Saturday, 4 February 2012

'The Cable Reporting from Munich Security Conference

Foreign Policy blog The Cable has made some good posts at the Munich Security Conference. Notably, this quote from Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski:

The question posed to Sikorski and the other panelists at the Friday evening discussion was whether Germany could play a role in Europe today similar to the role the United States played in Europe after World War II. Sikorski said that Germany doesn't have the attributes of a hegemon, such as an overwhelming economy, a large military budget, and an international role commensurate of a preeminent regional power."So you will not be a benign hegemon in Europe and you shouldn't even try," Sikorski told his largely German audience. He even referred to lingering concerns about German power left over from the WWII period."Why is Russia always a bigger security challenge than Germany for Poland? When Germany gets too big for its boots, we always automatically add allies," Sikorski said. "So don't get too dizzy with success."Ouch."Germany cannot be said to be said to be similar to the United States [in the post WWII period]," Sikorski said. "The position of benign hegemon for Germany is not attainable, and therefore I would propose your actual position in the EU, which is a very honorable one, is the position of the largest shareholder."
Did Poland join NATO to counter Germany as much as Russia? Was it a reaction as much to World War Two as the Cold War? There is an element of that under the surface.

Of course, Poland doesn't have a stable history of independence. It is unlucky to be situated with no strategic or obvious natural borders, and between two large neighbours, so these fears are deeply ingrained in the national psyche. But it is unusual to take a slap at a neighbour and ally in public like this - especially at a time when the Germans have done nothing to deserve it!

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