Today we started off at our first embassy visit of the program at the Polish embassy. After getting turned around about where to meet, I was still able to make it on time for the briefing. The first thing I noticed was how nice and modern the embassy building was and how polite everybody was being towards us. We were then pleasantly escorted into our briefing room where there was a wonderful arrangement of pastries and tea and coffee. I personally felt that we were treated very nicely at the embassy and they even gave us free goodies.
Our briefing was given to us by three people. One of the people briefing us was a Polish representative from NATO, a Polish representative from the EU, and a representative from the Polish embassy. I enjoyed this variety of speaker because we got to see how the country differed under their different hats and institutions. The briefing began with a short overview of Polish interest by the representative who was not associated with NATO or the EU and then he switched over to to his EU colleague for the Polish perspective in the EU. This man started off with discussing the focus of Poland’s interests, which is currently the East, or Russia. From the Polish perspective in the EU, Russia is still a threat and Poland is actively trying to work with its Eastern neighbors to try and work on this threat. Even though they are not very similar to the Eastern states, they all seem to want to come together to try and figure out what they need to do about Russia especially since their illegal annexation of Crimea. He also briefly mentioned pressure from the South, but stated that Poland believes that their borders should be maintained and the border of its partners should be maintained as well.
Then, the representative from NATO spoke to us about the differences of threat perception in NATO and what Poland viewed as its most pressing threat. Obviously again, it was pressure from the East. She discussed this in terms of the upcoming Warsaw summit and Poland’s goals at the Summit. The problem in Ukraine, Belarus, and Russia’s snap exercises were mentioned for goals to address during the summit. Another goal for the Warsaw summit was the enhancement of the Eastern Flank and the challenges Poland has doing that while not trying to provoke Russia. The lady also mentioned their principle of solidarity in terms of pressure in the South with the rest of their NATO partners, a need for common understanding in NATO between member states, a need for other countries to start spending more on defense, and the need to address rising security threats in hybrid warfare.
The briefing finished up with some insightful questions from my fellow students and one was interestingly strategically avoided by the Polish representatives on their recent slap on the rest by the EU. Overall, today was an interesting day that helped us to understand the views of one of the largest countries i the EU who is facing anew era of security challenges today.