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    The British press agrees: “A story of Poland not as a backslider from western values but a defender of them”

    “This is where I glimpse a different narrative from the one that has emanated from Berlin and Paris: a story of Poland not as a backslider from western values but a defender of them,” writes in a report from Przemyśl British “The Sunday Times.”

    Matthew Syed points out that Poland’s aid to Ukrainian refugees is in complete contradiction with the narrative in the Western part of the European Union that it is a xenophobic and anti-immigrant country. The only person the open-minded Poles hate is Russian President Vladimir Putin.

     

    “I am here to see the dynamics of this refugee crisis, but also the role of Poland. It is a nation that has been viewed as a backslider from western values, a nation that abhors immigrants, a country that symbolises the crisis in liberalism. The longer I stay here, though, the more I detect the myopia of this narrative, pushed by supposedly more enlightened EU partners like Germany and France,” Syed writes.

     

    “From here, the idea that Poland is an unwelcoming nation seems more than a little jarring. It is true that it pushed back against the EU relocation scheme for Syrians fleeing conflict in 2015, hinting at a suspicion of multiculturalism and what many younger Poles tell me is a lingering bigotry against non-whites. But the arms thrown around two million Ukrainian refugees is nevertheless moving to behold, not least given the growing strain on public services, particularly around Warsaw,” the journalist keeps on.

     

    Poles help as much as they can

     

    He writes about Anna, who repairs computers in Przemyśl, and although she has already had a Ukrainian family in her spare room, she would like to take on more. It is about twenty-year-old Lucian, who offered to take in another refugee, even though there are three of them in his small flat. Over dozens of volunteers are willing to bring refugees across Europe to join their friends or family.

     

    “And this is where I glimpse a different narrative from the one that has emanated from Berlin and Paris: a story of Poland not as a backslider from western values but a defender of them. For was Poland not right to call for more robust sanctions against Russia after the annexation of Crimea? Was it not wise to protest against German dependence on Russian gas? Was it not justified in shuddering as EU powers continued to send weaponry to a man who had levelled Grozny and Aleppo, even after the arms embargo of 2014?” – Matthew Syed asks.

     

    He referred to a report by investigative journalists from the Investigate Europe project, which showed that between 2015 and 2020, EU countries delivered EUR 346 million worth of military equipment to Russia, including missiles, planes, rockets and bombs. “Germany and France were the worst offenders, exploiting “dual use” loopholes to arm Putin. Was this standing up for liberal values or was it the pursuit of naked self-interest at the expense of democratic allies?” – he asks rhetorically.

     

    “As I drive down the eastern flank of this great nation, this is the question that keeps nagging at me. Poland has no natural defences (the Carpathian mountains are to the south), so its 700-mile eastern border is hopelessly exposed. This is a nation that was carved up by Habsburgs, Prussia and the Russian empire, obliterated from the map for 123 years, before being oppressed by the Bolsheviks. How, in this context, could the West have ignored this fledgling democracy’s cries for help? How could we have failed to grasp its anxiety that NATO membership might prove worthless in the event of a Russian invasion? This is a nation that has been betrayed before. And isn’t it shameful that only now are the big western powers scrambling to act upon Poland’s advice?” – The Sunday Times’ journalist pinpoints.

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