December 19, 2003


Poland Takes Pride in Assertive Stance Toward Neighbors (MARK LANDLER, 12/19/03, NY Times)

Despite a population of 39 million and by far the largest economy in Central Europe, many here fear that Poland will not be treated as a full partner in a greater Europe.

"We keep seeing ourselves as a small country," Danuta Hübner, the minister for European affairs, said in an interview. "In fact, Poland is a big country. We are half of what is joining Europe in terms of population. We should have the responsibilities that come with being a big country."

Such talk is heard more and more often these days. Five months before it adds 10 new countries with 75 million people, the European Union seems to be cleaving into two camps — one centered on France and Germany, the other encompassing an assortment of bantam and middleweight countries.

This latest crisis erupted two weeks after Germany and France effectively vitiated the fiscal rules that govern the countries using the euro as their common currency, refusing to bring their budget deficits under a mandated ceiling.

For Europe's smaller countries — as well as would-be members, who are dutifully bringing their finances into line with European standards — the impunity with which France and Germany acted suggests that the union keeps a different rulebook for its biggest members.

In Poland's case, the frictions with Germany and France have been aggravated by Warsaw's staunch support of the American-led war on Iraq, which Berlin and Paris just as staunchly opposed. [...]

Not everybody here applauds Poland's intransigence. Marek Ostrowski, a leading foreign affairs commentator, said it was less a principled stand than a display of Poland's insecurities and pathologies.

Rather than defer to Poland, Mr. Ostrowski predicted, Germany and France will find a way to bypass it. He also questioned why Poland was so intent on cultivating an "exotic alliance" with Spain instead of working to close the gap with its natural partner, Germany.

Germany? They're Poland's natural enemy. Britain and America are it's natural allies, even if not always trustworthy ones.

Posted by Orrin Judd at December 19, 2003 6:30 AM

Has Landler never read Mein Kampf? Those who have know how Germany views Eastern Europe and its peoples.

Posted by: Bartman at December 19, 2003 2:16 PM