On August 6th, 2015, the government of Poland swore in its new President Andrzej Duda, who firmly beat the former President Bronislaw Komorowski in this year’s election. Mr. Duda, who faces a considerable challenge in regards to foreign policy as he takes office, is working to implement policy ideas that were shared at IWP’s Kosciuszko Chair Spring Symposium this past April.
In his inaugural address to the Congress of Poland, President Duda spoke mainly about a major foreign relations problem for Poland: the current conflict in Eastern Ukraine, where Russian intervention is worrying for Poland due to its history of often being a victim of Russian aggression. To counter this threat, Mr. Duda outlined his “four pillars” of defense for Poland, which include the expansion of defense capabilities, further modernization of the armed forces, cooperation with NATO, and deeper defense integration within the European Union.
These plans echo the suggestions made by experts on the region at the recent Kosciuszko Chair conference, which was entitled “Between Russia and NATO: Security Challenges in Central and Eastern Europe,” and took place on April 25.
During this event, one speaker called for greater NATO involvement on the eastern flank of NATO countries, and noted that the flexing of NATO muscle in the east is a way to show Russia that the organization is serious about its “attack on one is an attack on all” policy. Moreover, President Duda’s new policy includes a key element that, as Dr. Marek Chodakiewicz noted at the conference, has been neglected by the countries of Central Europe throughout the history of the region: greater defense cooperation against a common enemy. Dr. Chodakiewicz pointed out that in the Interbellum period of the early 20th century, the countries of Central Europe focused their defense policies on small regional squabbles rather than the looming threat of Soviet Russia. Uniting these nations, which are now part of the European Union, is an integral part of Europe’s defense against any possible Russian aggression.
Mr. Duda seems not to be repeating the mistakes of his predecessors by making deeper partnerships with EU and NATO countries a core component of his new foreign policy. It seems that Mr. Duda has taken these suggestion to heart and is focused on making both Poland as well as NATO a more secure, and unified front against foreign aggression.