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EU Unlikely To Find Common Stance Over Russia

President Kaczynski (left) and Prime Minister Tusk have not always seen eye-to-eye.

President Kaczynski (left) and Prime Minister Tusk have not always seen eye-to-eye.

France, the current president of the European Union, has called a special summit of European leaders for September 1 to discuss what to do about Georgia. The main subject will be the future of relations between the EU and Russia.

In the run-up to the summit, RFE/RL correspondent Valentinas Mite speaks with Eugeniusz Smolar, chairman of the Warsaw-based Center for International Relations, about how Poland views the crisis.

RFE/RL: What is the position of Poland toward the Russian-Georgian crisis?

Eugeniusz Smolar: Public opinion and the government are very critical about what has happened in Georgia in terms of Russian military intervention and continuing occupation of the Georgian territory. There is a certain difference between President Lech Kaczinski and the government. Mr. Lech Kaczinski [representing] the romantic tradition of the struggle for the freedom -- "ours and yours" -- is ready intervene in a much more radical way, especially in words than is the government [of Donald Tusk]. The government stresses the necessity to act through and within the European Union and NATO.

RFE/RL: However, the Polish position in many aspects is different from what is sometimes called the countries of "Old Europe." Let's say it strongly differs from the Italian stance. Which countries are Polish allies?

Smolar: We will see during Monday's [September 1] meeting who are Poland's allies. I believe that the Russian activity in Georgia creates a much more radical and critical common front among the member states of the European Union because the continuous occupation of the Georgian territory and the efforts to change the legality of the elected government and president in Georgia are totally unacceptable also to President [Nicolas] Sarkozy of France, who now holds the Presidency in the European Union. The tendency is to find a common position and this common position will be highly critical of the Russian activity.

RFE/RL: Do you think there will be a clash between the countries which have a more cautious position toward Russia, and stronger opponents of the Russian policy in Georgia, such as Poland and the Baltic states?

Smolar: Oh, I have no doubt that there will be a very dynamic and critical discussion. On one hand [there will be] the countries like Poland and the Baltic states. I have no doubt they will try to persuade so-called "old" member states, especially those who are more sympathetic to [the] Russians, that the position needs openly to be much more critical. Some of them might talk even in terms of sanctions like the president of Lithuania. And the other countries will be criticizing Poland and the Baltic states for taking the position, which is totally unrealistic.

RFE/RL: And could this lead to a crisis in the EU itself?

Smolar: No, it will not create any crisis. It will create some disillusionment. It will create a feeling that we have a difficulty in agreeing on the most important issue of the day. And we will wait to see what the countries which have real influence on Moscow can achieve. And here I talk about the United States, first of all. [It is very important] in the context of NATO. There will be also the meeting of NATO soon and Germany and France [which will decide a lot. too]. Moscow, as you know, does not pay much attention to what Lithuania or even Poland says. The real influence on what Moscow does is in Berlin, in Paris and in Washington.