News / Europe

Medvedev's Visit Signals Warming Relations with Poland

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev (L) and Polish President Bronislaw Komorowski during a meeting with public in Warsaw, Poland, 06 Dec 2010
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev (L) and Polish President Bronislaw Komorowski during a meeting with public in Warsaw, Poland, 06 Dec 2010

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev was in Poland this week for a two-day visit. The event has been heralded as a sign of improving relations on both sides.

Russian President Dmitri Medvedev arrived in Warsaw, Poland earlier this week in an atmosphere of warming relations between the two countries. He was the first Russian president to visit Poland in eight years.

Medvedev signed a series of economic agreements with Poland, but he also met with Polish President Bronislaw Komorowski and Prime Minister Donald Tusk to discuss some more sensitive issues. One of them was the investigation into the plane crash last April that killed Polish president Lech Kaczynski and 95 others, which happened just outside the Russian town of Smolensk.

Medvedev's entourage was met by several dozen protesters holding placards that read "Smolensk: We Want the Truth." There is still a right-wing faction in Poland that believes the plane crash was a Russian conspiracy. But Wojciech Borodzicz-Smolinski of the Warsaw-based Center for International Relations explains that for the most part, the Smolensk crash actually improved relations between the two countries.

"This significant change took place just after the Smolensk tragedy. We as Poles saw on TV the feelings that were shown by the Russian politicians and the Russians themselves, and that significantly changed the climate between our two countries," he said. "We still have problems, but it is easier to talk about them if you know that your partner is a real human being."

Relations between Poland and Russia have been frosty since the Soviet empire collapsed in 1989, and Poland's previous president, Lech Kaczynski, was openly hostile toward Russia. But Polish politics have changed in recent years, and the current administration has taken a more conciliatory stance.

Candles, flowers and Polish flags mark gravestones of Polish officers killed 70 years ago by Soviet secret police in the Katyn massacre, during commemorating events in Kharkiv, Ukraine (File)
Candles, flowers and Polish flags mark gravestones of Polish officers killed 70 years ago by Soviet secret police in the Katyn massacre, during commemorating events in Kharkiv, Ukraine (File)

Last month, Poland welcomed a declaration by the lower house of the Russian parliament, the Duma, regarding the 1940 massacre of over 20,000 Polish officers in the forest of Katyn. For the first time, the Duma officially admitted that the killings were carried out under the direct orders of Josef Stalin. For years Russia had claimed that the Nazis were responsible for the massacre, which has long been a sensitive issue for Poland.

At a press conference on Monday, Mr Komorowski said that the Duma's declaration was very important. This is not only a new chapter in Polish-Russian relations, but a good chapter, he said.

But while Poland may have been concerned about history, Russia made no attempt to hide its economic interests.

At the same press conference, Medvedev emphasized that Russian companies were interested in investing in Poland. Russia wants to develop open, friendly relations with Europe, he said, especially with those countries connected to Russia's gas pipeline.

Borodzicz-Smolinski says that although Russian companies are already active in Europe, smoothing ruffled feathers in Poland could be crucial if Russia wants to take the economic relationship to the next level.

"For Russians, it is important for their international policy to have good relations with Poland, because they understand that Poland is an important actor in the European Union," said Borodzicz-Smolinski. "Russians know that if they do not solve problems with Poland, it will be hard to have some achievements on the EU market. Russia needs political recognition as a real partner. Having unsolved problems, even historical problems, Russia cannot act as a partner of the whole EU."

In this respect, he adds, Medvedev could be a more effective ambassador for his country than was his predecessor, Vladimir Putin.

"He does not have any KGB past, and he is a well-educated lawyer. This is why Mr. Medvedev has more of a chance to become a kind of partner or colleague of the EU. He is somehow representing the new face of Russia," he said.

Medvedev's visit also happened to coincide with WikiLeaks' revelation that NATO had been drawing up plans to defend Poland and the Baltic states from a possible Russian attack. Russia responded that NATO was wrong to think of it as an enemy. Medvedev, at least, hopes that his visit to Poland will help build a little more trust between his country and Europe.

You May Like

Nigeria Incumbent in Tight Spot as Poll Nears

Muhammadu Buhari is running a strong challenge to Goodluck Jonathan, amid a faltering economy and Boko Haram security worries More

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo tells VOA that despite her fame, life is still a struggle as she waits for government's promise of support to arrive More

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

At least seven different indigenous groups in Ratanakiri depend mainly on forest products for their survival, say they face loss of their land, traditional way of life More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More