France must overcome its negative view of Poland

French President Emmanuel Macron, left, welcomes Poland's President Andrzej Duda before a working lunch at the Elysee Palace Wednesday, Oct. 27, 2021 in Paris. (AP Photo/Michel Euler)
By Grzegorz Adamczyk
3 Min Read

The future of European defense depends on the Polish-French axis. The war in Ukraine has revealed that Russia is not the superpower some thought it was, that Ukraine has real strength and resilience, and that the balance of power has changed within the EU. It has also shown that the driving force for European security now comes from the east in the shape of Poland. 

France has still not caught up with the new geopolitical situation and still concentrates its diplomatic initiatives in Western Europe. This is because French leaders are prejudiced against Eastern Europe. This is evidenced by President Jacque Chirac telling future members of the EU from Central Europe that they missed an opportunity to keep out of the war in Iraq. President Emmanuel Macron repeated that kind of language in the autumn of 2022 when he condemned “war mongers” who risked escalating the conflict in Ukraine. 

It seems that many in France have failed to get beyond the stereotype of 20 years ago that the countries of Eastern Europe are “Atlanticists” or “neocons” and that France, as one of the countries of old Europe, should keep its distance. By maintaining such a stance, France risks weakening its own position. In current circumstances, it’s not possible to construct European security projects without the participation from NATO’s eastern flank. 

Poland is currently building the largest land-based military force in Europe. When Ukraine joins the EU, it will with Poland, its closest partner, combine the huge military investment of the Poles and the unique combat experience of Ukraine. It will then become clear that this is where the future of European defense lies. 

France must go through a Copernican scale revolution. Even if the duo of Germany and France continue as the economic engine of Europe, the future of European defense depends on the Polish-French duo. A partnership between France and Poland on European security would integrate Poland’s commitment to Transatlantic relations with French ambitions of European strategic autonomy.

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