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

Italian Red Cross Chief: Don't Label Migrants 'Illegal'

Speaking at the United Nations headquarters in New York Wednesday Francesco Rocca says migrants are victims, not criminals More

US Intel Officials Cautious About New IS Threat

Threat, said to have been posted by alleged American member of Islamic State terror group, says Sunday’s attack in Texas ‘is only the beginning’ More

Eyes in Sky Monitor Weather, Predict Epidemics

Satellites track storms, population movements, ocean warming to predict disease conditions 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.
Mass Grave Exposes Entrenched Trafficking in Thailandi
X
May 05, 2015 5:50 PM
Police in southern Thailand have found two more camps believed to have held human trafficking victims -- one containing a buried skeleton. This comes just days after officials announced arrests in connection with the grisly discovery of 26 bodies in a mass grave at another location. Officials suspect as many as 400 mostly ethnic Rohingya from Myanmar were being held for ransom at the remote camp near the Malaysian border. Steve Sandford reports on developments in the case.
Video

Video Mass Grave Exposes Entrenched Trafficking in Thailand

Police in southern Thailand have found two more camps believed to have held human trafficking victims -- one containing a buried skeleton. This comes just days after officials announced arrests in connection with the grisly discovery of 26 bodies in a mass grave at another location. Officials suspect as many as 400 mostly ethnic Rohingya from Myanmar were being held for ransom at the remote camp near the Malaysian border. Steve Sandford reports on developments in the case.
Video

Video Russia's 'Victory Day' Glory Over Nazis Overshadowed by Ukraine

ussia is preparing to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II, known since the Soviet era as “The Great Patriotic War,” with a massive parade on May 9th of military hardware and millions of medals handed out to veterans or their relatives. But critics say the Soviet-style display of power and nationalism overshadows tragic scars during and after the war that still influence politics and foreign policy, especially in the current Ukraine crisis.
Video

Video WWII Anniversary Brings Old Friends and New Worries

The 70th anniversary of the end of World War II has special significance, with Russia becoming more assertive in Ukraine and sending its military planes to the edges of western countries’ airspace. Changes in the geostrategic balance and the transatlantic relationship are felt across the continent, not least in German towns that have hosted U.S. military bases since the defeat of Nazi Germany. VOA’s Al Pessin visited Schweinfurt, Germany, where a large base closed last year.
Video

Video Abraham Lincoln Funeral Re-created for 150th Civil War Anniversary

Over the last four years, commemorative events to mark the 150th anniversary of the U.S. Civil War have brought thousands of visitors to battlefields and historic landmarks across the country. As VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports from the Midwest state of Illinois, the final event in the Civil War's sesquicentennial honors the final journey home of the slain American President, Abraham Lincoln.
Video

Video Campaign Raises Money to 'Uncuff' Journalists

Beginning Sunday – World Press Freedom Day – the Committee to Protect Journalists, a private U.S. group, is launching a campaign to bring attention to their plight and encourage efforts to free them. Deborah Block reports.
Video

Video Volunteers Pull Together to Aid Baltimore Riot Victims

Calm has returned to Baltimore, Maryland, after authorities lifted an overnight curfew imposed almost a week ago to stem the rioting that followed the funeral of Freddie Gray - the 25-year-old black man who died of spinal injuries suffered while in police custody. Six police officers, three of them African-American, have been charged in connection with his death. Baltimore is now trying to get back to normal, in part with the help of volunteers who responded to calls to help those in the city'
Video

Video From Aleppo To Berlin: Band of Brothers Escapes Civil War

Hundreds of thousands of Syrians have fled the civil war in their country and journeyed to Europe by boat across the Mediterranean. It is a terrifying ordeal with dangers at every turn. A group of Syrian brothers and their friends describe their ordeal as they try to reach Germany. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports. ...
Video

Video Rural Nepal Suffers Brunt of Quake’s Devastation

Nepal is still coming to grips with the full extent of the devastation and misery caused by last Saturday’s magnitude 7.8 earthquake. Some of the hardest-hit communities have been cut off by landslides making it difficult to assess the precise toll. A VOA News crew has been among the first to reach a few of the smaller, remote communities. Correspondent Steve Herman reports from the Sindhupolchak district, east of Kathmandu, which suffered greatly in Nepal’s worst quake in more than 80 years.
Video

Video Obama Praises Work of 3 Immigrant Journalists

President Barack Obama met with three immigrant journalists at the White House Friday to praise them for their work ahead of World Press Freedom Day, May 3. In attendance: Dieu Cay (his pen name) a blogger from Vietnam recently released from prison; Lily Mengesha from Ethiopia who was harassed and detained for exposing the marrying off of young girls as child brides, and Fatima Tlisova, an ethnic Circassian from the North Caucasus region of Russia, who works for VOA's Russian Service.
Video

Video Middle East Atheist Channel Defies Taboo

In Egypt, a deeply religious country in a deeply religious region, atheism is not only taboo, it is dangerous. It is sometimes even criminal to publicly declare nonbelief. Despite the danger, one group of activists is pushing back with a new online channel that defends the right not to believe. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Nepal Quake Survivors Tell Their Stories

Against all hope, rescuers have found a few more survivors of the devastating earthquake that hit Nepal last Saturday. Mountain climbers and hikers trapped in remote places also have been airlifted to safety, and aid is finally reaching people in the areas closest to the quake's epicenter. Survivors and rescuers are now recounting their experience. Zlatica Hoke has this story.
Video

Video Lessons for Germany, Europe Remain on Anniversary of WWII's End

The 70th anniversary of the end of World War II will be marked May 8-9 in all European countries except Germany, which lost the war. How is the war viewed there, and what impact is it still having? From Berlin, VOA’s Al Pessin reports.
Video

Video Nepal Town Destroyed By Quake Counts Itself Lucky

Foreign search teams on Wednesday began reaching some of the communities outside Kathmandu that suffered worse damage than Nepal’s capital from last Saturday’s massive earthquake. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman is in Sankhu - a town of about 10,000 people - where there is relief the death toll is not higher despite widespread destruction.
Video

Video Somali Hotel Chain Owner Strives to Make a Difference

Many in the Somali diaspora are returning home to make a new life despite the continuing risks. Since 2011 when a military campaign against Al-Shabab militants began making progress, members of the diaspora community have come back to open hospitals, schools, hotels, restaurants and other businesses. Abdulaziz Billow in Mogadishu profiles the owner of a chain of hotels and restaurants who is helping to bring change to the once-deadly Somali capital.
Video

Video Child Migrants Cross Mediterranean Alone, Face Unknown Future

Among the thousands of migrants making the deadly journey by boat to Europe, there are unaccompanied girls and boys. Some have been sent by relatives to earn money; others are orphaned or fleeing war. From a shelter for young migrants in the Sicilian town of Caltagirone, VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.

VOA Blogs