Intermarium and Poland’s Cherished Dreams

Intermarium and Poland’s Cherished Dreams

Poland's opposition Law & Justice Party (LJP) held its congress in Katowice on July 3-6, 2015. Michał Dworczyk, the head of Freedom and Democracy Foundation established to support Poles in former USSR, and former adviser to late President Lech Kaczyński, outlined the guidelines of Poland’s eastern policy. He emphasized the need to reject the policy of “historical amnesia” when Poland turns a blind eye on the Kiev’s heroization of Nazi OUN-UPA (the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists- Ukrainian Insurgent Army) criminals. He also stressed the need to strengthen ties with the countries of so-called Intermarium. The plight of Poles in Lithuania and Belarus will be in focus of the foreign policy efforts under the President-elect Andrzej Duda who won the presidential election as the LJP candidate (he was present at the congress).

Intermarium (Międzymorze - «Intersea» or «Between-seas», was rendered into Latin as «Intermarium») was a plan, pursued after World War I by Polish leader Josef Pilsudski, for a federation under Poland’s aegis of Central and Eastern European countries, including the Baltic states, Finland, Belarus, Ukraine, Hungary, Romania, Yugoslavia and Czechoslovakia. Intermarium was supported by London. 

According to this concept, Warsaw was to create an anti-Russia alliance stretching from the Baltic Sea to the Black Sea. It would have isolated Russia from Europe to ensure the dominant position of Poland. The Poland’s eastern policy in early 1990s boiled down to the implementation of Intermarium doctrine which presupposed an alliance with Ukraine, Belarus and Lithuania – the countries mentioned by Dworczyk at the congress of the party the President-elect belongs to. Poland’s political thinking offered different patterns of relationship with former Soviet republics. One of them was the ULB doctrine (the «ULB doctrine», where «ULB» stands for «Ukraine, Lithuania, Belarus») to create a buffer zone between Poland and Russia.

This idea was predominant among Poles living in the West in the 1960-1970s. Another pattern envisaged the creation of the Fourth Polish Republic (Polish: IV Rzeczpospolita or IV RP) – a transborder ideological, political, cultural and economic common space of Poland, Ukraine, Belarus and Lithuania remembering the Rzeczpospolita of 1926-1939. In 2005 the idea was put forward by Yaroslav Leszczynski, an ethnographer and historian. 

The both ideas – the ULB and the Fourth Rzeczpospolita - are elements of broader concept of Intermarium which in theory pressupposses that an anti-Russia alliance will also include Finland, Latvia, Estonia, Moldavia, Romania, Hungary and Bulgaria besides Ukraine, Belarus and Lithuania. In their geopolitcal dreams Polish strategists saw the furhter continuation of the plan resulting in the implementation of ABC doctrine (the Adriatic Sea - Baltic Sea - Black Sea) or adding the Balkans to the project to provide Poland and its East European allies with access to the Adriatic Sea.

Carried away by Intermarium dreams, Poland sacrificed many times the historic memory and put up with the fact that nationalist anti-Poland regimes were in power in the republics that had a common border with Russia. It leads to splitting of mental functions. Poland supports the Ukrainian nationalist regime (at the congress Dworczyk said it was imperative to add Poland to the Normandy Four format of talks on the Donbass). At the very same time the Law &Justice Party functionaries say they cannot use the historic memory as a bargaining chip like their opponents from the Civic Platform (the party of Bronislaw Komorowsky) do. In reality, there is no significant difference to divide the two parties. The Polish political elite continue to balance between the support for Ukrainian nationalism and the need to respond to the society’s historic claims.

Poland is facing a parliamentary election this autumn. The party of former rock musician Pawel Kukiz, the political novice who scored over 20% at the recent presidential election, may take votes away from the LJP. Kukiz stands for limited support of Kiev regime (yes to bullet–proof jackets, no to automatic rifles). He opposes the idea of OUN-UPA’s exculpation. At the same time Kukiz expresses sympathy for the «Restitution Kressy», a newly established organization created to deal with the return of Polish property in what’s now the Western Ukraine. 

The Law and Justice Party tells voters that fresh wind will blow as soon as Andjei Duda takes office. In reality the chance is slim. Warsaw will do its best to make the activities of Ukrainian nationalists be directed against Russia, not Poland. Such initiatives of European Union as the association agreement with Ukraine or the Eastern Partnership program will be perceived in Poland as reintroduction of Intermarium concept.

Photo: Flickr