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    Poland’s Chance for Leadership in Europe: experts analyse Zbigniew Rau’s vision for the future

    Poland is on the cusp of a historic opportunity to take on an influential, even leadership role in Europe, according to experts from the Atlantic Council, Daniel Fried, and Aaron Korewa. In an analysis of Zbigniew Rau’s recent speech to the Polish parliament, the former US Ambassador to Poland and the Head of the Atlantic Council’s Warsaw office warn that conflicts with Germany and internal divisions could complicate the situation.

    “Germany appears to be in a rare moment of strategic flexibility, traumatised by the collapse of its earlier assumptions about Russia and – finally – moving in the direction Poland has long advocated. Poland should use the potential to cooperate with (and perhaps push) Germany to build a common European policy towards Russia. The Germans may be ready and, for their part, should be willing to work with the Poles to this end.” ,

    conclude Fried and Korewa

    Fried and Korewa suggest that, based on a generation of successful internal development and integration with Europe and NATO, Poland has the best chance in centuries to assume a powerful, even leading role. Rau presented a “convincing strategic vision” for Poland, including a commitment to defending the international order based on principles and a free world, a lasting alliance with the United States, resistance to Russian aggression, support for Ukraine in its struggle for survival and its full integration with the EU, and affirmation of Poland’s European future.

    Although Rau presented the current war in Ukraine as central to Poland’s strategy, the authors note that he recognized the democratic potential of Russia, saying that Russia could be “the Russia of Andrey Sakharov and Anna Politkovskaya.” According to Fried and Korewa, this approach “skillfully prepares Poland to be a leader while Europe builds its long-term future with Russia.”

    The experts believe that, despite sharp political divisions, Rau’s policy will not change significantly after the autumn elections, regardless of the outcome. However, they argue that Poland’s potential as a country setting the agenda in Europe is complicated by its disputes with the EU and Germany, especially if they become entrenched. The authors suggest that Poland was right to criticize Berlin’s approach to Russia and now has a chance to leverage the German government’s policy shift.

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