Poland’s Foreign Policy Under the Rule of the Law and Justice PartyRyszard Zięba
Poland was the first country in Central Europe to start dismantling the political system of ‘real socialism’ in 1989 and has become a pioneer of democratic and market reforms. After 10 years it was admitted to NATO and after 15 years to the European Union. Then, gradually, populism, nationalism and Euro-skepticism began to grow in Poland, which was evident in the years 2005-2007, during the first edition of rules of the conservative-nationalist Law and Justice (PiS) party. After the next eight years of the pragmatic approach of the Polish governments towards European integration, the PiS assumed full power in the country in 2015. The new president and the PiS government began systematic changes in domestic and foreign policy. Populism, illiberalism and authoritarianism began dominating in Polish internal politics, and nationalism and Euro-skepticism in foreign policy. The most important new phenomena in the foreign policy of the PiS government are: (a) the bi-lateralization and militarization of security policy based on the strategic partnership with the US; (b) Euroskepticism: anti-Brussels posturing and disputes with Germany and France; (c) Poland’s nationalistic and great-power approach to Russia; and (d) Three Seas Initiative as a dream of Poland’s greatness. The consequences of this Poland’s politics are detrimental to itself and to the international environment. It has reduced the importance of Poland as a state in Europe and the world. The world’s perception of Poland is increasingly unfavorable among democratic countries, and more favorable among other illiberal countries. But it is not favorable with all illiberal countries, because the nationalism that accompanies Polish illiberalism makes it impossible to improve relations with other not fully democratic or downright undemocratic countries, especially Poland’s eastern neighbors. Poland’s foreign policy is facing serious challenges, some of which Poland created on its own and is unable to address effectively. This means that there is a growing problem of incompatibility between Poland’s policies and the changing international order.