The Trouble with Poland

Demographically and strategically, Poland is by far the most important of Europe’s new members. But the country's significance, as well as its real achievements since 1989, are being overshadowed by the resentful, intolerant discourse and behavior of its current leaders.

“We are only demanding one thing, that we get back what was taken from us….If Poland had not had to live through the years 1939-1945, it would be a country of 66 million.” Thus spoke Polish Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski on the eve of the last European Union summit, when he sought to gain greater voting weight for his country within the EU by invoking the memory of Hitler’s war against Poland.

Kaczynski’s words, however, stand in contradiction with what happened in Paris this July 14th. For on Bastille Day, a small Polish contingent marched down the Champs de Elysée alongside the forces of 26 other EU national contingents, including the Germans, in a display of European unity.

This contrast perfectly summarizes today’s confused Poland – a country that boasts one of the highest levels of popular acceptance of the EU among all member countries, yet is the place where defense of the “national” interests is practiced most fiercely. Poland today is no longer “God’s Playground,” to use Norman Davies’s famous phrase. Instead, it seems more like a child’s playground: a strange mixture of inferiority and superiority complexes. The problem is that Poland’s unjustified lack of confidence is leading to an extremely unpleasant form of intolerance toward others.

To continue reading, please log in or enter your email address.

To read this article from our archive, please log in or register now. After entering your email, you'll have access to two free articles every month. For unlimited access to Project Syndicate, subscribe now.

required

By proceeding, you agree to our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy, which describes the personal data we collect and how we use it.

Log in

http://prosyn.org/kpzfMxB;

Cookies and Privacy

We use cookies to improve your experience on our website. To find out more, read our updated cookie policy and privacy policy.