The Evolution of External Environment Shaping Poland’s Independence
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Uniwersytet Warszawski
Publication date: 2020-06-16
Stosunki Międzynarodowe – International Relations 2018;54(1):25–45
The passing century of Poland’s independence reflects its strong correlation with a diversity of international factors. This correlation is incomparably stronger than in most European countries. Taking advantage of favourable international situation Poland manged to regain its independence (with a proportionally small contribution of its own), whereas its one time collapse, despite Poland’s strong resistance, proved effectively instrumental in its loss. In the second phase of that century, i.e. period of Cold War, Poland was officially an independent state in terms of formal constraints of international law, although its sovereignty was strongly curtailed, while initially – close to none whatsoever. At the same time, however, unlike in the interwar period, i.e. the times of the Second Republic, post-war Poland, i.e. People’s Republic of Poland, a country fenced off by the Iron Curtain, was guaranteed its international security by the Soviet Union, the hegemon of the communist system, in which Poland was, to all intents and purposes, a hostage to international peace. It was commonly acknowledged at the time that eventual all-out war might bring an unimaginable destruction to the country. Poland gained threat-free independence and true sovereignty only after the fall of the Communist Bloc, and subsequent division of Europe. This took place during the birth and short-term expansion of the liberal international order, in the concluding, third phase of that century. Poland became a part of the West in terms of its political, geopolitical, and institutional structure. Within the period spanning 1990 – 2015, the country boasted an impressive boom in all areas of life, although, as seems inevitable in the phase of post-transformation growth, the country’s booming development was spread out rather unevenly. Overall, however, it was by far one of the best quarters of a century in Poland’s history since 966 (in line with the criteria of peaceful relations with the neighbours, social cohesion, economic, and civilisational growth, e.g. life expectancy, acquired education level, etc.). The experience of this century offers some clear-cut pointers to be embraced by Polish political class with regard to pursuing the country’s foreign policy.