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

Photogallery Early Nigeria Results Show Buhari Leading; Tampering Concerns Mount

One local group monitoring polls is concerned politicians might use security agencies to 'fiddle with the election collation process' at state level More

UN: 7,300 Civilians Killed in Boko Haram Insurgency

A senior UN humanitarian official tells the United Nations Security Council 1,000 people have been killed this year More

Turkish President Warns Iran About Trying to Dominate Middle East

Warning comes amid growing concerns inside Turkey that it will be sucked into a sectarian conflict with its neighbor 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.
Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadistsi
X
Greg Flakus
March 30, 2015 6:48 PM
At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadists

At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video With Coalition Airstrikes, Iraq Entering 'Last Page' of IS Battle

American warplanes joined Iraq's battle against the so-called 'Islamic State' in northern Iraq late Wednesday, as Iraqi ground troops launched a massive assault on Tikrit. Analysts say the offensive could take the coalition a step further towards Mosul, the largest city held by Islamic State forces. Others say it could also deepen already-dangerous sectarian tensions in the region. VOA's Heather Murdock has more from Cairo.
Video

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Tourism is a multi-billion dollar industry in the Philippines. Close to five million foreign visitors traveled there last year, perhaps lured by the country’s tropical beaches. But Jason Strother reports from Manila that the country hopes to entice more travelers to stay indoors and spend money inside new casinos.
Video

Video Civilian Casualties Push Men to Join Rebels in Ukraine

The continued fighting in eastern Ukraine and the shelling of civilian neighborhoods seem to be pushing more men to join the separatist fighters. Many of the new recruits are residents of Ukraine made bitter by new grievances, as well as old. VOA's Patrick Wells reports.
Video

Video Islamic State Prisoners Talk of Curiosity, God, Regret

Islamic State fighter, a prisoner of Kurdish YPG forces, asked his family asking for forgiveness: "I destroyed myself and I destroyed them along with me." The Syrian youth was one of two detainees who spoke to VOA’s Kurdish Service about the path they chose; their names have been changed and identifying details obscured. VOA's Zana Omer reports.
Video

Video Germanwings Findings Raise Issue of Psychological Testing for Pilots

More is being discovered about the co-pilot in the crash of Germanwings Flight 9525 in the French Alps. Investigators say he was hiding a medical condition, raising questions about the mental qualifications of pilots. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.
Video

Video Hi-tech Motorbike Helmet's Goal: Improve Road Safety

In cities with heavily congested traffic, people can get around much faster on a motorcycle than in a car. But a rider who is not sure of his route may have to stop to look at the map or consult a GPS. A Russian start-up company is working to make navigation easier for motorcyclists. Designers at Moscow-based LiveMap are developing a smart helmet with a built-in navigation system, head-mounted display and voice recognition. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video DOJ: Illinois National Guard Soldier Tried to Join ISIS

U.S. federal law enforcement agents arrested two suburban Chicago men accused of trying to join ISIS overseas, while also plotting attacks in the United States. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports from the Midwest state of Illinois, one of those arrested is a soldier of the Illinois National Guard.
Video

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Traditional push-rim wheelchairs create a lot of stress for arm, shoulder and neck muscles and joints. A redesigned chair, based on readily available bicycle technology, radically increases mobility while reducing the physical effort. VOA’s George Putic reports.
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 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.

VOA Blogs

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