- The Washington Times - Monday, June 25, 2007


NICOSIA, Cyprus — Poland’s demons of the past, which nearly wrecked last week’s European Union summit, are likely to remain the dominant feature of the present conservative government, European analysts think.

The “ruling twins” — President Lech Kaczynski and his brother, Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski — remain suspicious of both Germany and Russia, the two powers that subjugated Poland during much of its history.

As a result, European unity is a distant concept for the ultranationalistic regime, which prefers U.S. and NATO guarantees to the untested objectives and clout of the European Union.

Many Poles think Russia is trying to regain influence in Central Europe by rolling back NATO’s presence in the former Soviet orbit. Poland and the neighboring Czech Republic are negotiating the planned deployment of a U.S. missile shield on their territories.

“What interests the Poles is the future of Poland, not of Europe,” the Polish president said.

“This government intends to defend Poland’s interests in the EU, even if it annoys some member states,” said Rafal Trzaskowski of the Natolin European Center in Warsaw.

Pleading the cause of European unity, the summit meeting of the 27 EU members managed to placate Poland’s opposition to a new voting system that would weaken the veto now available to each member state. The European Union did so by postponing the system’s application to 2017 as it prepares a new set of rules to govern the community, pending ratification by the end of the year.

The outcome permitted the Europeans to congratulate German Chancellor Angela Merkel, the current head of the rotating EU presidency, on laying the foundations of a new constitution to replace one rejected by French and Dutch voters two years ago.

While many questions dividing the European Union remain unanswered, Jose Manuel Barroso, president of the European Commission, declared that the decisions “show that Europe is on the move, and on the move in the right direction.”

Rebellious Poland, which fears losing its influence in favor of more populous Germany under the proposed voting system, was warned to “forget World War II” in order to move forward.

That war, during which Poland lost 6 million people, or 18 percent of its prewar population, and saw its eastern territories ceded to the former Soviet Union, is not something the Poles will easily forget, particularly with the Kaczynskis in power.

The twins have sworn that Poland will never again be what the Nazis considered as the “border land” between Germany and the Soviet Union.

The parents of the 58-year-old Kaczynski twins were among the 1944 insurgents who battled the Nazis in the ruins of Warsaw while Soviet troops remained inactive on the banks of the Vistula river.

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