Members of the Polish American Congress welcomed Mitt Romney’s supportive mentions of Poland during the third presidential debate this week, saying their country should take diplomatic advantage of the moment, the Nowy Dziennik reported. The story was translated from Polish.
Thanks to Republican candidate Mitt Romney, Poland — next to Israel, Iran, Afghanistan and China — became one of the themes of the third presidential debate. According to experts and representatives from the Polish American Congress (PAC), an umbrella group representing hundreds of organizations, Poland should take advantage of the opportunity.
Criticizing Barack Obama’s foreign policy, Romney accused the president of making mistakes in relation with U.S. allies, such as Israel and Poland.
The Republican candidate reproached Obama for abandoning the anti-missile shield program, whose elements were supposed to be installed in Poland.
“I think also that pulling our missile defense program out of Poland in the way we did was also unfortunate in terms of, if you will, disrupting the relationship in some ways that existed between us,” Romney said, and accused Obama of igniting tension between the U.S. and Israel. “We have to also stand by our allies.”
Obama assured that as long as he was president Israel could count on America’s full support, in case of an attack. He did not make any concrete promises for Poland.
According to political scientist Grzegorz Kostrzewa-Zorbas, the fact that Poland was mentioned in the debate, next to Israel, as one of the most important allies of the U.S., is incredible. In his opinion, this fact should be used by Polish diplomats in the U.S. as an argument to further negotiations in a variety of other issues.
Andrzej Kunicki, professor of international relations, points out to the rising importance of Poland in the context of presidential elections. In his opinion, Romney talks so often about Poland because he realizes that the Polish vote in the U.S. may tip the scale towards his advantage in the upcoming elections.
“It is not so unusual that Poland was mentioned in the last presidential debate,” says Andrzej Burghardt from the Polish American Congress, New Jersey division, and a candidate for vice-president for Polish issues at the national PAC.
“Poland is very important in the region, where it plays a crucial political role. It participates in the so called Eastern Partnership, a European Union initiative started by the late president Lech Kaczynski. Also because of its geographical location, Poland was an ideal place to install the anti-missile shield — apparently so good that Russia could not help but protest against the program,” says Burghardt.
In his opinion, representatives of the PAC could take advantage of the fact that Poland emerged in the third presidential debate to “dismiss the possible danger deriving from the United States’ support for compensation payouts demanded by the Holocaust industry. These claims are unfounded, and yet gaining ground in circles of the Obama administration, including Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Congressman Christopher Smith.”
“It is very encouraging that a presidential candidate mentioned Poland and Eastern Europe in the debate,” says Frank Milewski, president of the Polish American Congress, Downstate Division. He adds that, moments like this one during the debate give people an opportunity to find out the candidates’ approach to Poland.
“It was not the first time that Mitt Romney let the world know that Poland and Eastern Europe were important spots on the world map. From our point of view, Poland deserves all the attention, even from a European perspective. Guarding the eastern boarder of the European Union, Poland has always been an important geo-political player,” Milewski said, adding that he hoped that “all the nice words that have been spoken about Poland will mean strategic interest in our country, and at the same time acknowledging Poland as a valuable partner in the democratic camp”.