Monday

21st Jan 2019

Trump visit falls short of Polish expectations

  • Trump at Warsaw's Krasinski Square. The US president focused more on WWII and "the Polish character that no one could destroy" than on energy security and regional projects. (Photo: whitehouse.gov)

"America loves Poland," said US president Donald Trump during his first visit to Warsaw on Thursday (6 July). But behind the warm gestures of friendship displayed on both sides, little concrete action has been provided.

Expectations were very high as the right-wing Law and Justice (PiS) government proclaimed Trump's visit as a diplomatic success.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

The PiS government was expecting to get support from the US president for the so-called Three Seas initiative – a Polish-led scheme that is focused on building infrastructure in countries between the Adriatic, Baltic and Black Seas, as well as blocking the Nordstream 2 project, and more aggressive politics against Russia.

During his speech, Trump clearly mentioned the US attachment to Article 5 of the Nato treaty, which says that members of the alliance have to defend each other if one of them is attacked. He had failed to endorse this mutual defence provision at a Nato summit in May.

Trump promised that Poland would never be alone in the event of a security threat, but failed to mention the EU.

The much-awaited support for the Three Seas initiative came only in one short sentence, where he called it one of the most significant schemes the region has had so far.

The longest part of Trump’s speech was dedicated to Poland's "strong spirit" and World War II history.

"This speech can be evaluated in two different ways," Wojciech Przybylski, editor-in-chief of the Visegrad Insight review, told EUobserver.

"People who were afraid of Trump's performance were expecting more endorsement for separatist influences in Europe, aversion towards Muslim society or refugees. This did not happen," Przybylski noted.

"This speech was important, and one of Trump's best so far. But I find worrying how much space he devoted to war rhetoric," he added, pointing out that Trump praised a "strong" Poland in a strong Europe, but failed to mention the European Union.

The US president focused more on WWII and "the Polish character that no one could destroy" than on energy security and regional projects.

"This rhetoric might be seen as kind of hitting the drum for the ruling party [PiS], but a sort of reluctance to the model of a united European Union could be seen," Przybylski said. "It looked like the European Union doesn’t exist."

Trump's visit may also be seen as a disappointment for the Polish government.

The US president did not express opposition to Nord Stream 2, an offshore gas pipeline from Russia to Germany, which many experts see as grounds for a serious division between Western and Eastern European countries.

And, although he said that the Three Seas initiative is very important for the region, he didn’t mention any concrete steps that could be taken by the US to support the idea.

"The general interpretation was that president Trump came to Poland to support a concrete, ready-to-implemented idea. But that is not true," Tomas Strazay, director of the Slovak think-thank SFPA, told EUobserver.

Strazay said that the idea, which was launched last year by Poland's president, Andrej Duda, has proved controversial for countries such as Germany, the Czech Republic, and Slovakia – which see it as a potential rival to the EU.

He added that "as long as the Three Seas initiative doesn’t become a point of interest for the governments of the 12 countries it concerns, it has little chance of becoming a serious regional project."

"The truth is that the line between the south and north of Central Europe isn’t well developed," Strazay said. "We need to facilitate infrastructure and connection within the region – there’s nothing wrong about that."

But he noted that, in Poland, "this initiative has been politicised, and the media are partly guilty for this situation."

Mixing a meeting on the initiative with Trump's visit was a mistake, he said.

"This should have been two different events. Our countries should take care of their infrastructure – we cannot expect Americans do it for us."

Opinion

Duda project could trump Visegrad Group

The US president’s visit to Warsaw, ahead of the G20 meeting in Hamburg, puts a spotlight on a new EU eastern region initiative.

Poland avoids talks on rule-of-law sanctions

EU ministers meeting in Brussels asked the Polish government to reverse its judicial reform, in their first discussion of the European Commission's probe.

Opinion

Stop blaming Trump for Poland’s democratic crisis

If you were to judge events purely on the US media's headlines, you would be forgiven for wondering if the Polish government had anything to do with its recent controversial judicial reforms.

Opinion

Trump loses badly in debut with Putin

Vladimir Putin gained from his performance at the G20 summit in Hamburg. But the same can't be said about the US president.

News in Brief

  1. May U-turn on fee for EU nationals in UK
  2. French data watchdog gives Google €50m fine
  3. EU hits Russians with sanctions over Salisbury attack
  4. 'Don't look for answers to Brussels', EU tells UK
  5. Germany warns UK not to 'misuse' EU patience on Brexit
  6. Germany sent 8,658 asylum-seekers to other EU states
  7. Poll: Macron popularity up four percent
  8. 'Economy is broken' says Oxfam in global inequality report

Analysis

China's 2019 growth outlook

As China's growth seems to be slowing, some observers see the country amid what the New York Times called a "severe downturn". As they mistake China's secular deceleration with cyclical fluctuations, they miss the rapid increase in Chinese living standards.

Opinion

The Azov crisis will backfire

Vladimir Putin's nightmare of Petro Poroshenko's re-election will be even certain as Ukrainians rally around the flag. Next March's election is not just to elect a new president but also a commander-in-chief to deal with five more years of Putin.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. International Partnership For Human RightsKyrgyz authorities have to immediately release human rights defender Azimjon Askarov
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersSeminar on disability and user involvement
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersInternational appetite for Nordic food policies
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Nordic Innovation House in Hong Kong
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region has chance to become world leader when it comes to start-ups
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersTheresa May: “We will not be turning our backs on the Nordic region”
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsOpen letter to Emmanuel Macron ahead of Uzbek president's visit
  8. International Partnership for Human RightsRaising key human rights concerns during visit of Turkmenistan's foreign minister
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersState of the Nordic Region presented in Brussels
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic design sets the stage at COP24, running a competition for sustainable chairs
  2. Counter BalanceIn Kenya, a motorway funded by the European Investment Bank runs over roadside dwellers
  3. ACCACompany Law Package: Making the Best of Digital and Cross Border Mobility,
  4. International Partnership for Human RightsCivil Society Worried About Shortcomings in EU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Dialogue
  5. UNESDAThe European Soft Drinks Industry Supports over 1.7 Million Jobs
  6. Mission of China to the EUJointly Building Belt and Road Initiative Leads to a Better Future for All
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsCivil society asks PACE to appoint Rapporteur to probe issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan
  8. ACCASocial Mobility – How Can We Increase Opportunities Through Training and Education?
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersEnergy Solutions for a Greener Tomorrow
  10. UNICEFWhat Kind of Europe Do Children Want? Unicef & Eurochild Launch Survey on the Europe Kids Want
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Countries Take a Stand for Climate-Smart Energy Solutions
  12. Mission of China to the EUChina: Work Together for a Better Globalisation

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us