It has been 25 years since Poland held free elections and emerged from behind the Iron Curtain, 15 years since it joined NATO, and ten years since it became a member of the EU. These milestones would not have been possible without American support for the project of Europe “whole and free.” Today that project appears, if not endangered, then fragile. The future of European expansion is in question and, although the Ukrainian crisis has refocused attention on U.S.-European security cooperation, the transatlantic relationship has increasingly been marked by disagreements, including over: surveillance, free trade, security spending and sanctioning Russia.
On May 22, the B, featuring:
Dr. Henryka Mościcka-Dendys
Undersecretary of State in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Poland in charge of European policy, human rights and parliamentary affairs
Ambassador Paula Dobriansky
Former Undersecretary of State for Democracy and Global Affairs
Senior Advisor, BPC
Here are key takeaways from the discussion:
Poland as a Model
“The changes in Eastern Europe are truly remarkable, and the countries of Eastern Europe should be commended on the strength of their reforms. But that doesn’t mean that the process is over.” – Ambassador Paula Dobriansky
After 25 years of development and growth, Poland is now poised to serve as a model in its region. According to Mościcka-Dendys, Poland has reached a “moment where we are willing to share our experiences with those who are beginning the transformative process” and “serve as a textbook example for those who struggle for democracy.”
Particularly, both Mościcka-Dendys and Dobriansky asserted that Poland could serve as a model for Ukraine. Poland’s transformation is made all the more impressive when compared to Ukraine. While emerging from the fall of the Soviet Union together, Poland has since quadrupled its GDP, while Ukraine’s GDP has only grown 40 percent.
The Future of the European Union
Both Ambassador Dobriansky and Undersecretary Mościcka-Dendys expressed optimism about the future of the European Union and the strength of its model, with Mościcka-Dendys asserting that “the European Union has contributed to security, prosperity, and freedom of its members.“ Through the transformative process of becoming and EU member, Mościcka-Dendys added, recipients of aid have become exporters of aid, like Poland. The EU continues to attract members, Dobriansky stated, because they share common values, a common view, and desire to be part of the process.
From Poland’s perspective, Undersecretary Mościcka-Dendys outlined several that the European Union should focus on: greater integration through the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), as well as energy and security cooperation. “Energy is crucial,” Mościcka-Dendys said, suggesting that the EU form an Energy Union, with the goal of making the energy market and supply of energy more stable, and making import-dependent states within the Union less vulnerable. In light of the Ukraine Crisis, Mościcka-Dendys also advocated for greater U.S. and NATO presence in Poland and throughout Eastern Europe. Russian incursions into Ukraine and the annexation of Crimea, Ambassador Dobriansky added, challenge international legal norms that are codified by NATO, the European Union, and the OSCE. “It is incumbent on us,” she added, “to act to manifest how important these concepts and norms are, because they’re being challenged,” by not only expanding NATO presence in Poland, but in Baltic states like Latvia and Estonia that have Russian populations.
“The European Project will not be completed until those who wish to join are able to.” – Undersecretary Mościcka-Dendys
The Ukraine Crisis will have long term effects, Mościcka-Dendys asserted, and should prove that nothing is guaranteed in terms of stability, and motivate the European Union and its partners to rethink security and international cooperation. Reform in Ukraine and other states in the European neighborhood is a long term process, Mościcka-Dendys, and is occurring in a less favorable environment than Poland’s development, and will require the EU to give greater focus to its Eastern neighborhood and provide concrete assistance to the states there.
For its part, Ambassador Dobriansky asserted that the United States should engage abroad, remembering that “our issues at home are connected with abroad.” There needs to be a sense of perspective, she said, it’s not in U.S. interests to cut ties and not invest in our transatlantic partnerships.