By Paul Goble
Since the time of Marshal Józef Piłsudski, Polish foreign policy thinkers have periodically sought the creation of an alliance of states in between Germany and Russia—from Estonia (and perhaps even Finland and Scandinavia) in the north, to Ukraine (and potentially down to the Balkans) in the south—as a way of promoting Poland’s interests and security. But except in times of heightened East-West tension (such as during the August 2008 Russian-Georgian war), Warsaw has had little success in creating what some might call a buffer zone or cordon sanitaire, but which the Poles and their supporters have always labeled the “Intermarium” (“Międzymorze”) or “land between the seas” (for detailed background on this idea, see Marek Jan Chodakiewicz, Intermarium: The Land between the Black and Baltic Seas, Transaction, 2012).
On August 5, one day before his inauguration, Polish president-elect Andrzej Duda said that he would make the creation of such an alliance among the states between the Baltic, Black and Adriatic Seas the centerpiece of his foreign policy efforts. Over time, he suggested, this regional bloc could lead to deeper economic, military and even political integration (Forsal.pl, August 5). Duda then alluded again to this proposal in more generalized terms on his inauguration day (Prezydent.pl, August 6). In doing so, he resuscitated an idea that had been pushed by his predecessor and mentor, the former president Lech Kaczyński, who passionately supported this brainchild of Piłsudski (Natemat.pl, August 5). Kaczyński died in a tragic aircraft accident over western Russia in April 2010—an accident that a small but vocal minority inside Poland remains convinced was caused by Moscow. For its part, Moscow has always been against any type of cooperation among the states of Central-Eastern Europe, viewing it as a kind of wall blocking Russia off from the rest of Europe (Rusjev.net