Posted: 22.05.2024 11:15:56

Wall of dependence

The Polish authorities are not independent in their decisions, which causes increasing discontent among the local population

By taking a Western position in promoting sanctions policy and pumping Ukraine with weapons, official Warsaw is leading to a serious aggravation of the internal situation. The protests of farmers, the closure of border checkpoints, mass demonstrations, and now the growing number of people fleeing the country, where the case of Polish judge Tomasz Szmydt who has asked for political asylum in Belarus has become the highest-profile one, are all links in a chain. What is our western neighbour going to?

Belarus–Poland border 

                                  The President of Belarus,
                             Aleksandr Lukashenko,

“Warsaw is steadily increasing the number of the Armed Forces. By 2035, it is planned to increase them to 300,000 people while currently they have a little over 190,000. I cannot help but comment on that. Poor Poland actually lacks labour force and has more than enough civil problems to solve. What kind of battles are they dreaming of? Who will provide for them?” 

During the meeting of the 7th Belarusian 
People’s Congress, on April 25th, 2024

Continued tantrum

Polish propaganda has for many years created an illusion that migration can take place only in one direction — to the countries of the collective West — due to the allegedly better living conditions there. The precedent with Polish judge Tomasz Szmydt has called into question the crudely made clichés that have been hammered into the heads of ordinary people for decades. This has clearly been not the first time that Poles have moved to Belarus for political reasons to seek permanent residence. However, their status as ordinary citizens gave Polish propaganda every opportunity to either ignore such cases or declare them marginal. 
The situation with Judge Tomasz Szmydt, in contrast, has illustrated a completely different level of migration to Belarus. He is not an average citizen but a judge at the Voivodeship Administrative Court in Warsaw, whose level corresponds to the city judge of Minsk Region. Szmydt also headed the legal department at the Polish National Judicial Council. Moreover, the local authorities have already admitted that Szmydt, due to his position, had access to secret classified information concerning NATO, the EU, the European Space Agency and even Polish intelligence agencies, in particular the Internal Security Agency.   
The high status of the judge is confirmed by the massive media campaign immediately launched against him. Various versions are being thrown into the media — from the dissident’s allegedly large debts to issues with his mental health. Senior officials have joined in the denigration. Poland’s Foreign Minister Radosław Sikorski has already predicted that the ‘troublemaker’ will follow the fate of Emil Czeczko, a Polish soldier who defected to the Belarusian side over the disagreement with his government’s
Polish judge Tomasz Szmydt has asked for political asylum in Belarus due to persecution in Poland    BELTA
policies in the border refugee crisis that involved abuse and murder of migrants and refugees. Sikorski was joined by Defence Minister, Deputy Prime Minister Władysław Kosiniak-Kamysz. According to him, if the fugitive ‘chooses Belarus’, it may well mean that ‘he has been acting in Poland for years in someone’s interests’.
Unlike Polish propaganda broadcasters, Judge Szmydt has explained the reasons for his departure to Belarus very explicitly, “I had to leave Poland primarily because of the political situation, the pressure that was exerted on me. In two or three months, I might have not been able to leave.” 
It is clear that Polish officials cannot recognise the motive of the fait accompli for political reasons. 

Spy mania on the march

Polish intelligence services were immediately brought in the case of the voivodeship administrative judge. Poland’s Internal Security Agency instantaneously began checking the volume of classified information that Judge Tomasz Szmydt had access to. It also became known that in the summer he was supposed to join the panel composition that deals with issues of refusal to grant access to classified information. Szmydt was expected to make a report on five cases brought against the head of the Internal Security Agency. This means that the trust in the judge on the part of the government system was high. Not only did he have access to classified information, but he also determined the level of access to it for certain officials.  
The fear, confusion and shock of the Polish elites result in paranoid moods. Thus, Prime Minister Donald Tusk even called an unscheduled meeting of the Secret Services Council to discuss the issue of ‘alleged Russian and Belarusian influence in the Polish power apparatus’. 
Against the backdrop of the increased politically motivated flow of migrants from Poland to Belarus, the fence along the Belarus–Poland border built by Warsaw requires a look from a completely different perspective. Isn’t its real goal, contrary to Polish propaganda, to counter migration — just not to Poland but, vice versa, from Poland? Such a statement may be based on the logic of events itself. In contrast to Belarus that has introduced a visa-free regime, the Polish side has closed almost all checkpoints on the border with Belarus, having made the border crossing conditions unbearable at the only remaining checkpoint, artificially reduced the number of cars allowed through with only one purpose — to discourage its citizens from visiting Belarus.

Mass demonstrations

Farmers' protests

Vector of relations

Warsaw’s current policy is not in line with national interests. Thus, the direct losses of entrepreneurs of Podlaskie Voivodeship alone due to the closure of all border crossings with Belarus amounted to €124.5 million in 2023. However, the local authorities are ready to compensate only zł5 million, equivalent to €1 million. This is a calculation of just direct losses, excluding indirect ones. 
A natural question arises — what interests is official Warsaw guided by, making decisions that lead to losses for domestic producers? From the standpoint of rational logic and interests of the state, open borders and good neighbourliness could stimulate not only cross-border trade, tourism, but also transit. Most importantly, Poland would have saved the money that has gone to militarise the border zone today. 
However, the western neighbour has chosen the path of escalation, which leads their own citizens and the region as a whole to a loss. Polish leadership taking decisions to its own detriment makes everyone question the real sovereignty and independence of the country. Tomasz Szmydt, being aware of the nitty-gritty of Polish politics from the inside, has lifted the veil in this regard, “If we talk about Poland’s politics, it is not completely independent. The United States, the United Kingdom, and Germany have a great influence.”
These revelations give an insight into the essence of Polish problems. Local elites are guided not by national, but by the Euro-Atlantic interests of Washington and Brussels. Therefore, Poland acts not as a sovereign and independent state but as an instrument of American and European Union policy towards Belarus and Russia. Consequently, all the downsides of such actions fall on the shoulders of Polish taxpayers while American and European Union corporations reap the cream.
The paradox consists in the fact that a shift in Warsaw’s policy towards Belarus and Russia may occur only when Poland gets its sovereignty back. The real independence of this country can come only after Warsaw has abandoned a single-vector, exclusively Western-oriented policy, and has moved to a multi-vector one — let us say, by the examples of Hungary or Türkiye. However, in order to do this, Warsaw needs to have the political will which it currently lacks.
The symbol of restoration of Poland's independence is already available. Just as the destruction of the Berlin Wall became a sign of German unification, so the demolition of the Polish fence on our borders will mean the restoration of Poland’s sovereignty and its return to a policy of good neighbourliness.
By Piotr Petrovsky, political expert