Russia and Poland on path to “final reconciliation”

Russia and Poland on path to “final reconciliation”
The new character of ties between Moscow and Warsaw will have a positive impact on Russia’s relations with the European Union, analysts and media say.

Dmitry Medvedev has visited Poland, on the first state visit by a Russian President in eight years. “Even a year ago it was impossible to imagine a meeting between leaders of the two countries that had caused only worries to each other,” Kommersant daily said. But now they are speaking about the readiness to “close all the problem issues,” including a very painful episode in their history – the execution of Polish officers in Katyn, the paper added.

The Katyn issue and other “difficult points” dominated the negotiations, President Dmitry Medvedev said in Warsaw on Monday. He promised to remove barriers of the past from the bilateral relations. The “bad period has ended,” Polish President Bronisław Komorowski said in turn.

The presidents of the two countries have already started to speak about “final reconciliation,” Kommersant said. To show that Russia-Poland relations are now “not only the Katyn issue,” officials signed a package of documents, including economic agreements.

The Kremlin also expects Warsaw’s support for Medvedev’s idea of a “sectoral missile defense shield” for Europe, the daily noted. However, Komorowski was “cautious” speaking about this topic, it added.

One should not expect “breakthroughs” from the Russian president’s visit, Nezavisimaya Gazeta said, citing analysts. But the visit itself is already “a sign of normalization” of bilateral relations, it noted. So far cooperation has been hindered by “different interpretations” of joint pages of history.

Moscow believes “this obstacle has now been removed,” the paper said. The two countries have decided, in particular, to create centers of dialogue and harmony which should support the discussion of experts. 

The agenda for the talks between the two presidents shows that Russia-Poland relations have started to develop in different areas, believes Artem Malgin of the Moscow Institute of International Relations.

This change is partly confirmed by the fact that the group of Russian and Polish experts “on difficult questions” will discuss next year the issues of Russia-EU cooperation, Malgin told the paper. Poland takes over the chairmanship in the European Union in 2011. 

Moscow and Warsaw need each other in the context of European politics, Malgin believes. Therefore, Russia adds Warsaw to “its traditional partners” of Paris and Rome. Poland, in fact, has already supported the idea of easing restrictions on cross-border movement.

Some years ago Russia did not know what to expect from the Polish EU chairmanship, Nezavisimaya Gazeta said. But now it could give an additional impetus to relations between Russia and the European Union. Medvedev’s visit to Warsaw saw the start of preparation on the new Russia-EU agenda, the paper stressed.

Vremya Novostey daily cites a recent poll conducted by the Polish Institute of public opinion studies, according to which 92 per cent of Poles expected Medvedev’s visit “to have a positive effect” on the relations.

Russia and Poland are approaching the stage where historical issues will not be used in current politics, said Fedor Lukyanov, editor-in-chief of Russia in Global Affairs magazine. However, it is impossible to forget the difficult pages of history, he told website.

Moscow and Warsaw are unlikely to become allies, the analyst said. But they will not be “antagonists by definition” either, he believes. This is explained not only by the reconciliation at the political level, but also by “the situation in Europe that is being changed now.” But political steps should be followed by economic ones “to cement what has been achieved,” the analyst noted.

­Sergey Borisov, RT