Third Polish Republic

  • Geopolitical Imagination of the Political Elites of the Third Polish Republic: An Outline of the Problem

    Author: Jarosław Macała
    Institution: University of Zielona Góra
    Year of publication: 2019
    Source: Show
    Pages: 62-79
    DOI Address:
    PDF: apsp/64/apsp6404.pdf

    The article deals with the issue of the development of geopolitical imagination of Polish political elites following 1989. The source database of the text are the most important official documents regarding the foreign policy of the Third Polish Republic: the policy statements of subsequent prime ministers and the so-called small policy statements of the ministers of foreign affairs. Discourse analysis and system analysis were used to analyse them, treating them as a social construct. Geopolitical imagination placed Poland in Europe, in the dangerous zone between Germany and Russia and on the border of the two civilizations. The escape from this “fatalism of geography” was the main goal of the elites of the Third Polish Republic. Hence the orientation towards the West, to ensure the exit from peripherality, security and development. To justify such a remodelling of their representations, the elites put forward an idealized image of the West. It facilitated the acceptance of the geopolitical choice made by the society and the associated severe limitation of Poland’s geopolitical and economic autonomy. The vehicles on the way to the West were bandwagoning towards the USA and Germany, which justified clientelism towards them. In various combinations, the representations about Poland’s key role in the post-communist region re-emerged following 1989 to strengthen its position in relation to the West and the East. As for the eastern direction, Poland’s goal was to move the imaginary borders of the West towards our eastern neighbours, mainly Belarus and Ukraine. This must have led to the negative reaction from Russia, which considered this area its sphere of influence. Russia was imagined by us to be an alien and enemy, and the change of this state of affairs would be a consequence of the Westernisation of Russia so desired by the Polish elites. It seems that in the years 1989–2015, one could speak of a certain interpretative community, which the LaJ (Law and Justice/Prawo i Sprawiedliwość) governments broke down following 2015. The LaJ foreign policy has become a hostage of those undermining the liberal democracy of internal political system changes. Their criticism in the EU states isolates and pushes towards servility to Washington. In turn, the Three Seas Initiative is too divided and weak to leverage Poland’s position. It seems that re-approaching the EU’s core may give us some freedom and better protection in external policy.

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