It was a rocky start. Jarosław Kaczyński, surprised by the election, victory put Witold Waszczykowski, a diplomat not famous for finesse, in charge of foreign policy.
Due to Zbigniew Ziobro, the minister of Justice, Poland also struggled with the EU on the rule of law and later with Israel and Jewish communities in the case of the Holocaust law, which cost us much politically.
Since then, Poland has proved that its membership in the EU is not simply about following orders from Germany and France. It was Polish pressure that compelled Brussels to abandon the effort to push a system in which Brussels and not state governments decide on asylum policy.
Poland also blocked a policy of climate neutrality by 2050 that would not support states that are lagging behind. France’s plan to create a two-speed EU — with a smaller group of members integrated around the euro — was also rejected by Germany, partially out of fear of isolating Poland.
PiS expertly used the conflict between Donald Trump and Germany and France, to see the deployment of US forces in Poland, initiated by Obama in 2016. The result yielded deeper energy cooperation and inclusion in the visa waiver program.
These close relations also led to Poland being a force drawing London and Brussels closer to an agreement after Brexit.
PiS, just like their predecessors, suffered a defeat in relations with Russia. Czaputowicz’s meeting with Lavrov did not lead to a breakthrough as Russia’s imperialist policies are in clear contrast to Poland’s interests.
After tense relations with Ukraine under Petro Poroshenko, Volodymir Zelensky’s presidency offers a chance for a new opening.