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Polish Foreign Minister: Relations With Russia “Could Be Worse”

“We’ve been neighbors with the Russians for longer than you,” says Sikorski.

Czarek Sokolowski / AP

WASHINGTON — Poland’s Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski believes his own country’s reset with Russia is a mixed bag, and a possible template for the success of the Obama Administration’s attempt.

“We launched our reset with Russia before the Obama Administration,” said Sikorski during a roundtable discussion with reporters on Monday. “It works in some areas and doesn’t in others. The point of our reset was we are lifiting our veto on Russia’s getting into OECD, they lifted their politically motivated embargo on the import of our foodstuffs. Well, our foodstuffs are exported on a vast scale to Russia, and Russia’s not in the OECD.”

“On some things we see eye to eye and on others not,” Sikorski said. “Every country, you know, you have the Magnitsky business, the Germans have their German foundations being searched.”

“We’ve been neighbors with the Russians for longer than you. And on that time scale, trust me, it’s our judgment that relations could be much worse,” he said.

Sikorski, a pro-American figure who previously ran for the presidency of Poland and is married to American journalist Anne Appelbaum, is in Washington visiting with Secretary of State John Kerry.

Sikorski avoided direct answers about the situation in Syria, where Poland represented US diplomatic interests for several months until July 2012.

“Syria is a very difficult case because Assad has some genuine support and it is a civil war,” he said. “We don’t have consensus on it in Europe. The last Foreign Affairs Council, we lifted sanctions only because we couldn’t agree on the regime that would create a more flexible legal framework.”

“I don’t think anybody has the magic solution to Syria,” Sikorski said.

“In Europe the last American tanks were withdrawn a couple of months ago. And the first for NATO military exercises in Poland will be happening this year after 14 years of our membership. We can help you the more in out of area expeditions in proportion to how secure we feel at home,” he said.

But Sikorski acknowledged that Poland has a geographic interest in one aspect of the Syria conflict.

“We don’t expect anything bad in the future but it’s stil the case that 250 kilometers of flat land away from Warsaw you have the border of Belarus,” he said. “Which is already deploying the S-300s that are heading for Syria.”

“The big picture sense is that if our Western allies get consumed by another war in the Middle East that we can’t afford, then something bad will happen in our neighborhood because of distractions in the Middle East,” he said.

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Rosie Gray is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Washington, D.C. Gray reports on politics and foreign policy.
Contact Rosie Gray at rosie@buzzfeed.com
 
 
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