The initiator of the investigation of the shooting of Polish officers near Smolensk Sergei Stankevich told what psychological barriers still hinder Russian-Polish trust
5 Dec 2010, 17:13
Text: Andrew Carvers
“It would be good to finally close a longstanding topic of Katyn, which will not leave the political agenda,” – said the newspaper VIEW, Sergei Stankevich, the former adviser to the President in the early 1990s, transferred to the poles of the first archives on Katyn. He was confident that Moscow and Warsaw are interested in strengthening the relationships that will be built on the basis of mutual dependence.
On Friday, Warsaw has received from the Russian authorities a new archive documents on the case of the shooting of Polish officers in Katyn in 1940. This happened on the eve of the official visit of President Dmitry Medvedev to Poland, scheduled for 6-7 Dec. During the talks, the sides reportedly discuss the progress of the investigation of the Smolensk plane crash. In turn, the President of Poland Bronislaw Komorowski noted that, in General, expects by the end of the visit to improve relations between the two countries.
The Chairman of the Board of Directors of Agency on attraction of foreign investments, in 1991-1993 – the adviser to the President on political Affairs, was the initiator of the Katyn investigation in the early 1990-ies. On behalf of Boris Yeltsin Stankevich has transferred to the then Polish President Lech Walesa in 1992, the first part of the archives related to the tragedy of 1940. 1996-1999 Stankevich himself lived in Poland. On the eve of the visit of President Medvedev to Warsaw in an interview to the newspaper VIEW, Sergei Stankevich told at what level are Russian-Polish relations and how they should develop.
OPINION: Mr Ivanov, we know that the Kaczynski brothers won the elections in 2005, largely due to nationalistic slogans. They are actively used xenophobic, including anti-Russian rhetoric. Last summer, Jaroslaw Kaczynski lost to Komorowski by a margin of just 6%. Does this uncertain victory is the fact that in the Polish society remain strong fear of Russia, which are Russophobic statements and actions of many politicians?
Sergei Stankevich: the Polish national consciousness is permeated with history. There is the usual man in the street remembers the historic events of the distant past as if they happened yesterday. The history of Russian-Polish relations is full of dramatic examples. One of them remains Katyn. Therefore, a psychological barrier present in society.
This barrier is used by those politicians who wanted to make political career. In particular, the extreme right. To this effect, the wounded identity, including for the Baltic countries, it is necessary to understand and gradually overcome it. You have to interact with those who are ready to move with us in the same direction, leaving conflicts in the past. If the political elite will not specifically encourage this barrier, he will inevitably leave in the past.
OPINION: After the tragic death of his brother last spring, Jaroslaw Kaczynski, at first, recognize the fact that Moscow is cooperating fully with Polish authorities in the investigation of the causes of the plane crash near Smolensk. Why after the election he changed his position and began strongly hinting that it is unclean and the Russians still hide some of the causes of the disaster, and eventually even called the Americans to join the investigation?
S. S.: It’s a political situation. Far-right politicians to maintain a certain degree need the atmosphere of a kind of keyed. They need a new damage factors. In this case, even such an enormous tragedy is also being used to rally their supporters, to mobilize extreme right of the political spectrum. I don’t think this practice will bring any long-term effects.
OPINION: Visit of Vladimir Putin and Donald Tusk in Katyn, the presence of Dmitry Medvedev at the funeral of Lech Kaczynski, the recent statement of the state Duma on Katyn – as this reduced the feeling of resentment in the Polish society? Such symbolic gestures are enough to turn the Katyn page? At least for the active part of the society in middle age?
S. S.: I would not call these gestures are symbolic. It is quite important practical steps. They can only be welcomed. So they meet in the Polish society. As for the symbolic gestures, it’s good to finally close a longstanding topic of Katyn, which will not leave the political agenda.
Very much hope is connected with the visit of Dmitry Medvedev. He consistently strives to close the Katyn case once and for all. In the normalization of Russian-Polish relations is not enough individual as significant steps being taken recently by Russia. Here it is necessary to take an integrated sequence and not to knock those or other psychological attacks like the theme around the crash of the presidential plane.
Too much is at stake. Poland is the largest country of East Central Europe, the most dynamic. She successfully positioned itself as a leader in Central Europe and a rookie of the EU. We need a normal, stable and long-term relationships with this state.
OPINION: Early in Poland, reigned, as is known, a very strong Pro-American sentiment. They were even stronger than in, say, Western Europe. Now how much disappointment with ever since came to power Barack Obama and the United States postponed plans to deploy in Poland missile defense elements?
S. S.: Poland build its relations with the European Union on a heightened sense of national dignity. If other countries agree to almost any conditions, the poles traded and has sought to hold its line in the formulation of the Constitution of the United Europe, positioning itself as an equal partner in dialogue. To strengthen their position, they are strongly reinforced and contacts with the United States.
Part of the Polish elite hoped that a possible strategic Alliance with America. According to this plan, Poland in parallel becomes a partner in an expanding Europe, and America compensates for the support of the Warsaw private actions to stimulate the Polish economy. It didn’t happen. America behaved excessively pragmatic, support is essentially gone. In the end, the project was incomplete. And it’s not about who runs America: Bush or Obama. It is clear that in the US there is no need for this kind of partnership. This line is historically doomed.
OPINION: If the preponderance of forces between liberals and nationalists in Poland so small, is it possible that after the next parliamentary elections will crossed the recently concluded gas deal between Moscow and Warsaw? Against him, as you know, violently protesting supporters of Kaczynski…
S. S.: It would be wrong to call those who voted for Kaczynski, clearly nationalists. There is a strong nationalist wing. But Kaczynski also vote traditionalists. A significant part of the population lives in rural areas and professes Catholicism.
If there is any disturbing, symbolic reason to provoke a conflict between Russia and Poland, waving the bloody shirt, to say that we have not received all Katyn documents, the Christians would prefer a much more relaxed and balanced politicians. Thus, the right-wing coalition, which was created by Kaczynski, fragile and short-lived. I needed to get rid of them, and then Russian-Polish relations will be on normal soil.
VIEW: You at one time worked as the adviser of branch of LUKOIL in Poland and stay up to date on oil and gas subjects. How plausible reports of the discovery in Poland of the huge reserves of shale gas, which every few months sound from Warsaw? The head of Gazprom Alexey Miller in interview to the newspaper OPINION called them just “information noise”. Can Poland in the next 10-15 years to achieve energy independence from Russia? Or after the commissioning of Nord stream and its dependence on Russia will only intensify?
S. S.: Poland is currently one of the largest recipients of Russian gas importer of Russian oil and performs various other functions hydrocarbons. In this sense, it is wrong to call it an addiction. It is a mutual interest, because in the same way as Poland depends on these supplies, just as Russia depends on those supplies to Poland and other European countries.
Shale gas reserves in Poland are confirmed by local studies. Another thing is that to give them real industry value in the coming years will fail. It will require many years and huge investments, the sources of which are not clear for today. It makes sense to invest in the development of these reserves.
On the other hand, a major middle Eastern players, including Qatar, are supplying huge quantities of liquefied natural gas. In the coming years, the reserves of shale gas to change the situation on the market can not, therefore, need to work with the resources that we have. In this sense, the recent agreement with Poland gas agreement – this is definitely a step in the right direction. This new long-term basis for our energy cooperation.