PAC President Frank J. Spula Calls for
President Obama to Repair U.S. Relations with Poland

Chicago, September 19, 2009. Polish Americans are increasingly dismayed with the direction and tenor of the Obama Administrationís policy toward Poland, a country which the White House calls a "close, strategic and steadfast ally." The Administrationís actions and inactions, inattention and insensitivity are undermining Poland's confidence in the United States and damaging U.S. interests in the region. It is imperative that President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton order an immediate review of all aspects of U.S. policy toward Poland with the aim at repairing and strengthening the bilateral relationship. I am requesting an opportunity to meet with President Obama and Secretary Clinton to voice the Polish American communityís concerns and to offer our suggestions for improvement.

United States policy toward Poland is of fundamental interest to the Polish American Congress and will be the focus of the Council of National Directors' semi-annual meeting on October 17 in Chicago. U.S.-Polish relations also will be an important topic at the National Conference, The Polish American Community in the 21st Century, being sponsored by the Polish American Congress in Chicago, Illinois, October 15 and 16. The Administration is invited to send representatives to participate in those discussions.

The President's announcement that he has decided to abandon the bilateral agreement for placement of U.S. interceptor missiles in Poland, initiated at U.S. request, introduces uncertainty and doubt about U.S. intentions and reliability. These missiles were intended for the defense of the United States and Europe, not defense of Poland alone. Additional provisions contained in the Declaration on U.S.-Poland Strategic Cooperation adopted in August, 2008, were aimed at strengthening Polandís capability as a NATO ally. It is essential that these latter provisions be carried out and that defense cooperation with this most willing of allies be strengthened.

The Administration's announcement of this policy change on September 17, the 70th anniversary of the Soviet invasion of Poland while it was fighting Hitlerís onslaught, was painful reminder and a public diplomacy fiasco.

Just two weeks earlier, the United States was missing in action as heads of government, including German Chancellor Merkel and Russian Prime Minister Putin, gathered in Gdansk to mark the 70th anniversary of the start of WWII. The Administration failed to send the Vice President and only at the last minute dispatched National Security Advisor Jones to head the U.S. delegation. All of this points to an insensitivity and inattention that is injurious to U.S. interests.

The Presidentís effort to reset relations with Russia, deprive Al Qaeda sanctuary in Afghanistan, and expand dialogue with troublesome countries around the world will require the strong support of Americaís friends and allies such as Poland.

The U.S. failure to include Poland in the ranks of countries eligible for the Visa Waiver Program and the lack of effort by the Obama Administration to do so continues to be a major bilateral irritant and suppresses the free flow to the United States of the Polish citizens, academics, students, artists and tourists whose understanding and support we seek for American policies.

As Polish Americans, we have been proud of the contributions Poland and Polish citizens have made to supporting U.S. security over the years. One needs only to recall the critical intelligence provided by Polandís military, Polandís assistance to U.S. hostages and intelligence in Iraq, its early and strong contribution of combat troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, not to mention that it was Polandís Solidarity movement that began the roll-back of communism in Europe. In these and many other ways Poland has demonstrated that it is indeed a friend and trusted ally.

The Polish American Congress and the over 10 million strong Polish American community call on President Obama and his administration to:

  1. appoint to its top policy-making inner circles an expert knowledgeable and experienced in U.S.-Polish affairs;
  2. rapidly conduct a review of U.S. policy toward Poland with the aim of correcting and strengthening relations;
  3. reliably execute non-interceptor provisions of bilateral defense agreements;
  4. inform and consult closely with Polish officials concerning U.S. negotiations with Russia;
  5. bring Poland quickly into the Visa Waiver Program.

The Polish American Congress believes that close and vibrant relations with Poland are in the interests of the United States and stands ready to advise and facilitate making this happen.

Contact information:
PAC Washington Office

Dr. Susanne S. Lotarski
Vice President for Public Relations

Dr. Barbara B. Andersen
Director for Legislative Affairs and Research

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