On the Edge of ‘Europe’? A Polish Bridge Between East and West?

    • Cover Conference Prague
    • Presentation speakers
      • Christopher Reeves, Jesuit University Ignatianum in Krakow, Poland


    The paper will consider the extent to which Poland’s geographical position on the edge of the Euro-Atlantic security community influences its relations with its neighbours in both east and west. It has been observed that Poland’s eastern policy is its ‘specialism’, and that it can potentially act as a bridge between Eastern Europe and the European Union. Evidence for this can be found in the leading role that President Kwasniewski played in Ukraine during the Orange Revolution in 2004, in which he helped to facilitate a settlement between Ukrainian government and the opposition. More recently Poland has been the driving force behind the EU’s Eastern Partnership Programme. Since the beginning of Russia’s interventions in Ukraine from 2014, the east has assumed an even greater importance for Poland. A free and independent Ukraine has, from Warsaw’s perspective, long been seen as a vital security interest for Poland. What has been notable since the eruption of the crisis in Ukraine is that Poland’s role in relation to international efforts to contain the crisis has been downgraded. Significantly, Poland is not a party to the Normandy format on the international talks on the crisis in Ukraine. Moreover, while Poland has clearly been supportive of Ukraine’s efforts to regain control over its eastern territories, differences between the way the two countries’ view their respective histories, and disputes over the way each other’s minority communities are being treated, has complicated their relations. From the perspective of many Western European countries, Poland’s potential for promoting democracy in Eastern Europe has been weakened given the controversies that have surrounded the current government’s constitutional reforms.