Poland played the 'good cop-bad cop' game vis-à-vis Russia, with a pragmatic prime minister and a hardline president, but with the tragic passing of the latter, the time is ripe to abandon this policy of confrontation, Piotr Maciej Kaczy?ski, a researcher at the Centre for European Policy Studies (CEPS), told EURACTIV in an interview.
In the days since the tragic deaths of Polish President Lech Kaczy?ski and his high-level delegation of 95 people as the presidential plane was attempting to land in Smolensk on Saturday (EURACTIV 10/04/10), Polish-Russian relations have improved, the CEPS expert said.
Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin personally met Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk at the site of the crash and ordinary Russians are laying flowers in front of the Polish embassy in Moscow, leading the analyst to highlight "the great level of goodwill on both sides: in Poland towards Russia and in Russia towards Poland".
"This is substituting what was [there] before: the main sentiment in Poland towards Russia, which was suspicion, and the main sentiments of Russians towards Poles, which were ignorance or disappointment," Kaczy?ski said.
The "paradox" of Poland's "dual policy" towards Russia was that the two different approaches had reinforced one another, he explained.
"Tusk would not have been as successful in his policy towards Russia without having President Kaczy?ski behind his back. He could tell the Russians: if you don't talk to me, talk to him. So it's better that you talk to me," the analyst said.
"But Poles have to change the policy of confrontation vis-à-vis Russia. There is no room for confrontation any more," he insisted.
Kaczy?ski said relations could improve further, but not at the expense of Poland changing its positions of supporting Ukrainian membership of the EU and NATO, maintaining the territorial integrity of Georgia – parts of which have seceded following the Russian invasion – and diversifying gas supplies.
He also stressed that Poland had not yet received an apology from Russia for the Katyn massacre. Real reconciliation will not be possible as long as Moscow maintains its present attitude of rehabilitating Stalinism and as long as "problems of democracy" in Russia persist.
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