On March 27, 2017, the Warsaw Institute for Strategic Initiatives held an expert panel Alliances, partnerships, leadership… Poland’s role in the new world order. Honorary guest of the meeting was the head of Geopolitical Futures and founder of Stratfor, George Friedman. The panel was moderated by Dariusz Lasocki, president of Warsaw Institute for Strategic Initiatives and took a form of a roundtable, to which invited were representatives of think tanks, academic centres, public administration institutes and media. George Friedman was accompanied by other Geopolitical Futures experts – Meredith Friedman, Antonia Colibasanu and Jacob Shapiro.
Disucssion’s main goal was to define Poland’s position in the difficult surroundings of evolving Europe. George Friedman expressed his view, that Poland has the potential to become the leading power in Central-Eastern Europe. With its geographical location between Germany and Russia, Poland will have the opportunity to take advantage of the “double 50” rule, which stands for German exports’ value reaching 50% of its GDP and $50 per barrel of oil – a drop in German exports will greatly hit the economy, and, in the long run, will be the cause of Germany’s deterioration. When the price of an oil barrel is at $50, Russian economy, critically dependent on oil and gas export, suffers accordingly.
In that scenario, if Poland can prove its value as a US ally and the leader of a new, member-centered model of European integration, Warsaw will significantly strengthen its position. With a wise and far sighted strategy, Poland will likely emerge as the new regional power. The panellists, moreover, pointed to a few reasons behind recent criticism of the EU, including:
• the inability to reach consensus in key matters of the European politics;
• negligence of the conflict of interest arising from geographical, political and cultural differences;
• a consequent line of bad decisions made at the top of the EU since the 2008 financial crisis.
Furthermore, the panellists pointed to the dependence on Chinese market as one of the weaknesses of the EU’s economic model. It is notably important due to the fact that with no individual strength, the EU will be weak as a whole. Another issue was the negligence of both the social cost of the migrant crisis and EU’s military capabilities, which undermine the trust in solidarity between allies.
The discussion included a commentary on Brexit and the conflict in Ukraine. George Friedman assessed, that Brexit will force member states to rethink their membership in the Union and the benefits for their own citizens. In order to suppress the anti-EU sentiment, the member states will have to firmly indicate the advantages of European Union. Regarding the conflict in Ukraine, panellists stated that Russia is weaker than what the West perceives her to be, which is why, for example, it was unable to crush the Euromaidan-related conflict at the very beginning, and that the status quo is likely to be sustained, as both Russia and the West can treat present-day Ukraine as a buffer state.