Polish, Lithuanian leaders hope for 'more pragmatic' relations

  • 2006-11-08
  • By Arturas Racas

PALACE, INDEED: Once Kaczynski moved into the Presidential Palace, relations between Poland and the Baltic states have greatly improved, especially when it comes to EU interests.

VILNIUS - Lithuanian-Polish relations may enter a new, more pragmatic phase now that twin brothers Jaroslaw and Lech Kaczynski have come into power, Lithuanian analysts and experts say. Poland's relations with the rest of the European Union cooled down after the radical Law and Justice Party came to power in July and Jaroslaw Kaczynski, the twin brother of president Lech Kaczynski became Poland's prime minister.

According to Raimundas Lopata, head of Vilnius University's Institute of Political Sciences and International Relations, Poland, at this time, found itself in diplomatic isolation within the EU. As a result, the country developed a closer friendship with Lithuania and the other Baltic states.

Justinas Karosas, chairman of Parliament's foreign relations committee, echoed this point.
"For a long time, Poland was seen as Lithuania's assistant to Europe," he said. "Now we can finally pay Poland back by helping break EU skepticism after the nation's recent political alterations."
"This is very good for us, as we have a lot of common interests with Poland," Karosas added.
On Nov. 6, all three Baltic presidents met with the Kaczynski twins to discuss bilateral and EU relations. The meeting may serve as proof that Poland, using its long-time cooperation with Lithuania, is now reaching out to all three Baltic states, Lopata said.

"This may be in the interest of Lithuania, especially if bilateral cooperation becomes more pragmatic than before," Lopata said. "Lithuania and Poland need to fill their existing EU role with more content and the current situation is quite favorable for it."
He highlighted regional infrastructure projects, such as Rail Baltica, a modern railroad that would connect Helsinki to Warsaw, passing through all three Baltic countries, the north-south Via Baltica highway, and energy links between Lithuania and Poland. "These are projects where Lithuania and Poland, as well as the other two Baltic states, can closely work together, including the joint cooperation inside the EU," Lopata said.

Polish president Lech Kaczynski agreed.
"Cooperation between the Baltic states and Poland in NATO and the European Union - particularly in the EU - can bring significant results," he said after meeting with Baltic presidents.
Both the Polish head-of-state and Karosas expressed hope that the November meeting would not be the region's last.
"We have common interests in the European Union, and speaking there as one voice could achieve more than acting individually," Karosas said.