the influence of reports that their local communist and secret-police allies were being lynched in the streets of Budapest. </p> <p> Meanwhile the Hungarian section of <a href="http://www.hooverdigest.org/014/dorehill.html">Radio Free Europe</a> was inciting the demonstrators even against the now reformist Nagy, in contrast to the Poles in the same building who were counselling restraint and support for Gomułka to their listeners. In both cases the Americans did nothing (even though, as Charles Gati <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/06/20/AR2006062001442.html?referrer=delicious">writes</a> of Hungary, &quot;[there] were actions short of war that Washington might have taken&quot;). </p> <p> A peaceful solution to the Hungarian crisis with a limited liberalisation on <a href="http://www.polskieradio.pl/polonia/article.asp?tId=43524&amp;j=2">Polish lines</a> would have had important implications for the region. A year before, Austria had been neutralised with the Soviet army withdrawing. Moscow was normalising relations with Yugoslavia. China wanted political diversity in the Soviet camp. Liberal communist regimes in Warsaw and Budapest would have strengthened the hand of the reformers in Moscow, where demands for liberalisation had been fuelled by Khrushchev&#39;s anti-Stalin <a href="http://www.soviethistory.org/index.php?action=L2&amp;SubjectID=1956secret&amp;Year=1956">&quot;secret speech&quot;</a> in February 1956. Pressure would have grown for a settlement of the German question. </p> In the event Budapest was crushed, and while the liberal policies survived for a time in Poland and in Moscow, the fate of the reforms was sealed. When the Czechs and the Slovaks were to test the limits of freedom in <a href="http://www.soviethistory.org/index.php?action=L2&amp;SubjectID=1968czechoslovakia&amp;Year=1968">1968</a> they found that the only Soviet response was to send the tanks in. </div> <div class="pull_quote_article"> <div class="pull_quote"> <strong>Also in openDemocracy on Hungary in 1956 and 2006:</strong><strong> <p> Gabriel Partos, &quot;Hungary: change via continuity&quot; <br /> (<a href="/globalization-institutions_government/hungary_election_3515.jsp">8 May 2006</a>) </p> <p> George Schőpflin, &quot;Hungary: country without consequences&quot; (<a href="/democracy-protest/hungary_3926.jsp">22 September 2006</a>) </p> <p> Patrice de Beer, &quot;Budapest 1956-2006&quot; (<a href="/democracy-protest/hungary_anniversary_3958.jsp">2 October 2006</a>) </p> </strong> </div> <p> <strong>The Irish precedent</strong> </p> <p> Despite the differences between 1956 and 2006, much is also at stake in Hungary today. The prize is better governance and faster economic growth - if only the Hungarians were to show some restraint and establish a consensus on the policies needed to make progress in achieving them. A World Bank report in <a href="http://web.worldbank.org/WBSITE/EXTERNAL/COUNTRIES/ECAEXT/0,,contentMDK:20268176%7EpagePK:146736%7EpiPK:146830%7EtheSitePK:258599,00.html">September 2006</a> suggests rapid current growth in Hungary (but also in Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovakia) could be much faster if public spending were brought down and welfare systems reformed. </p> <p> There is a precedent. In Ireland in 1987 <a href="http://www.finegael.ie/index.cfm/level/page/aID/195/pageid/236/Content_Key/547/type/Page/PaGeName/After_the_Rainbow.html">Alan Dukes</a>, then leader of the opposition Fine Gael party, declared that he would support radical moves by the governing Fianna Fàil to get the macroeconomic situation into balance. A consensus was established, the right steps were taken and the Irish economy roared ahead to become the &quot;Celtic tiger&quot; (see &quot;Hungary needs to put aside the politics of conflict&quot;, <em>Financial Times</em>, <a href="http://www.ft.com/cms/s/9c144ec2-49d6-11db-84da-0000779e2340.html">22 September 2006</a>). </p> <p> The politics of confrontation are in the <a href="/globalization-institutions_government/europe_blackhole_3796.jsp" target="_self">ascendant</a> in central Europe. Political systems are struggling to produce viable majorities and reaching more often than not for fringe parties populated by rightwing nationalists to bolster frail majorities. In Hungary the opposition knows that it would have to adopt the same unpopular policies as Ferenc Gyurcsány if the prime minister fails to put them through. A switch to the politics of consensus around macroeconomic reforms would strengthen support for the measures and increase their chances of success. </p> Similar challenges face the Poles, the Czechs and the Slovaks. To meet them would be both a success story for European Union enlargement and a true overcoming of the painful legacy of the past. This after all was what the Hungarians were fighting for in 1956 - freedom with security and prosperity. <br /> <br /> </div> <table border="0" cellspacing="5" cellpadding="5" width="550" bgcolor="#e3f2f9"> <tbody> <tr> <td> <p> <strong>Charles Gati <a href="http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=6375222" target="_blank">writes</a>:</strong> </p> <p> Two weeks after Moscow crushed the revolution, I left Hungary, going first to Austria and then in a few weeks to the United States. I became one of some 182,000 refugees from Soviet-dominated Hungary. My parents, though I was their only child, did not discourage me from leaving. They stayed up all night before I left, watching me as I wrote a few notes of farewell to relatives and friends and put a few belongings together for my escape from uncertainty to uncertainty. Emerging from the kitchen, my mother came around to stuff her freshly baked sweets - the best in the world - into my small backpack. &quot;Look up Uncle Sanyi in New York,&quot; she said. At dawn, when it was time to say goodbye, my father tried to hold back his tears but he could not. &quot;Write often,&quot; he said, his voice quavering with emotion. We embraced. We kissed. As I left, they stood on the small balcony of our Barcsay Street apartment and waved. I walked backwards as long as I could see them, hoping they could also see me for another few seconds. (As I recall this scene some fifty years later, holding back my tears as my father once tried to do, I still see them waving on the balcony, and I always will.) </p> <p> I did not fully appreciate until much later - when I had my own children in America - how unselfish my parents were to let go of me. </p> <p> [This is an extract – (c) 2006 by Charles Gati - from <em>Failed Illusions: Moscow, Washington, Budapest, and the 1956 Hungarian Revolt</em> (<a href="http://www.sup.org/book.cgi?book_id=5606%20%20" target="_blank">Stanford University Press, 2006</a>)] </p> </td> </tr> </tbody> </table> democracy & power europe politics of protest Krzysztof Bobinski Original Copyright Thu, 26 Oct 2006 23:00:00 +0000 Krzysztof Bobinski 4038 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Poland's populist caravan https://www.opendemocracy.net/globalization-institutions_government/poland_populist_3737.jsp <p>It is an irony worth savouring. Poland, which marked its final break with its claustrophobic Soviet bloc past by entering the European Union in May 2004, now risks heading back to the isolation which marked the post-war communist period.</p> <p>The twin brothers Kaczynski &#150; Lech, Poland's president, and Jaros&#322;aw, who on 14 July 2006 is sworn in as <a href=http://www.dw-world.de/dw/article/0,2144,2084785,00.html target=_blank>prime minister</a> after the summary dismissal of Kazimierz Marcinkiewicz &#150; are ruling the country with the support of the populist right, and risk isolating their country in relation both to their European partners and to the United States.</p> <p>The brothers embarked on their conservative revolution when their <em>Prawo i Sprawiedliwosc</em> (Law & Justice / <a href=http://www.pis.org.pl/404.php target=_blank>PiS</a>) party won legislative and presidential <a href=http://www.elections.pap.pl/cgi-bin/news.pl?lang=en target=_blank>elections</a> in September-October 2005 on promises to crack down on corruption and aid those excluded from the benefits of the post-1989 switch to a free-market system. After the ejection of Marcinkiewicz, the party's original nominee as prime minister, it now looks as if the PiS revolution is to be accelerated. <div><div class="pull_quote_article"><p> <b>Krzysztof Bobinski works at the <a href=http://www.eureferenda.org/ target=_blank>Unia & Polska Foundation </a>, a pro-European NGO in Warsaw. He was the <em>Financial Times's </em> correspondent in Warsaw. </b></p> <p>Also by Krzysztof Bobinski in openDemocracy:</p> <p>"<a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=339">A stork's eye view from Poland</a>"<br /> (May 2001)</p> <p>"<a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=1878">Poland's nervous 'return' to Europe</a>" <br />(April 2004)</p> <p>"<a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=2532">Poland's letter to France: please say <em>oui</em>!</a>" (May 2005)</p> <p>"<a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=2704">Democracy in the European Union, more or less</a>" (July 2005)</p> <p>"<a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=3085">The European Union's Turkish dilemma</a>" (December 2005) </p> <p>"<a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=3381">Belarus&#146;s message to Europe</a>" (March 2006)</p></div><p><b>Ambition and constraint</b> </p> <p>Kazimierz Marcinkiewicz, a rightwing provincial politician, had been brought in to head the government when the brothers decided initially that voters would not accept twins occupying the top two posts in the country.</p> <p>For a time, <a href=http://www.kprm.gov.pl/english/21.htm target=_blank>Jaros&#322;aw Kaczynski</a> took a back seat and watched as Marcinkiewicz pursued increasingly pragmatic policies which recognised that inaugurating a &#147;fourth republic&#148; &#150; to emphasise even further the break with the <a href=http://www.kprm.gov.pl/english/797.htm target=_blank>post-communist</a> era, and Kaczynski code for a conservative moral revolution &#150; risked destabilising the country and undermining its moderately successful economic record (including low inflation, and annual GDP growth of almost 5%). </p> <p>Marcinkiewicz, who struck a chord with the population and far outstripped the twins in <a href=http://www.polskieradio.pl/polonia/article.asp?tId=39030&j=2 target=_blank>opinion-poll</a> popularity, was also dismayed at the coalition partners which PiS foisted on him as the price of a stable majority in parliament. These were the rightwing nationalist <em>Liga Polskich Rodzin</em> (League of Polish Families / LPR) headed by Roman Giertych and the populist <em>Samoobrona</em> (Self-defence) led by Andrzej Lepper, a potato farmer who also speaks for those who have not done well out of the post-1989 changes. </p> <p>And as Marcinkiewicz was being ditched, his deputies Roman Giertych and Andrzej Lepper were in Cz&#281;stochowa, Poland's national shrine at ceremonies celebrating <a href=http://www.radiomaryja.pl/ target=_blank>Radio Maryja</a>, a rightwing fundamentalist Catholic radio station with a million loyal listeners who vote the way Father Tadeusz Rydzyk, the Maryja director, tells them to. Rydzyk and Radio Marya played and continue to play a key role in building <a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=3450">support</a> for the PiS government and its allies.</p> <p>It wasn't meant to be like this. PiS and its present great opposition rival the <em>Platforma Obywatelska</em> (<a href=http://www.platforma.org/ target=_blank>Civic Platform / PO</a>) went into last autumn's elections promising to establish a grand coalition government. But PiS's unexpected if narrow victory in the parliamentary election and, Lech Kaczy&#324;ski's presidential win over the PO's <a href=http://www.donaldtusk.org/ target=_blank>Donald Tusk</a> two weeks later, put the two parties on a confrontational course which made a post&#150;election alliance impossible.</p> <p><a href=http://www.president.pl/x.node?id=479 target=_blank>Lech Kaczy&#324;ski</a> promised that once elected he would look after the poor and dispossessed who since the fall of communism had been cheated by the "elites". This line made a rapprochement with the populists and the rightwing nationalists possible. But Kaczynski's assertion that a PO victory would open the way to dangerous "liberal" experiments closed the door to a deal with the pro&#150;market Civic Platform. The break left the PO unable to mount a serious challenge to their erstwhile partners, rather like the way the Democrats in the US are unable to make a credible case against George W Bush's Iraq policy.</p> <p>The Kaczy&#324;ski twins, having acquired <a href=http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/5179886.stm target=_blank>full power</a>, now stand at a crossroads. Their record to this point has shown them to be suspicious of the outside world and keen to see conspiracies at home aimed at derailing their attempt to uproot corruption. They want to build a lasting ruling majority based on an appeal to the poor and the anxious, who were tempted to support the twins for the same reasons they had earlier backed the former communists: a hope that the twins could <a href=http://www.polskieradio.pl/polonia/article.asp?tId=39141&j=2 target=_blank>guarantee</a> welfare security.</p> <p>The brothers' instinct has also been to garner as much power as possible by bringing independent institutions under the control of their party, placing their supporters in key positions in the publicly-owned TV and radio stations, and accusing those who seek to defend the very idea of the division of powers as being supporters of post&#150;1989 governments which were tainted by corruption. </p> <p>The brothers do not command majority support in the country. A mere quarter of Poles thought that the takeover of the country by the twins was a good thing; almost two&#150;thirds didn't like the idea. This reflects the <a href=http://www.angus-reid.com/polls/index.cfm/fuseaction/viewItem/itemID/12504 target=_blank>balance of feeling</a> in the country about its new rulers. </p></div><div><div class="pull_quote_article"><p><b>openDemocracy writers dissect Poland's post-communist politics:</b></p> <p>Marek Matraszek, "<a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=2251">Ukraine, Poland, and a free world</a>" <br />(2 December 2004)</p> <p>Neal Ascherson, "<a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=2806">The victory and defeat of Solidarno&#347;&#263;</a>"<br />(6 September 2005)</p> <p>Adam Szostkiewicz, "<a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=2858">The Polish lifeboat</a>"<br /> (22 September 2005) </p> <p>Karolina Gniewowska, "<a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=2863">The Polish minefield</a>" (23 September 2005)</p> <p Neal Ascherson, "<a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=2883">Poland's interregnum" (30 September 2005)</p> <p>Marek Kohn, "<a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=2957">Poland's beacon for Europe</a>" <br />(25 October 2005)</p> </div><p><b>Poland in the world</b></p> <p>If Lech and Jaros&#322;aw Kaczy&#324;ski chose to rule Poland from the nationalist and populist right, seeking to bolster their credibility with Radio Maryja by contesting the tolerant gains Europeans have made in questions of morality, they will become increasingly isolated at home and abroad. And <a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=1300">young Poles</a> will continue to go abroad <em>en masse</em> to less claustrophobic political climates.</p> <p>In the four days between his nomination and his formal appointment as premier, Jaros&#322;aw Kaczy&#324;ski gave two signals that his ability to grasp the realities of government at speed is no less than that of his predecessor Marcinkiewicz. First, Kaczy&#324;ski has appointed a mainstream economist, <a href=http://uk.news.yahoo.com/09072006/325/polish-party-picks-young-economist-finance-chief.html target=_blank>Stanis&#322;aw Kluza</a>, as finance minister &#150; a sign that he will not yield easily to inflationary policies which, given the demands of his electorate, could blow the budget wide open.</p> <p>Second, Jaros&#322;aw was quick to take a telephone call from Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, in a time of worry that relations between Poland and Germany were spinning out of control after a satirical article in the German newspaper <em><a href=http://www.dw-world.de/dw/article/0,2144,2079050,00.html target=_blank>Tageszeitung</a></em>. The article, mockingly critical of the twins, led the Polish president to call off a trilateral summit with Jacques Chirac and Merkel, and left the Polish authorities demanding that the German government "do something" about its publication. </p> <p>The fact that both sides later said the conversation marked a "new beginning" in relations between the two countries may indicate that in foreign relations, Kaczynski may yet allow pragmatism to rule. </p> <p>But a twofold dilemma remains: that the brothers' psychological make&#150;up militates against more open policies, and that their promises to their voters on economic issues and to their key allies like Radio Maryja on "moral" ones make a shift to the centre in domestic and foreign policy very difficult.</p> <p>Poland's partners in the European Union are for the moment aghast at developments in the country. The brothers' efforts to change the moral climate in Europe on issues like tolerance of homosexuality have provoked outrage among liberals and the left throughout the continent. And the United States, which the brothers (like many Poles) look to as the ultimate guarantee of Poland's security is also worried, because Washington doesn't want the country to have bad relations with Germany now that Berlin is once again its <a href=http://www.dw-world.de/dw/article/0,2144,2095332,00.html target=_blank>favoured partner</a>. </p> <p>Nor does the US want to be identified with a government which has Roman Giertych, the leader of the LPR &#150; a party with anti&#150;Semitism etched in its DNA &#150; as education minister. Moreover, Israel has openly stated that it will boycott the education ministry as long as <a href=http://www.polskieradio.pl/polonia/article.asp?tId=39037&j=2 target=_blank>Giertych</a> is at its head. </p> <p>The Kaczy&#324;ski twins' primary motive has been to seize the levers of power rather than to respect the niceties of democratic institutions. Their political momentum until now has been fuelled by their righteous sense of zeal in rooting out corruption and the "evil networks" they see as parasites on the country. In this sense they are extremists - and it is rare for a democracy to be ruled from either extreme without endangering its democratic institutions. An opening to the political centre is badly needed in Poland. </p> </div></p> institutions & government Globalisation europe Krzysztof Bobinski Creative Commons normal Thu, 13 Jul 2006 23:00:00 +0000 Krzysztof Bobinski 3737 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Belarus's message to Europe https://www.opendemocracy.net/globalization-institutions_government/belarus_message_3381.jsp <p> Belarus appears to be the one place in Europe where voters have <a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=3371">chosen</a> populism and protectionism without even trying democracy or liberalism first. Polish television journalists reporting on the aftermath of the presidential election there never tire of telling their viewers at home that the thousands of demonstrators in Minsk&#39;s Oktabrskaya Square have &quot;surmounted their fear of the riot police&quot; and come out to protest. But the numbers are too small and already – following three nightly <a href="http://www.rferl.org/featuresarticle/2006/3/DD98CACB-2B6A-43ED-84C3-F03315C21A1A.html" target="_blank">assemblies</a> since the election of 19 March 2006 – dwindling. The fact remains that for <a href="http://www.president.gov.by/eng/" target="_blank">Alexander Lukashenko</a> to be toppled his people will first have to overcome their fear not of him but of the free market and democracy. </p> <p> Poland&#39;s rightwing government elected in <a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=2957">October 2005</a> isn&#39;t doing much to help. In truth young Poles, seeking to relive their parents&#39; adventure with <a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=2806">Solidarity</a>, are wholeheartedly behind Alexander Milinkevich, the main opposition candidate. The government is officially projecting the message of liberation. But at home the twin brothers Kaczynski (Lech the president, and Jaroslaw the head of the ruling party, <em>Prawo i Sprawiedliwosc</em> [Law &amp; Justice]), are saying that the sixteen years since the fall of communism in Poland have been an unmitigated failure – a time dominated by crooks and crypto-communists as well as liberals and their cronies. If Poland is to be at peace with itself, they imply, it needs to be freed of ill-defined but definitely malevolent and cosmopolitan forces. This, not the juvenile voices of solidarity, is the message seeping through to <a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=3357">Belarus</a>. </p> <div class="pull_quote_article"> <div class="pull_quote"> <p> <strong>Krzysztof Bobinski works at the <a href="http://www.eureferenda.org/" target="_blank">Unia &amp; Polska Foundation</a>, a pro-European NGO in Warsaw. He was the <em>Financial Times&#39;s</em> correspondent in Warsaw. </strong> </p> <p> <strong>Also by Krzysztof Bobinski in openDemocracy:</strong> </p> <p> <strong>&quot;<a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=339">A stork&#39;s eye view from Poland</a>&quot;<br /> (May 2001)</strong> </p> <p> <strong>&quot;<a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=1878">Poland&#39;s nervous &#39;return&#39; to Europe</a>&quot; <br /> (April 2004)</strong> </p> <p> <strong>&quot;<a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=2532">Poland&#39;s letter to France: please say <em>oui</em>!</a>&quot; (May 2005)</strong> </p> <p> <strong>&quot;<a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=2704">Democracy in the European Union, more or less</a>&quot; (July 2005)</strong> </p> <p> <strong>&quot;<a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=3085">The European Union&#39;s Turkish dilemma</a>&quot; (December 2005) </strong> </p> <p> &nbsp; </p> <p> <strong>If you find this material enjoyable or provoking please consider commenting in our <a href="/forums/forum.jspa?forumID=128">forums</a> – and supporting <strong>openDemocracy<strong> by sending us a <a href="/registration2/donate.jsp">donation</a> so that we can continue our work for democratic dialogue</strong></strong></strong> </p> </div> <p> Elsewhere in the region a <a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=3376">populist wave</a> is on the rise and the air is thick with cocks coming home to roost – be it of the failure since 1989 to combat corruption, strengthen state structures or reform welfare states so that those who fail in the brave new free-market world don&#39;t have to fear the abyss. </p> <p> Who could blame the Belarusian in front of his television set watching all this (and keeping a wary eye on the far-from-perfect progress of reform in Ukraine or Georgia) for leaning over to his wife and whispering: &quot;I think we should sit this one out&quot;? </p> <p> <strong>I</strong>n bitterly cold Minsk some young people hold the European Union&#39;s blue-and-gold starred flag aloft – to them, the opposite of everything their ruler stands for – in their own gesture of solidarity. But isn&#39;t the message that the EU, or at least some of its member-states, is sending out today also one of protectionism and populism? The failure of the <a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=3378">services directive</a> exposed all the problems of bringing high- and low-cost national economies together into one single market. Sluggish economies such as Germany&#39;s have kept up the barriers to workers from the new member-states. Meanwhile, the process of ratification of the <a href="/democracy-europe_constitution/debate.jsp%22">European constitution</a> is stuck in the sidelines following the French and Dutch referenda of 2005. </p> <p> At the same time, confident and high-growth economies like <a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=3366">Ireland&#39;s</a> are welcoming immigrant labour. This suggests that the solution to many of Europe&#39;s current problems must start with a refuelling of its economic dynamism: in particular, by spurring growth in the larger countries – France, Italy and Germany. </p> <p> But will the current trend towards protectionism help? France, Spain and Italy are seeking to foster and safeguard &quot;national champions&quot; counter to the logic of the single market. In Germany too, the same impulses are at work. In France, <a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=3373">hundreds of thousands</a> of young people have come out to demonstrate against labour-market reform, and in a more widely <a href="http://english.chosun.com/w21data/html/news/200603/200603220006.html" target="_blank">defensive</a> spirit. </p> <p> Indeed the present revolt – like the rebellion of the immigrant <em><a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=3051">banlieues</a></em> in October-November – was heralded on 29 May 2005 when the French <a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=2566">rejected</a> the EU constitution in a gesture of disgust with their elites. The French are flirting with populism as they show an apparent inability to cope emotionally with the challenges of capitalism. The free-market project is suffering similar problems in several new member-states, most notably <a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=2963">Poland</a>. </p> <p> Belarus appears to be most solid in its rejection of the free market and democracy. If that is to change then the major economies in the European Union must reform to regain their sense of drive. That renewed self-confidence can then be projected to the wobbly post-Soviet countries now part of a disparate EU, and supporters of the European project in Poland (and countries further <a href="/democracy-ukraine/issue.jsp">east</a>) will in turn gain arguments against the economic nationalists.<strong> </strong> </p> <p> When all that happens, the beleaguered democrats in Belarus will begin to see the population lining up behind them. Until then, the mass of the population will stay at home watching Lukashenko on TV.<strong> </strong> </p> </div> Globalisation europe institutions & government Krzysztof Bobinski Creative Commons normal Wed, 22 Mar 2006 00:00:00 +0000 Krzysztof Bobinski 3381 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Europe’s time of reflection https://www.opendemocracy.net/krzysztof-bobinski/europe%E2%80%99s-time-of-reflection <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> In the last days of 2005, leading thinkers and scholars from around the world share their fears, hopes and expectations of 2006. As <a href=" http://www.opendemocracy.net/author/isabel-hilton">Isabel Hilton</a> asks: What does 2006 have in store? (<a href=" http://www.opendemocracy.net/globalization-vision_reflections/futurology_3153.jsp#4">Part one</a>) </div> </div> </div> <p>Don’t expect too much. Exhausted by the 2007-13 budget deal and wary of the challenge from the youthful if deeply eurosceptic David Cameron, the Blair/Brown duo will take the United Kingdom even further to the margins of the European Union. France, flushed with its success in repairing&nbsp;<a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/articles/View.jsp?id=2532">relations</a>&nbsp;with Poland, will mark time while it waits for its next presidential election in 2007 and ponders how to retain as much of the Common Agricultural Policy as possible in future.</p><p>Angela Merkel showed at the Brussels summit that Germany intends to play a constructive role in brokering EU compromises. This does not mark a return to the munificence of Helmut Kohl, but sets the stage for a working relationship of the Weimar three – Germany, France and Poland. With the United Kingdom on the edge of the picture, this could also mean that prospects for liberalisation will dim as all three in Weimar show little enthusiasm for labour market reforms.</p><p>What role for the other “bigs”?</p><p>Italy, obsessed with internal politics, shows little enthusiasm for playing a European role while Spain, grateful that it was allowed to retain a net inflow of EU funds in the 2007-13 budget period, will go quiet for a time at least.</p><p>So a time for reflection after the fiasco in 2005 of the&nbsp;<a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/democracy-europe_constitution/debate.jsp">constitutional treaty</a>. This, in effect, means that the politicians will forget about Europe and concentrate on their domestic concerns, while think-tankers will, as ever, mull over the question of “whither Europe”. The issue, as ever, will be how to combine “deepening” – keeping an expanding if increasingly parsimonious EU on the road – with “widening”, which means working out ways of integrating a growing number of candidates who still want to join despite the angst on the EU which appears to be affecting the founding states.</p><p>The Austrian presidency, maybe subconsciously fixated on recreating the Austro-Hungarian empire within the framework of the EU, will press for the inclusion of Croatia, which means that Bulgaria and Romania will make progress to member status, while at the same time fending off the&nbsp;<a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/articles/View.jsp?id=3085">Turks</a>. That begs the question of who will speak up for the&nbsp;<a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/articles/View.jsp?id=2585">Balkans</a>. In the second half of the year Finland gets to steer the ship which signifies that the EU will be encouraged to look north and east and, to the delight of the eurosceptic Polish administration, that means work on a coherent EU policy towards Russia and a common EU energy policy – the sole eurofederist project currently on the drawing boards in the European Commission.</p> globalisation Krzysztof Bobinski Thu, 22 Dec 2005 13:43:15 +0000 Krzysztof Bobinski 62189 at https://www.opendemocracy.net The European Union's Turkish dilemma https://www.opendemocracy.net/democracy-europe_constitution/turkish_dilemma_3085.jsp <p>Tony Blair&#146;s bid to save the United Kingdom&#146;s budget rebate by cutting funds for the ten new member-states that joined the European Union in <a href=http://economist.com/research/backgrounders/displaybackgrounder.cfm?bg=871445 target=_blank>May 2004</a> has shocked central European capitals. London, they have realised, is not willing to shoulder its share of the cost of enlargement. As the <a href=http://www.eu2005.gov.uk/servlet/Front?pagename=OpenMarket/Xcelerate/ShowPage&c=Page&cid=1107293391098&a=KArticle&aid=1115135402893 target=_blank>15-16 December</a> summit that will crown Britain&#146;s disappointing six-month presidency of the union approaches, Blair is not alone. Other net contributors like Sweden and Germany would like the 2007-2013 budget to be limited to 1% of GDP, or to be reduced to less than it was when the EU had fifteen members rather than twenty-five. <div><div class="pull_quote_article"><p><b>Also by Krzysztof Bobinski in openDemocracy:</b></p> <p>&#147;A stork&#146;s eye view from Poland&#148; (<a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=339">May 2001</a>)</p> <p>&#147;Poland&#146;s nervous &#145;return&#146; to Europe&#148; (<a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=1878">April 2004</a>)</p> <p>&#147;Poland&#146;s letter to France: please say <em>oui</em>! (<a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=2532">May 2005</a>)</p> <p>&#147;Democracy in the European Union, more or less&#148; (<a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=2704">July 2005</a>)</p> <p>If you find this material valuable, please send openDemocracy a <a href=http://www.opendemocracy.net/registration2/donate.jsp target=_blank>donation</a> so that we can keep dialogue about democracy alive and make it accessible to all</p> </div><p>The leaders of the fifteen pre-enlargement EU states got no less of a shock when voters in France and Holland voted down the constitutional treaty in <a href=http://www.cfr.org/publication.html?id=8148 target=_blank>May-June 2005</a>, partly in reaction to the perceived threat to their lifestyles through the accession of ten poorer, more needy countries mainly to the east.</p> <p>Why the surprise? After all, enlargement was well prepared from the point of view of the <em><a href=http://www.euabc.com/index.phtml?word_id=12 target=_blank>acquis communautaire</a></em>, the body of law that aspiring member-states have to subscribe to before joining. The former Soviet-bloc entrants were keen to join. Old member-state leaders said they wanted the continent reunited after the cold war. The dream of the founding fathers of a Europe whole and at peace was achieved. But no one told the good news to the voters in the &#147;EU fifteen&#148;. </p> <p>It is clear that before accession the two sides &#150; the &#147;fifteen&#148; and the &#147;ten&#148; - never really faced up to the political and financial implications of reunification. There was little discussion between old and new members on establishing a consensus on what they could expect of each other so that post-entry shocks could be avoided. Thus the entrants continued to hope that EU funds would flow from richer to not-so-rich states as they had after previous enlargements. Meanwhile, the old member-states made a mental note of the fact that the days of generosity on the Helmut Kohl scale were <a href=http://www.dw-world.de/dw/article/0,2144,1128065,00.html target=_blank>over</a>.</p> <p><b>An explosive Rubik cube</b></p> <p>Now, actions are dispelling the illusions as the European Union bickers over the budget in serious pre-summit squabbles. At the same time, the EU is limbering up for a new round of enlargement negotiations with Turkey. But there seems to be no attempt to achieve a genuine meeting of minds on the costs and benefits of bringing this large, not very rich, Islamic society with a patchy democratic record into the union. In contrast to the accession of the post-Soviet states, the doubts about the whole process are being made palpably clear. Some member-states, notably Austria but including Germany under the new chancellorship of <a href=http://www.dw-world.de/dw/article/0,2144,1786512,00.html target=_blank>Angela Merkel</a>, are already implying that negotiations could stop short of full membership for Turkey.</p> <p>On the Turkish side too analysts are drawing attention to the challenges facing EU and Turkish policy makers. At a recent seminar in Warsaw, <a href=http://books.telegraph.co.uk/BerteShopWeb/viewProduct.do?ISBN=0415326567 target=_blank>Mehmet Ugur</a>, an academic from London&#146;s Greenwich University, asked if the Turkish government is doing enough to build a pro-European consensus that would be necessary to surmount them. The ownership of the Europeanisation project in Turkey, he suggested, has changed hands: the secular-Kemalist elite has begun to lose interest in this project, while those who once contested the basic principles of the Turkish state have moved to support it. </p></div><div><div class="pull_quote_article"><p><b>Also on the <a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/democracy-turkey/issue.jsp">future of Turkey</a> in openDemocracy:</b></p> <p>Reinhard Hesse, &#147;Turkish honey under a German moon&#148; (<a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=1784">March 2004</a>)</p> <p>Murat Belge, &#147;Turkey: normal at last?&#148; (<a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=735">November 2002</a>)</p> <p>Murat Belge, &#147;Turkey and Europe: why friendship is welcome&#148; (<a href=http://www.opendemocracy.net/archive/barrier2.jsp?redirect=/democracy-turkey/article_2271 target=_blank>December 2004</a>)</p> <p>Fred Halliday, &#147;Turkey and the hypocrisies of Europe&#148; (<a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=2271">December 2004</a>)</p></div></div></p> <p>Fadi Hakura, &#147;Europe and Turkey: the end of the beginning&#148; (<a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=2896">October 2005</a>)</p> <p>Gunes Murat Tezcur, &#147;The Armenian shadow over Turkey&#146;s democratisation&#148; (<a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=2920">October 2005</a>) </p> <p>Moreover, Turkish patience will be severely tested in the coming period by the needs of resolving the <a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=1861">Cyprus issue</a>, addressing <a href=http://www.worldpress.org/Europe/2007.cfm target=_blank>Armenian claims</a> and dealing with the Kurdish question. As if this agenda were not already sticky, Turkey&#146;s efforts would be accompanied by the constant drumbeat of European Commission demands for adaptation to the <em>acquis</em>.</p> <p>In previous enlargements the EU used the stick-and-carrot approach. Candidate countries grinned and bore the demands for change because they knew that their countries would benefit after accession. Turkey sees that there will be few carrots and lots of stick. With Turkey, in contrast to what is happening now between the old and new member-states, the shocks are coming <a href=http://www.euractiv.com/Article?tcmuri=tcm:29-132312-16&type=Analysis target=_blank>up front</a>.</p> <p>Nevertheless it would do the cause of Turkish accession a lot of good to go beyond the language of fear and reach out to an underlying consensus between the two sides on what they are to expect of each other. That consensus would include a commitment by the EU to show sensitivity to the fact that internal Turkish politics resemble an explosive Rubik cube. A false move in attempting to align the various domestic stakeholders in the process could see the cube blow up in Turkish leaders&#146; faces. EU pressure on Turkey is part of this game and Brussels must make sure that it does not provoke a blast.</p> <p>The Turks, for their part, must think in terms of being co-responsible for internal EU developments. As <a href=http://www.cer.org.uk/articles/45_barysch.html target=_blank>Katinka Barysch</a> at the Centre for European Reform suggests, Turkey must present itself as a &#147;normal&#148; European country. If Turkey is to join the EU, the traditional take-it-or-leave-it accession method must be modified as both sides share a willingness to work together on easing the other&#146;s political problems. This dialogue would be greatly strengthened by a major increase of mutual study-trips and <a href=http://www.ceps.be/Article.php?article_id=324 target=_blank>conferences</a> by people from all walks of life.</p> <p>Turkish membership of the European Union is too important to the peaceful and democratic development of the region and to the credibility of the EU itself to be allowed to fail. But if it is to succeed, work on building an underlying consensus between the two sides needs to start now &#150; or the next shock will be the biggest. </p> europe: after the constitution democracy & power europe Krzysztof Bobinski Creative Commons normal Fri, 02 Dec 2005 00:00:00 +0000 Krzysztof Bobinski 3085 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Democracy in the European Union, more or less https://www.opendemocracy.net/democracy-europe_constitution/yes_2704.jsp <p>Like the survivors of a defeated military campaign, <a href=http://www.opendemocracy.net/democracy-europe_constitution/europeanreferendum_2532.jsp target=_blank>footsoldiers</a> of the &#147;yes&#148; side in the French and Dutch referenda on the European Union&#146;s draft constitutional treaty are slowly beginning to regroup and to ask why things went so badly wrong. A number of them assembled in Poland&#146;s capital city on 5 July 2005 to assess the landscape after battle. </p><p>The seminar was sparked by an <b>openDemocracy</b> article by <a href=http://www.cer.org.uk/about/wanlin.html target=_blank>Aurore Wanlin</a>, a French researcher at London&#146;s Centre for European Reform, which concluded: &#147;a lack of democratic dialogue at the European level is a damaging hole at the heart of the European project&#148;. </p> <p><a href=http://www.houseofrepresentatives.nl/members_of_parliament/griffie_lfc/kamerdet7774.html#personalia target=_blank>Lousewies van der Laan</a>, a Dutch MP and a leader of the &#147;yes&#148; campaign in her country, described her sobering referendum experience: &#147;we struggled and failed to come up with a convincing one-liner explaining to the man in the street what the European Union can do for him&#148;. <div><div class="pull_quote_article"><p><b><a href=http://www.opendemocracy.net/democracy-europefuture/article_1878.jsp target=_blank>Krzysztof Bobinski</a> is a former <em>Financial Times</em> correspondent in Warsaw who works for the <a href=http://www.unia-polska.pl/index.php?id=13 target=_blank><em>Unia & Polska</em></a> Foundation, a pro-European NGO in Poland. He reports in this article on a seminar in Warsaw on 5 July 2005, organised by the Unia & Polska Foundation in cooperation with <b>openDemocracy</b> and the Polish weekly magazine <em> <a href=http://www.ozon.pl/ target=_blank>Ozon</a></em>, on the theme: &#147;Does the European Union need more democracy &#150; and if so how much?&#148; </b></p> <p>The seminar was held under the auspices of the British presidency of the European Union (July &#150; December 2005) and had the financial support of the Polish foreign ministry; the British, Dutch and French embassies in Warsaw; and the <a href=http://www.britishcouncil.org/poland target=_blank>British Council</a>.</p> <p>Isabel Hilton, editor of <b>openDemocracy</b>, chaired the seminar. The other speakers were:</p> <p>Lena Kolarska-Bobi&#324;ska ( <a href=http://epc.objectis.net/Centers/Files/15-poland_new.pdf target=_blank>Institute of Public Affairs, Warsaw</a>)</p> <p> <a href=http://www.lousewiesvanderlaan.nl/ target=_blank>Lousewies van der Laan</a> (Member of the Dutch parliament for the D66 party) </p> <p> <a href=http://www.iris-france.org/pagefr.php3?fichier=fr/cv/cv2&nom=ragaru target=_blank>Nadège Ragaru </a><em>Institut de Relations Internationales et Stratégiques</em> (Iris,Paris) </p> <p> <a href=http://www.cer.org.uk/about/wanlin.html target=_blank>Aurore Wanlin</a> (Centre for European Reform, London) </p> <p><a href=http://www.diis.dk/sw11181.asp target=_blank>Anne Mette Vestergaard</a> (Danish Institute for International Studies, Copenhagen)</p> </div><p>The feeling that the European Union had become a costly irrelevance to most <a href=http://www.opendemocracy.net/democracy-europe_constitution/holland_2567.jsp target=_blank>Dutch people</a> buried the &#147;yes&#148; campaign by a margin of 62%-38%. Lousewies van der Laan says:</p> <blockquote> &#147;In the Netherlands there was no compelling reason to be for and it became respectable to be against &#150; no one believes there will be a war in Europe or that their prosperity will suffer if the EU disappears&#148;. </blockquote> <p>Lousewies van der Laan was scornful in several directions:</p> <ul><li>of past and present EU leaders who had constructed the EU&#146;s institutions and enlarged the union after 1989 without taking people with them (&#147;voters kept telling us: &#145;we were never consulted about this&#146;&#148;)</li> <li>of France and Germany for breaking the stability pact with impunity and thus showing that the big member-states could play by their own rules</li> <li>of Valery Giscard d&#146;Estaing for calling the treaty a &#147;constitution&#148;, thereby fuelling fears that the EU was turning into a &#147;superstate&#148; </li> <li>of those in the &#147;yes&#148; camp who warned of terrible results if people voted &#147;no&#148; </li> <li>of the media, which failed to explain the issues in depth</li> <li>of the business community, NGOs and trade unions, which kept their heads below the parapet</li></ul> <p>As a result, said van der Laan, &#147;the &#145;yes&#146; campaign was left to the politicians, who are unpopular and whom people decided to teach a lesson.&#148; The &#145;no&#146; campaign, meanwhile, was very successful: &#147;it united xenophobia (the extreme right) and left-wing populism (the socialists) with respectable and credible sceptics (&#145;the Protestants&#146;).&#148; </p> <p>But, van der Laan concluded, &#147;at least the campaign gave us a debate on Europe&#148;. The lesson for this former member of the European parliament was that any further steps on integration must include, consult and persuade the people with them &#150; and that means more referenda.</p> <p> <b> Democracy&#146;s test </b> </p> <p>Aurore Wanlin developed the themes of her <b>openDemocracy</b> <a href=http://www.opendemocracy.net/democracy-europe_constitution/EU_NO_2566.jsp target=_blank>article</a> by arguing that the European Union&#146;s problem was the disconnect between its institutions and European citizens, who don&#146;t feel the EU answers their needs. She echoed Lousewies van der Laan&#146;s comment that national politicians had too often used the EU&#146;s Brussels institutions as <a href=http://www.opendemocracy.net/democracy-europe_constitution/vote_2556.jsp target=_blank>scapegoats</a> for their domestic problems. This, along with the surprising lack of basic information about the EU available in the older member-states, has had the cumulative effect of weakening the EU.</p> <p>Nonetheless, Wanlin made the rare point that the European Union is one of the continent&#146;s <em>more</em> democratic institutions. The division of powers in the EU is complex with inputs from the European Commission, the twenty-five member-states, the European parliament and the European court of justice; there are multiple layers of accountability, including directly-elected MEPs and indirectly-accountable national governments. </p> <p>After making the further rare point that the EU is made democratic by its inability to keep a secret, Aurore Wanlin argued that the draft constitutional treaty had three further democratic features:</p> <ul> <li> it was designed to address the EU&#146;s democratic deficit </li> <li> it was put together in the most democratic fashion in the EU&#146;s history to date (the post-Laeken convention process, multiple open meetings and dialogues)</li> <li> it was to be tested in the most democratic way &#150; referenda in ten member-states (and parliamentary votes in the rest). </li> </ul> <p> <b> French fears, Danish dreams </b> </p> <p><a href=http://www.iris-france.org/pagefr.php3?fichier=fr/cv/cv2&nom=ragaru target=_blank>Nadège Ragaru</a> saw the French referendum (which produced a 56%-44% vote against the treaty) as the moment when &#147;the French people discovered the European Union and decided that they didn&#146;t like what they saw&#148;. </p> <p>The 29 May vote wasn&#146;t &#147;against (then prime minister) <a href=http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jean-Pierre_Raffarin target=_blank>Jean-Pierre Raffarin</a>, nor a lack of transparency or democracy in the EU, not even against economic reforms. It was about the realisation that France was no longer the centre of the world and the French elite was no longer running the country&#148;. </p> <p>The French, Ragaru said, are wrestling with identity problems, in <a href=http://www.opendemocracy.net/democracy-europe_constitution/article_2492.jsp target=_blank>fear</a> of foreigners and suffering insecurity about losing their jobs. They voted as they did because they felt that democracy in Europe could do little to protect them in the face of globalisation. </p> <p><a href=http://www.diis.dk/sw11181.asp target=_blank>Anne Mette Vestergaard</a> said that Denmark would have voted &#147;yes&#148; if its referendum had been held before the French and Dutch &#150; but after it, a &#147;no&#148; vote would have been a certainty. </p> <p>From the moment Denmark joined the EU in 1973, its people were told about the economic consequences but left in the dark about the political ones, Vestergaard continued; now, after several referenda on European issues, two of which produced &#147;no&#148; votes, the <a href=http://www.jean-jaures.org/NL/185/0205.pdf target=_blank>Danes</a> have become (like Spaniards) &#147;euroenthusiastic&#148;. The reason, said Vestergaard, is that the Danes&#146; various referenda have forced us to talk about European issues and about the EU &#150; including enlargement, which is popular in Denmark. </p> <p> <b> Jean Monnet&#146;s ghost </b></p> <p>Lena Kolarska-Bobi&#324;ska&#146;s impression was that the European Union has a deeper problem: European elites are losing interest in the European project because of enlargement. </p> <blockquote>&#147;Elites in western Europe no longer send out signals saying the EU is a good thing. At the same time, in a country like Poland half of the voters don&#146;t vote anyway and a third say they don&#146;t care what kind of system of government they have&#148;. </blockquote> <p>Kolarska-Bobi&#324;ska suggested that &#147;we may be approaching a similar situation in western Europe, with people finding they are unable to use democracy as a tool to further their interests?&#148;</p> <p>A lively discussion echoed Kolarska-Bobi&#324;ska&#146;s doubts about democracy. Nadège Ragaru said that in France too, elites were unhappy about <a href=http://www.opendemocracy.net/democracy-europe_constitution/russia_2647.jsp target=_blank>enlargement</a> while the mass media failed to provide information about the new member-states.</p> <p>Several speakers suggested that <a href= http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/07/02/AR2005070200061_pf.html target=_blank>Poles</a> were more interested in economic issues (jobs and wages) than in democracy. A democratic debate requires an informed electorate &#150; and that takes time. <a href=http://www.ifispan.waw.pl/~jniznik/ target=_blank>Jozef Ni&#380;nik</a>, an academic, believed that the debate on the constitutional treaty had been a &#147;huge misunderstanding&#148; &#150; the media had orchestrated the debate and the people had answered the wrong question. </p> <p>Ni&#380;nik then articulated a conundrum that European Union pioneer <a href=http://www.jean-monnet.ch/anglais/pMonnet/monnet5.htm target=_blank>Jean Monnet</a> might have sympathised with: &#147;if people had been consulted on the euro or enlargement we wouldn&#146;t have had either &#133; integration is better accomplished by elites but this is now impossible without popular support&#148;. Ni&#380;nik concluded: &#147;we have too much democracy&#148;.</p> <p> <b> Where next? </b> </p> <p>If the European project has a future, Aurore Wanlin, Lousewies van der Laan and Nadege Ragaru felt that the key to it lies in education, information, and media. They agreed that schools should teach the EU&#146;s history, politics, processes, ideas and institutions; local authorities should make more information available throughout the union in a decentralised way; and the media should report EU issues and feature its personalities and stories more widely. </p> <p>As the late Warsaw afternoon became shorter, the <a href=http://www.opendemocracy.net/democracy-europe_constitution/2577.jsp target=_blank>proposals</a> came faster. Aurore Wanlin demanded that EU institutions must consult and engage in public debate before undertaking major initiatives; Anne Mette Vestergaard said &#147;give people the first and not the last say&#148;; the formidable Lousewies van der Laan offered a detailed wish-list for the European Union&#146;s institutions, including referenda on all major EU steps, European Council meetings being held in public, and strengthening of the principle of <a href=http://www.euabc.com/index.phtml?word_id=879 target=_blank>subsidiarity</a>(devolved decision-making). </p> <p>Anne Mette Vestergaard suggested that referenda on all integration issues may not be the best way forward, but agreed that only open discussion could get &#147;people on board&#148;. In Denmark, government funds are now available to local communities who want to learn about and discuss EU issues. </p> <p>With this uplifting set of recommendations, Warsaw&#146;s battle-hardened survivors of Europe&#146;s travails set off in search of that special brand of European Union democracy that only Polish hospitality, conviviality, and vodka can supply.</p> </div></p> europe: after the constitution democracy & power europe Krzysztof Bobinski Creative Commons normal Tue, 26 Jul 2005 23:00:00 +0000 Krzysztof Bobinski 2704 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Poland's letter to France: please say 'oui!' https://www.opendemocracy.net/democracy-europe_constitution/europeanreferendum_2532.jsp <p>We&#146;ve all had the dream. The train we need to catch is standing at the station, just about to move off. But we keep getting held up and stay stuck on the platform as it moves away. That&#146;s the way I feel about the <a href=http://www.eureferenda.org target=_blank>referenda</a> on the European Union&#146;s constitutional treaty now taking place in various EU member-states. </p> <p>The &#147;yes&#148; side has to win in <a href=http://www.euractiv.com/Article?tcmuri=tcm:29-130616-16&type=Overview target=_blank>each country</a> holding a referendum (or parliamentary vote) for the treaty to go into force &#150; in France (<a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=2492">29 May</a>) and in Holland (1 June) and in Denmark and in the United Kingdom and here in Poland (25 September) and &#133; . But the &#147;no&#148; side, it seems, &#147;only has to be lucky once&#148;. </p> <p>Convinced that the defeat of the treaty will mark a major blow for the union which Poland joined only <a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=1878">twelve months ago</a> I watch helpless as the Left in France gets it into its head that the treaty is aimed at its social model and thus threatens to vote &#147;no&#148;. The Dutch, meanwhile, have a collective nervous breakdown and set out to punish their politicians by also voting &#147;no&#148;. While the Danes and the Irish and the Portuguese bravely say they will go ahead with their referenda the British &#150; even pro-Europeans among them &#150; seem all too relieved not to have to have a referendum in the event of a French &#147;no&#148;. &#147;The treaty ratification timetable will be dead,&#148; says <a href=http://observer.guardian.co.uk/comment/story/0,6903,1484228,00.html target=_blank>Denis MacShane</a>, until recently Tony Blair&#146;s gaffe-prone (and half-Polish) Europe minister. <div><div class="pull_quote_article"><p><b>Also by <a href=http://www.eureferenda.org/ target=_blank>Krzysztof Bobinski</a> in <b>openDemocracy: </b> </b></p> <p> &#147;Poland&#146;s nervous &#145;return&#146; to Europe&#148; (<a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=1878">April 2004</a>) </p> <p> &#147;A stork&#146;s eye view from Poland&#148; (<a href="/democracy-europefuture/article_339.jsp">May 2001</a>) </p> <p>If you find this material valuable, please send <b>openDemocracy</b> a <a href="/registration2/donate.jsp">donation</a> so that we can keep dialogue about democracy alive and make it accessible to all</p> </div><p>Is it all inevitable? Can anything be done to influence campaigns in other countries which have a direct bearing on our future? Maybe public appeals? The Poles have emerged as the whipping-boy in the <a href=http://www.economist.com/agenda/displayStory.cfm?story_id=3880583 target=_blank>French campaign</a>. Well, not all Poles &#150; just the odd-job men and the builders and other handymen willing to do the work for a fraction of the pay that a Frenchman would ask. </p> <p>Enlargement of the European Union to the east is apparently to blame for this threat to the French way of life. So Poland, after years of doing all the European Commission asked of it in the way of <em>acquis communautaire</em> <a href=http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/in_depth/europe/euro-glossary/default.stm target=_blank>preparations</a>, and sailing into what it saw as a safe harbour after a couple of centuries of <a href=http://www.columbia.edu/cu/cup/catalog/data/023105/0231053517.HTM target=_blank>historical hard luck</a> is now part of the problem? Do people in western Europe really think they were better off in a Europe divided by the &#147;iron curtain&#148; and living under a cold-war regime which threatened a nuclear holocaust if the leaders of the then superpowers thought fit to go to war? </p> <p>The least we in Poland could do was to write an open letter explaining to the French that this constitutional treaty was about more than plumbers it was about the future of a uniquely successful project which has enabled people to live peacefully together. It has also provided those of us, who through &#147;no&#148; fault of their own, have had to put up with two particularly nasty totalitarianisms in the last century with a secure perspective of modernisation and growth. The usual suspects agreed to sign: film director <a href=http://www.wajda.pl/en/kalendarium.html target=_blank>Andrzej Wajda</a>, writer <a href=http://www.pen.org/page.php/prmID/717 target=_blank>Ryszard Kapu&#347;ci&#324;ski</a>, Lech Wa&#322;&#281;sa, the electrician and former president. The letter was duly published in <em>Le Monde</em>. </p> <p>Contrary to the fears of those like Jacques Delors, the former head of the European Commission, who warned that the letter would only harm the pro-treaty cause, a few days later the &#147;yes&#148; campaign went back into the lead. Who is to say the views of almost all of Poland&#146;s foreign ministers after 1989 didn&#146;t help to reverse the trend? </p> <p>Then, a phalanx of heavyweight German intellectuals &#150; led by by G&#369;nter Grass and J&#369;rgen Habermas &#150; hove into view with another <em>Le Monde</em> missive. &#147;Does the majority of the French people really want to line up with the nationalists of the right and left. That would be a betrayal of reason which the French will in future be unable to forgive themselves for&#148; they exclaimed incredulously. </p> <p>It seemed that a dialogue was beginning to develop. Why shouldn&#146;t the British join in? With the &#147;no&#148; campaign going full speed ahead and the &#147;yes&#148; camp demoralised by having the Blairites insist the campaign be put off till after the election, wouldn&#146;t this be the moment to drop the French a line and raise the pro-European banner in the United Kingdom? </p></div><div><div class="pull_quote_article"><p><b>The <em>Le Monde</em> letter from Poland to France is <a href=http://ouiaureferendum.hautetfort.com/archive/2005/05/13/une_vision_polonaise.html target=_blank><em>here</em></a> and in English translation <a href=http://translate.google.com/translate?hl=en&sl=fr&u=http://ouiaureferendum.hautetfort.com/archive/2005/05/13/une_vision_polonaise.html&prev=/search%3Fq%3DRyszard%2BKapu%25C5%259Bci%25C5%2584ski%2BAndrzej%2BWajda%2Ble%2Bmonde%26hl%3Den%26lr%3D target=_blank><em>here</em></a></b></p> </div><p>But this is where the problems began. Almost everyone I contacted said it was a bad idea. There were two main arguments. A quite daft one was laid out by <a href=http://news.ft.com/cms/s/7ced7bcc-c0b6-11d9-a3da-00000e2511c8.html target=_blank>John Kay</a> in the <em>Financial Times</em>: that while it was ok to vote &#147;yes&#148; in Britain, it would be even better to have the French themselves ditch the constitution; after that everyone would salvage the useful bits. The other, maybe more realistic, was that the French and the British dislike each other so much that any advice to vote &#147;yes&#148; would have the opposite effect and vice versa. </p> <p>One committed pro-European in Britain wrote to me: <blockquote> &#147;Atavistic sentiments are such that, for example, if I were to read a letter from French people urging me to vote yes it would be the one thing that would tempt me to vote no. Rejection of &#147;Anglo-Saxon&#148; Europe is a feature of both the yes and the no campaign and, if I were a French &#145;no&#146; campaigner I would use a letter from Brits to say &#145;if the British want you to vote yes it&#146;s got to be bad for you&#146;. I know it should not be thus but mutual antipathy remains very strong.&#148; </blockquote></p> <p>No letter from London <a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=2494">urging the French</a> to vote &#147;yes&#148; along the lines of the Polish or German message appeared. This is a pity. Nations (or rather some of their citizens) writing letters to nations is not a bad way of defining the project and telling ourselves why we want it to continue. The lack of contact between the various campaigns, the provincial nature of our national debates all shows we need to <a href="/democracy-europefuture/debate.jsp">talk across frontiers</a> if the European project is to survive. </p> <p>The train may be slowly drawing away from the station but I still believe <a href="/democracy-europefuture/article_339.jsp">letter-writing</a> has a future. In any event, we in Poland will be needing some letters to bolster our own &#147;yes&#148; campaign this <a href=http://www.european-referendum.org/up/up160.html target=_blank>autumn</a>.</p> </div></p> europe: after the constitution democracy & power europe Krzysztof Bobinski Creative Commons normal Sun, 22 May 2005 23:00:00 +0000 Krzysztof Bobinski 2532 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Poland's nervous 'return' to Europe https://www.opendemocracy.net/democracy-europefuture/article_1878.jsp <p> The barricades are up and the riot police are out in force. Shops in Warsaw&#146;s city centre are closed and boarded, and police refuse ordinary people entry to the &#147;safe&#148; area. Amidst the eerie calm, the media keep tension high by chattering about the possibility of violent demonstrations by anti-globalist demonstrators and local trade unionists. <div><div class="pull_quote_article">&#147;For the first few years at least, the Poles won&#146;t take the EU for granted, as you imply so many of its present citizens do. That&#146;s because for many Poles, getting in will be too much like coming home&#148;. Three years ago, Krzysztof Bobinski wrote an <strong>openDemocracy</strong> open letter to Reinhard Hesse: &#145;A stork&#146;s eye view from Poland&#146; (<a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=339">May 2001</a>) </div>These security measures are in place because on the eve of Poland&#146;s accession on Saturday 1 May to the European Union, Klaus Schwab&#146;s <a href=http://www.weforum.org/site/homepublic.nsf/Content/European+Economic+Summit+2004,+Warsaw,+Poland,+28-30+April+2004 target=_blank>World Economic Forum</a> is in town. The talk of &#147;threats&#148; is all the more credible as memory of the 11 March bombings in <a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=1808">Madrid</a> still lingers. Poles, whose military forces are in Iraq, wonder if they will be the next target of a terrorist attack. In a word: Poland on the eve of EU membership is joining the modern world. <p> <strong>An end or a beginning?</strong> </p><p> Poles perennially remind their fellow Europeans that their history and culture make their country the &#147;<a href=http://www.3w3.net/polska/Info/maps.html target=_blank>heart of Europe</a>&#148; (in Norman Davies&#146;s famous <a href=http://www.semcoop.com/detail/0192851527target=_blank>phrase</a>). In this sense they judge their entry into the European Union to be a confirmation of what they have always known and felt rather than a wholly new departure. </p><p> But this return to the European fold without rising to the challenge of acquiring a fresh political identity - at least in the short term - carries its dangers: that Poles remain fixated on an outdated imaginative &#147;model&#148; of their place in Europe, seek consolation rather than inspiration in the past, draw energy from revived historical grievances which disfigure the new relationships they need to build, use Catholic and nationalist sentiments as a shelter from the modern world rather than a route to engagement with it, or seek (British-style) to &#147;balance&#148; their European and American alignments in a way that leaves both their EU partners and their own aspirations for security and prosperity unsatisfied. </p><p> Polish people have not quite realised that the end of 200 years of (mostly) bad historical experiences also opens a genuinely new chapter that requires them to develop fresh skills - not the tradition of resistance to all-comers fuelled by 19th century romantic literature but the somewhat more &#147;protestant&#148; qualities needed to build a modern state. Instead, we enter the EU with many of our old fears and phobias. </p><p> A small but emblematic example: the fact that Leszek Miller, Poland&#146;s prime minister until his planned <a href=http://www.economist.com/agenda/PrinterFriendly.cfm?Story_ID=2550211 target=_blank>resignation</a> on 2 May, is flying to Dublin for the enlargement celebrations in the aeroplane of German Chancellor, Gerhard Schr&#337;der, has drawn much hostile, nationalist-inflected comment. </p><p> There are indeed some fears that Germans, millions of whom fled west amidst the collapse of Hitler&#146;s <em>Reich</em> from what became Polish territory, will demand restoration of their pre-1945 property; but cross-border trade with Germans is proceeding apace without tensions and <a href= healthy http://www.dw-world.de/english/0,3367,1433_A_1149926_1_A,00.html target=_blank>bilateral</a> relations are likely to remain. </p><p> The latter is also true of the other two EU &#147;giants&#148;, Britain and France. Britain continues to earn Poles&#146; respect despite the scare-stories in the country&#146;s notorious media about Polish welfare-seeking &#147;scroungers&#148; swarming into the UK. France&#146;s president, Jacques Chirac, made no friends among EU candidate countries like Poland sympathetic to the United States&#146;s policy over Iraq &#150; components of &#147;new Europe&#148; in Donald Rumsfeld&#146;s classification &#150; when he said in <a href=http://www.iht.com/articles/88049.html target=_blank>February 2003</a> that they had &#147;missed a great opportunity to remain silent&#148;. But many Poles recognise that this is more of a &#147;Chirac&#148; than a &#147;France&#148; problem and the country&#146;s culture continues to fascinate. </p><p> Meanwhile, the United States remains both popular and a magnet for the young &#150; despite the fact that accession has stamped &#147;European Union&#148; on the country, and that Poland has won few rewards from Washington for its pro-war stance and deployment of forces in Iraq. Poland will continue to view America, via Nato, as a guarantor of its security through the short and medium term. </p><p> In relation to EU foreign policy and defence issues as a whole, Poland will pull together with other member states, recognising that its place &#150; geographic, strategic, and political - is in Europe. Only in the context of even steeper deterioration in transatlantic relationships and a blocking of continuing European integration could Polish pro-American sentiment play a virulently negative role in the EU </p><p> <strong>The European complex</strong> </p><p> But here is the current paradox: there is almost no enthusiasm for European Union entry. The days when everyone in Poland seemed to be clamouring to enter the European Union - and were happy to be pulled into Nato by the United States &#150; are long gone. In the mid-1990s the opinion polls were showing support for both institutions at over 80%. Now, as the accession deal with Brussels is done, Poles are wondering what they have let themselves in for. </p><p> Support for the EU is still bolstered by the conviction that membership is a good thing &#147;in the long term&#148;, but when asked about the short term, the polls show the numbers slipping to around 40% or less. Party political campaigners in the European parliament elections on 13 June 2004 predict a turnout of 20% - the real measure of interest in the whole business. </p><p> In effect, support for the EU seems to have peaked in summer 2003 during the <a href=http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/2973738.stm target=_blank>referendum</a> on entry when around 59% turned out to vote and 77.5% of those voted &#147;yes&#148;. That was a vote for the future, but after it people returned to everyday and immediate worries. Their main concern is the prospect of rising food prices in the wake of accession. The noise of the labour market shutters going up in most of the (existing) fifteen member states heightens the sense of exclusion and reinforces the feeling Poles have that they will be second-class citizens in the EU. </p></div></p><p> These doubts increased in the autumn of 2003 as the debate about the post-enlargement EU <a href=http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/3252628.stm target=_blank>constitution</a> set Poland and Spain against a majority of EU countries, led by Germany and France. The acrimonious Brussels summit of December 2003, which failed to agree on the details of the constitution, further undermined the pro-EU feelings of the country&#146;s elites. </p><p> At the root of the dispute lay a change in the terms of membership that would govern national representation in decision-making by European institutions after enlargement. The voting formula agreed at the Nice summit of <a href=http://www.ce-review.org/00/44/huang44.htmltarget=_blank>December 2000</a> gave Poland and Spain a weighted vote greater than their population size strictly merited. By 2003, the existing large EU states proposed instead a &#147;double majority&#148; system &#150; requiring key decisions to be reached by a majority both of states and of 60% of the EU&#146;s total population. The latter, less favourable system underlined the stark reality that, even though Poland is the largest by far of the ten new entrants, the even larger and richer nations are determined to rule the <a href=http://www.masterpage.com.pl/outlook/pyrrhicvictory.html target=_blank>expanded EU</a>. </p><p> Where does Poland go from here? The auguries are not good for the period after <a href=http://english.peopledaily.com.cn/200403/27/eng20040327_138688.shtml target=_blank> Leszek Miller</a>&#146;s departure. His government of ex-communists has imploded; the support for his Democratic Left-led coalition, 41% at the September 2001 general <a href=http://www.electionworld.org/election/poland.htm target=_blank>election</a>, have declined to single figures. The parliament&#146;s term has another year or so to run, but the political capital of the prime minister who took Poland into the EU, and attended the Brussels summit in a wheelchair (following a flying accident) determined to defend the Nice formula, has evaporated. </p><p> Leszek Miller&#146;s exit on 2 May opens a discomforting prospect: weak interim government followed by early elections producing no clear majority, and successive fissile coalitions making governing the country difficult. The last few months have seen the emergence of a strong challenge from the populist <em>Samoobrona </em>(Self-defence) party led by <a href=http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Andrzej_Lepper target=_blank>Andrzej Lepper</a>. Its strident rhetoric accuses the entire political establishment of corruption and of selling the country to foreign interests. This impresses those, mainly the poor and elderly, nostalgic for the welfare protection provided by the pre-1989 communist regime. </p><p> These problems mean that politicians at least are giving little thought to &#147;European&#148; issues. But many of Poland&#146;s people are: the country will be awash in the summer with conferences and think-tank seminars examining at length Poland&#146;s future role in the EU. What picture will emerge? Certainly Poland will want to pull the EU in the direction of an active policy towards its &#147;near neighbourhood&#148; &#150; mainly bolstering the &#147;Europe-isation&#148; of the Ukraine but also Belarus and Moldova, but also helping ensure that Brussels keeps Russia at a safe distance. </p><p> <strong>A future without maps</strong> </p><p> <a href=http://www.lib.utexas.edu/maps/cia03/poland_sm03.gif target=_blank>Poland</a> may be the heart of Europe, but money will remain at the heart of Poland&#146;s relationship with the European Union. The best deal possible is that the flow of funds will remain capped at 4% of its GDP &#150; the maximum that new member-states are thought capable of absorbing in any given year. For a country whose GDP is 40% of the average of the current fifteen member-states, the total aid flow will necessarily be low. </p><p> Yet EU aid funds are crucial for local communities like P&#322;o&#324;sk, 60 kilometres north of Warsaw (and the home town of Ben Gurion, the founder of the state of Israel). Thanks to the EU, <a href=http://www.businessweek.com/2000/00_24/b3685306.htm target=_blank>P&#322;o&#324;sk</a> will be able to fix roads and drainage systems in the space of two years rather than the ten years these projects would have taken if the town had been forced to use its own funds. </p><p> But will regional funds prove the best way of stimulating growth? Many Poles and EU citizens elsewhere are asking whether market solutions like tax breaks might attract inward investment and thus become a faster means of &#147;equalisation&#148; of living standards. Even if so, the older member-states are unlikely to agree to have the new entrants drawing capital away from them. </p><p> Much of the financial concern over Poland&#146;s entry to the EU is grounded in the experience of its enormous agricultural sector. A third of the <a href=http://www.betterfarming.com/nov99/europe.htm target=_blank>farmers</a> in the enlarged EU will be Poles. Poland, under a government of any stripe, will push for solutions which help manage the inevitable reduction of the rural workforce while reinvigorating the <a href=http://www.goldmanprize.org/recipients/recipientProfile.cfm?recipientID=116 target=_blank>countryside</a> to create new sources of income &#150; a policy of &#147;diversification&#148; that, notwithstanding the staggering costs and homogenising impulses of the Common Agricultural Policy, is advocated also by the EU Commission. </p><p> Polish think-tanks and even some elements of the government administration are engaged in creative thinking about how Poland&#146;s economy might best benefit from enlargement. But will Poland be able to ensure that its projects and proposals are accepted in the Brussels headquarters of the European Union? The effervescent <a href=http://www.cer.org.uk/articles/34_grabbe.html target=_blank>Heather Grabbe</a> of the Centre for European Reform says that countries have to be large and rich to have influence in the EU. But, she adds, that is not enough: countries also need stable governments backed by a strong civil service able to coordinate policy positions and win allies for them within the Commission and among member states. </p><p> This, continues Heather Grabbe, <a href=http://www.iht.com/articles/124889.html target=_blank>explains</a> why Italy &#150; whose chaotic presidency of the EU Commission culminated in the fiasco of the December 2003 summit in Brussels - remains unable to exert its full weight in the EU. It also explains why Poland could well find itself outmanoeuvred. The country is big but not rich, its governments tend to the unstable (it has had ten post-communist prime ministers in fifteen years) and the integrity of its <a href=http://www.polandmonthly.pl/stories/cover_sep2003.htm target=_blank>public life</a> is not unalloyed; a leading film producer has just been arrested in an eponymous corruption scandal &#150; &#147;Rywingate&#148; &#150; which has intimately touched the worlds of politics, media and public policy. </p><p> Will Poland be able to compensate for these deficiencies by behaving smartly once it is a full player in EU counsels? That is the greatest worry. The first few years of membership could find Poland&#146;s politics in a <a href=http://www.taipeitimes.com/News/edit/archives/2004/04/08/2003135852/print target=_blank>chaotic state</a> while its public administration is still weak and policy coordination still problematic. The row over the EU constitution has shown that Poland has a penchant for a confrontational rather than a consensual approach. In the longer term things could turn out well &#150; in the context of the last 200 years of Polish history, 1 May 2004 offers some comfort here - but expect the first months and years to be bumpy. </p><p> </p> democracy & power europe ukraine: the orange revolution future of europe Krzysztof Bobinski Creative Commons normal Wed, 28 Apr 2004 23:00:00 +0000 Krzysztof Bobinski 1878 at https://www.opendemocracy.net A stork's eye view from Poland https://www.opendemocracy.net/democracy-europefuture/article_339.jsp Dear Reinhard Hesse, <p> I have sat down to write my response to you straight from a meeting of think tankers devoted to putting together a position on the future of (our? enlarged?) European Union. Soon foreign ministry officials and advisers from the member and the applicant states will also be meeting for a day in Warsaw. The local office of your German <a href=http://www.kas.de/stiftung/englisch/intro.html target=_blank>Adenauer Foundation</a> is at the same time organising a conference about Poland and Germany in 2012. </p><p> In a word we all seem to be very busy thinking about the future. </p><p> We dip for inspiration into Romano Prodi&#146;s <a href=http://europa.eu.int/futurum/ target=_blank>eu/futurum</a> website, where the debate is picking up steam. We feel that maybe we should be putting our oar in there too, just to show our flag. Even though Christoph Zopel, your deputy foreign minister, recently warned me in an interview that &#147;you will only be able fully to engage in the debate about Europe when you are inside and know the inner workings&#148;, we don&#146;t care. We know Europe expects us to have a point of view on its future. We are ready to do our duty. </p><p> Some of us are genuinely interested in the debate. Others are getting involved because &#147;Europe&#148; wants to know what we think. Europe promised us those votes in the council and the parliament at <a href=http://europa.eu.int/comm/nice_treaty/index_en.htm target=_blank>Nice</a>. Now Europe wants to know how we&#146;re going to use them. </p><p> Well, we&#146;re trying to work on our positions and our visions, but I can tell you it isn&#146;t easy in a position like ours. Perched (metaphorically) outside on the ledge, on a cold night, peering through a window into what appears to be a comfortable room, full of people who look rather pleased with themselves. &#147;Will they let us in?&#148;, we think. </p><p> We&#146;ve been out here for so long that, deep down, that is what really absorbs us, not thoughts about the future of the EU. That &#150; and the fear that the people inside might let in that cluster of freezing watchers at the next window, before us. &#147;Think of the indignity of it, they let in the Hungarians and the Estonians, leaving us Poles outside. And what&#146;s worse, they will be inside, deciding on how long they want to leave us out here on this narrow ledge.&#148; </p><p> So when think tankers meet, the conversation keeps returning to why they should let us in, and soon. And once we&#146;re in, we have to make sure that there is no second-class citizenship, no inner and outer circles, no hard cores. Finally, we decide to call the paper &#147;Doing Away with the Division of Europe&#148; &#150; that way, we&#146;ll put in all the arguments for why they should admit us, and get some thinking about the future in on the side. </p><p> But this is where we meet, Mr Hesse. You say the main challenge for our generation is enlargement. We agree. After all, what were we doing for all those years listening to <a href=http://www.rferl.org/ target=_blank>Radio Free Europe</a>, over the buzz of the jamming stations, telling us that we belonged over there with you rather than over here with them? </p><p> So, naturally, when the Wall came down and they went home, we thought that belonging wouldn&#146;t be as difficult as it&#146;s turning out to be. That&#146;s because Free Europe tended to keep the message simple. They didn&#146;t tell us about the <a href=http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/in_depth/europe/euro-glossary/1216329.stm target=_blank>acquis communautaire</a>. </p><p> <b>Loose ends and woolly jumpers</b> </p><p> As you are aware, the acquis is the EU&#146;s body of law, which has been put together through an infinite series of deals between the member states and the European Commission. The deals were often complex, requiring compromises by member states, and were sometimes sweetened by financial arrangements that enabled those who felt they needed to, to adapt. The acquis has, over the years, acquired a sacrosanct quality for those who put it together. These are mainly Commission officials and people in the member states who specialise in the EU. They know how much effort constructing the acquis requires. They also know where the loose ends are. And they know that, if someone pulls one of those loose ends, then the whole thing could unravel, like a woolly jumper. </p><p> That is why, if you want to join the EU, you have to accept the acquis in its entirety. The officials are insistent because they&#146;re terrified that someone might pull on the loose ends. The problem is, that you join without being able to extract any compromises out of the EU, or getting any of the sweeteners which went to the member states. It&#146;s take it or leave it. </p><p> Our negotiators know that. They accept that. They know they have to stick to the acquis. All they can hope for is to negotiate a transition period for, say, getting Polish roads up to the standard where mega trucks will be able to use them. </p><p> <b>Mega trucks and storks</b> </p><p> This is where the think tankers begin to ask questions. The environmentalists, for example, are asking why billions of euro should be spent on strengthening Polish roads (as required by the acquis) and not invested in developing railways, so that the big loads can go by rail. Does Poland actually want mega trucks like the ones that are threatening to flatten Austria? Why not make common cause with the Austrian government on this issue? </p><p> Storks are a good example. Each spring, a major part of the world stork population migrates to Poland. They like the extensive farming system that leaves lots of land in a more or less natural state replete with a diet of mice and frogs. Nevertheless, Poland is going to have to implement the <a href=http://www.ornithologiki.gr/en/sppe/enppep.htm target=_blank>bird protection directive</a>, which is written for Belgium where storks are very rare. When a stork makes it to Belgium, elaborate and costly measures have to be implemented to protect it. The cost is high. So high that when Poland gets into the Union, any Polish farmer seeing a stork will strangle it, shoot it or shoo it away for fear of the cost of implementing the directive. Result: no storks in Poland. </p><p> The problem is that no one has really faced the question of what comes first: protecting storks or protecting the acquis? Or &#150; whether economic growth should come first, or enforcing single market rules that mean that Poland should close down its tax attractive special enterprise zones, designed to entice much needed foreign investment. </p><p> For that matter, the question of how much the present member states are ready to spend on raising living standards in the applicant countries, and how much the applicant countries are going to expect the present member states to provide, still remains to be answered. Protecting storks and gaining economic growth &#150; they are really part of the same question. How are countries with significantly different levels of economic development going to live together in one organisation, where critical decisions are taken together by all, with each member state &#150; rich and poor &#150; holding the power of veto? </p><p> For the moment, both sides are trying to shoehorn the problem into the structures of the acquis. That&#146;s why the negotiations aren&#146;t going smoothly. They could go better if political leaders on both sides were to sit down together and try to establish a consensus vivendi for our future, larger Europe. </p><p> <b>Closeness of thinking</b> </p><p> You might recall that the breakthrough in Great Britain&#146;s second successful attempt to join the European Community came when President Pompidou and Edward Heath met in May 1971. The British ambassador in France, Christopher Soames, later wrote: &#147;the two heads of government discussed the future of Europe in all its aspects and established the closeness of their thinking on many points.&#148; After that, Soames intimated, there remained &#147;the question of strategic timing &#150; for how long should our two negotiating teams conduct their war of attrition in Brussels so as to show public opinion that the utmost had been done to defend each country&#146;s special interests?&#148; </p><p> That&#146;s the kind of agreement we need now. Top people from both member and applicant states sitting down for a few days to establish a &#147;closeness of their thinking&#148; on how they&#146;re going to arrange things for the next decade or more. It won&#146;t happen, you say. Maybe not. </p><p> So in the meantime, our think tankers are beginning to kick around the idea of a &#147;soft&#148; acquis. This would be an arrangement under which the member states recognise that different conditions in the two parts of Europe mean that it&#146;s silly to try and impose the same rules everywhere. Sometimes there has to be some give. In exchange, the applicants would declare that, for them, the unity of the EU would be of paramount concern. In other words, even if more loose ends appear in the woolly jumper, they will make sure it doesn&#146;t unravel. </p><p> <b>The Polish vision</b> </p><p> Which would about wrap it up. I haven&#146;t told you much about our vision of the future of Europe. It&#146;s pretty conventional so far. Not much support for the intergovernmental method, and official backing for a strong Commission working with the European Council &#150; ie the traditional way. Like Finland and Sweden, Poland at least will want the EU to conduct a clear policy towards Russia. Poland will also want a policy that keeps the Ukraine independent, steers Belarus towards democracy, and maintains contacts with citizens in all three countries across friendly borders. On defence matters, Poland will go along with the EU&#146;s nascent military force. But its military men will always look to the US and Nato for defence of its borders. </p><p> Oh, and one thing is clear. For the first few years at least, the Poles won&#146;t take the EU for granted, as you imply so many of its present citizens do. That&#146;s because for many Poles, getting in will be too much like coming home.</p> democracy & power europe future of europe Krzysztof Bobinski Creative Commons normal Thu, 24 May 2001 23:00:00 +0000 Krzysztof Bobinski 339 at https://www.opendemocracy.net