Polsk säkerhet idag och imorgon

Authors:

  • Bo Ljung
  • Karlis Neretnieks

Publish date: 2013-02-04

Report number: FOI-R--3593--SE

Pages: 69

Written in: Swedish

Keywords:

  • Poland
  • security policy
  • defence policy
  • national security strategy
  • defence reform
  • regional cooperation
  • NATO
  • CSDP
  • USA
  • Sweden.

Abstract

This report analyses current Polish security and defence policy and its development. How does Poland perceive its role? What are Polish ambitions concerning NATO and the EU (CSDP)? This also holds for Polish relations to the US, to Germany, and to Russia. A present issue in Poland is the on-going defence reform and how this relates to requirements for national defence. Of particular Swedish interest is how Poland regards its role in the Baltic Sea region and the options for regional co-operation here. The first relatively free elections in an Eastern bloc country in June 1989 transferred power to a government dominated by the up to then illegal trade union organisation Solidarity. A period characterised by political division with frequent changes of government and economically depressed conditions followed. However, a reform policy could be realized that rectified the continuous inflation and stabilized political conditions. A policy with modernization of the country as a prominent theme was launched. In terms of security policy, the objectives after liberation were to develop relations to the US - in order to receive the decisive strategic support Poland needed - and to gain admittance to NATO and the EU. Another central issue concerned reconciliation with the former enemies Germany and Russia (the Soviet Union). Reconciliation with Germany was the easiest one to bring about. Economic and trade incentives were at hand here. Today, Germany is of prime importance for Polish industry. However, reconciliation with Russia has been more problematic, even if progress has been attained. The significance of trade with Russia is obvious for the Poles, even if this country is seen as unstable and Russian policy as uncertain and often arrogant. The East-West dimension remains the most important one in Polish security policy. The NATO membership continuously constitutes the core of this policy. Poland supports continued military transformation of the alliance and selective commitment outside Europe provided that the ability of collective defence remains. Priorities in Polish security policy are however now partly being altered. This reflects Poland's present readiness to broaden its international role, but also that Polish expectations on NATO and the US have not been entirely fulfilled. Thus, a more active policy within the EU and CSDP is now being pursued, however with moderate expectations about possible progress. Several commentators in Poland hold the view that NATO and the EU both are in need of a fresh start in order to restore them to dynamism. Concerning Polish Baltic Sea policy the assessment is that the country's role here could be developed. Poland, however, does not consider itself ready to take on a leading part in the region. Instead expectations on a more active Swedish role are expressed. Also, an increased NATO presence in the Baltic Sea region is pointed out as desirable. Co-operation within the Visegrad group (with the Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Hungary) and the Weimar triangle (with Germany and France) render Poland further possibilities to diversify international contacts and develop the regional role. Germany stands out as the most important European co-operative partner, also militarily. The reduction of the German Armed Forces is however seen as weakening NATO. The German-Russian relation is not regarded as worrying, but on some occasions as irritating. The Polish Armed Forces are presently undergoing a radical reform. Strategically the assessment is that national defence must be given increased importance. Simultaneously international operations remain essential, as they give impetus to modernisation. General conscription has been phased out and major renewal of equipment is planned. The aim is, including a reorganisation of the command structure, to attain a higher degree of professionalism in the armed forces. The largest shortfalls today are said to exist in air defence and naval forces. Equipment acquisition is largely sourced nationally, although domestic industry is not always competitive. The aim, as part of defence policy, is thereby to modernize the defence industry and increase its capability.

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