‘Stereotypes about Central and Eastern Europeans being lesser countries are fading,’ says Poland’s NATO ambassador

Poland’s military might and its humanitarian aid to Ukraine is changing perceptions in the West

editor: Grzegorz Adamczyk
author: TVP Info

Politico’s Matthew Karnitschnig recently wrote that Poland probably has the strongest army on mainland Europe and its position is likely to strengthen.

Poland, following the Russian invasion of Ukraine, has been purchasing significant amounts of weapons from the U.S. and South Korea, and increased its share of GDP spent on defense. It also responded calmly to the recent missile explosion in eastern Poland which killed two civilians and threatened a diplomatic crisis.

According to Politico, the U.S. now sees Poland as its most important military partner in Europe because Poland, unlike Germany, is serious about its army and remains committed to considerable defense spending.

Asked about the article on Polish public television channel TVP, Poland’s ambassador to NATO Tomasz Szatkowski said that he agreed but found the words of a Scandinavian diplomat, to whom he spoke, even more significant. He had said that Poland behaved like a superpower in the aftermath of the missile strike last week. Szatkowski felt that this might be an exaggeration but is indicative of how Poland’s potential is being noticed by its partners.

“Slowly but surely stereotypes about Central and Eastern Europeans being lesser countries are fading,” said Szatkowski. He added that Ukraine, with its stance on the war, is changing international relations. Poland, with its assistance and development of its own potential and diplomatic efforts, is also gaining. 

Asked about how Poland is now perceived within NATO, Szatkowski said that actions had now followed the geopolitics, and Poland’s key role in the eastern flank of NATO has become an undeniable reality.

According to the ambassador, Poland had also gained much by the exercise of soft power via the aid it has provided to Ukrainian refugees. This has helped to make Poland visible in the most possible way in the West.

But, in Szatkowski’s view, “the most important is the growth in Polish military potential which makes Poland a key NATO member state without whom the defense of the pact’s eastern flank would not be possible.”

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