sábado, 11 de abril de 2015

A huge gap remains between western European mindset and that of central Europeans.

Poland’s warning to Europe: 
Russia’s aggression in Ukraine changes everything
by Natalie Nougayrède

Five years after the Smolensk plane crash, Warsaw has grown impatient with taking a diplomatic backseat

The train was trundling through the Warsaw suburbs towards the north-west. It was Easter weekend, and many travellers were on their way to family gatherings in the provinces. I shared the carriage with an elegantly dressed young Polish woman, who had studied in Birmingham and spoke fluent English. She now worked in Warsaw as a translator of Polish films. When I mentioned to her that in 2018 Poland would celebrate the centenary of its independence, she smiled hesitantly and said: “Yes … maybe we will get there.”

Nothing paints as poignant a picture of Europe’s history as a journey across this country, whose borders have shifted so many times and lands have been carved up so ruthlessly that it nearly disappeared from the map. It was a key battleground for two world wars, the scene of horrendous crimes, then became trapped for four decades behind the iron curtain. Today, Poland is the continent’s economic growth champion, a genuine success story of post-communist transition. But understandably, it is not free of anxieties.

Russia’s aggression against neighbouring Ukraine has changed almost everything. Poland is deeply concerned about its national security and about the degree of solidarity its western allies are able – and willing – to demonstrate. This anxiety is not limited to the ruling class, or politicians. It is deeply felt by the population. On 10 April, Poland will commemorate the fifth anniversary of the plane crash in Smolensk that killed its then president and 95 other Poles, many of whom belonged to the military and defence elite – a traumatic episode that was made worse by Russia’s refusal to authorise the return of the wreckage. All this explains why the woman on the train made nervous jokes about Poland making it to that anniversary unscathed.


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