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539 KATARZYNA PEŁCZYNSKA-NAŁECZ POLITICAL RELATIONS BETWEEN POLAND AND RUSSIA SINCE 1990 MORE THAN TWENTY years prior to 2010, Poland was the largest satellite within the global Soviet Empire centered on Russia. Today, the Republic of Poland is Russia’s largest European Union (EU) neighbor, while Russia is Poland’s largest non-EU neighbor. The line that used to separate the People’s Republic of Poland and the Soviet Union inside the Eastern bloc has become a section of the European Union’s external border. Depending on one’s vantage point, it is a border between the Western world and an area seen as the EU’s neighborhood, of which potential future members (looking from Brussels and Warsaw) are a part, or as a border with Russia and its zone of privileged interests (as seen from Moscow). The history of the border symbolically illustrates Polish-Russian relations over a twenty-year period—relations that have not been related to these two nations alone but which have been implicated in broader issues of significance to all of Europe. This chapter reviews the first two decades of relations between independent Poland and the Russian Federation (RF). They are primarily presented through the lens of difficult matters, since our mutual relations have indeed focused on contentious issues. The time that has elapsed makes it possible to address questions that have been posed since the early 1990s (though they have often elicited superficial or stereotypical answers): What is the essence of the problem in Polish-Russian relations? Are these problems rooted in historical phobias and prejudices, or do they reflect actual contradictions of interest? And finally, do the difficult relations amount to treading water or do they constitute a process that imbues bilateral relations with a new quality? It would be in order at this juncture to make two points that tend to be ignored in discussions on Polish-Russian problems but that need to be remembered in order to fully appreciate the momentum and meaning of interactions between Moscow and Warsaw.´ ˛ 540 KATARZYNA PEŁCZYNSKA-NAŁECZ´ ˛ First, present-day problems must not obscure the fact that, in historical terms, the period from 1990 to 2010 may well be considered a golden age in Polish-Russian relations. For the first time in centuries, a sovereign Poland has managed to build mutual relations with Russia without resorting to force. Moreover, the two countries have created a bilateral legal base, the provisions of which concerning “the inviolability of borders, territorial integrity, noninterference in internal affairs, and the right of nations to decide about their future” have been implemented, albeit not without problems. This new circumstance is, naturally, the result of many factors, not just of Polish or Russian decisions. Still, what we perceive today as being difficult and deeply unsatisfactory already constitutes a watershed and testifies to the enormous progress that has taken place in Moscow’s policy toward Warsaw, and vice versa. Second, Polish-Russian links must not be reduced exclusively to the intergovernmental sphere. The unquestionably difficult relations between the two governments have had little impact on the much better cooperation among business communities, social organizations, academics, and artists. Though initially after the disintegration of the Soviet Empire the scope of such cooperation diminished, that change was brought on mainly by the new social and economic circumstances and not by any tensions between Warsaw and Moscow. Four Problems In October 1990 in Moscow, the foreign ministers of Poland and the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic (RSFSR) signed a declaration of friendship and good-neighborly cooperation. The document, adopted even before the disintegration of the Soviet Union, is considered the symbolic beginning of the new, post-Soviet Polish-Russian relations. Since then, there have been moments of correct relations, but, for the most part, the atmosphere of bilateral contact was cool and tense: on several occasions top-level visits were canceled or cut short, for nine years (1993 to 2002) the president of Russia avoided visiting Poland, Moscow introduced economic sanctions against Poland, there were numerous diplomatic and political clashes, and media in both countries engaged in campaigns critical of the other. In hindsight, it is apparent that the recurring tensions have always been caused by the same set of issues: (1) the dismantling of the Soviet domination of Poland and Polish policies toward the EU and North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), (2) the policies of the two countries toward the states of Eastern Europe, (3) their relations in the energy sphere...


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