- The Washington Times - Monday, April 3, 2006

NICOSIA, Cyprus — A new conservative government in Poland is annoying its EU partners with an assertive anti-Russian, pro-American foreign policy that is seen to undermine EU efforts to “speak with one voice.”

Polish officials say the United States is much better able than the European Union to offer military security to Poland and other former Warsaw Pact members — an idea that appeals to countries long exposed to Russian domination.

Diplomats say Warsaw has been stressing ties with NATO and the Bush administration at the expense of its relationship with Brussels since the election in the fall of President Lech Kaczynski and the formation of a conservative government backed by the Catholic Church.

Under Mr. Kaczynski, Poland has been pressing to bring neighboring Ukraine into NATO, a move that would strengthen a buffer zone against Russia. Poland was a major supporter of Ukraine’s Orange Revolution in 2004, angering Russian President Vladimir Putin.

During the recent elections in Belarus, which confirmed the autocratic power of pro-Russian President Alexander Lukashenko, Poles were accused of interference and Polish diplomats and journalists were described as spies.

While visiting Paris in February, Mr. Kaczynski told French President Jacques Chirac that the planned European Constitution, rejected by France and the Netherlands, had no hope of being ratified by Poland.

“What interests the Poles is the future of Poland, not of Europe,” he was quoted as saying.

Meanwhile, negotiations are in progress for the installation of U.S. military bases in Poland as well as in Bulgaria and Romania, two countries scheduled for admission to the European Union next year. Some bases are said to be already operational.

The Polish government also has recalled 10 ambassadors appointed by the previous administration and promised a thorough investigation of its diplomatic service.

Polish organizations in Canada and elsewhere have said some embassies were staffed by former communists “who have secured control of emigre organizations and their media.”

Late last week, criminal charges were filed against Poland’s last communist dictator, Gen. Wojciech Jaruzelski, who installed martial law in 1981 to crush the Solidarity labor movement. About 100 people were killed and more than 10,000 were imprisoned without charge.

If convicted, Gen. Jaruzelski, 82, faces up to 11 years in prison. He has said the imposition of martial law was essential to prevent an invasion by the Soviet Union.

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