Support for Western Balkan countries

As Poland’s political life was dominated by national elections, these issues did not get any specific reaction in the Polish media. As it concerns the Balkans, the only important event was the meeting of President of the Republic of Poland, Lech Kaczynski, with the Chair of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Željko Komšic, who came on an official visit to Poland on December 17, 2007. According to the press office of the Chancellery of the President, both leaders reviewed the situation of Bosnia and Herzegovina and its circumstances, its structure and its neighbourhood, as well as the overall situation in the Balkans with particular regard to the problem of Kosovo. This meeting happened to be an occasion to present the official standpoint on the situation in Balkans. According to the President: “Poland is of the opinion, that Bosnia and Herzegovina as well as other countries of the region should be given a green light as far as their NATO and EU membership is concerned. The summit of the European Council of March 2007 in a way confirmed this line of thinking not only in our country but also in Europe. Obviously, Bosnia and Herzegovina is very much interested in securing for itself the membership in NATO and in the European Union. (…) And Poland supports Bosnia and Herzegovina in this pursuit. This is not a new attitude but it is worth underscoring. (…). This is part and parcel of Poland’s consistent position which provides that the entry of 10 accession states to the EU, followed by the enlargement upon Bulgaria and Romania cannot put the enlargement process of EU to an end. On the other hand, obviously, the North Atlantic Treaty is a very efficient tool in the area which I had termed a year and a half ago ‘exporting stability’. And there is no better exporter of that kind in the world. Coming now to Bosnia and Herzegovina, as a country with a complex internal structure, and also to other countries in Western Balkans, they do need such an affirmation of stability there. Obviously, they also need growth, economic growth and in this respect Poland should do somewhat better that it is doing now, in particular when it comes to the broadening of the scope of economic cooperation and investments. That being said, also stability is necessary to promote economic growth. Please, bear in mind that Bosnia and Herzegovina as well as other countries of the region have made immense progress in their stability process in recent years. This is noteworthy.”[1]
The Polish government formally recognized Kosovo’s independence on February 26, after an intensive debate, which took place between the chancellery of the Prime Minister and the President’s Office. There was no severe controversy on the recognition itself but on the timing of this decision. President Lech Kaczynski opted for more time for reflection, sharing the view on this issue presented by the main opposition party (Law and Justice). Finally, the President declared, during his press conference of 25th of February 2008, that he would not oppose the decision of the Prime Minister in this respect. The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Radek Sikorski, presented the government’s decision in his press conference on February 26, stating that “Poland’s and other EU countries’ decision should not bring precedence to other separatist tendencies in Europe”[2].
According to the public opinion poles, 56% of citizens support Kosovo’s independence against 23% of opponents (21% declared lack of any clear opinion)[3].

[1] Quotation from President Lech Kaczynski, Press Conference, 17 December 2007.

[2] Radek Sikorski, Press Conference, quotation derived from Gazeta Wyborcza, 27 February 2008

[3] Report of SMG/KRC, see: Report of TVN24, published on-line on 22 February 2008.