SERVICES DEEPLY RESET
Wiesława Lewandowska talks with Piotr Bączek about consequences of warming Polish-Russian relations in the safety sphere
WIESŁAWA LEWANDOWSKA: – Events in Ukraine pushed away the issue of the Smoleńsk catastrophe aside, although one could notice that only now does it gain a full consideration, because the appearing Russian aggression is throwing a light at least onto psychological-political aspect of the ‘Smolensk problem’.
PIOTR BĄCZEK: – The novelty is mainly the fact that the whole world, the Polish society, especially elites governing Poland, have finally got convinced what aiming of Kremlin is, how ruthless methods and tools they are prone to use in order to achieve their imperial aims. This is new information for the government of Donald Tusk, that the regime of Wladimir Putin does not withdraw from using force and violence towards another country.
– It is not so much new, but a suddenly discovered information which has not been accepted in the recent times.
– However, not everybody were blind and deaf. The governments of Jarosław Kaczyński and president Lech Kaczyński often spoke about it, they warned. It is worth reminding this famous speech of president Kaczynski in Georgia in 2008, in which he outlined this scenario being fulfilled today: ‘now Georgia, later Ukraine next the Balkan countries and later maybe even Poland…Both the government of the Civic Platform and the administration of president Komorowski oddly believed in friendship and clear intentions of Kremlin, in a possibility of diplomatic talks, wonderful impact of cultural exchange… These illusions disappeared only after the annexation of Kremlin by Russia.
– Why is the so-called reset of the Polish eastern policy subjected to the analysis in the last ‘Smolensk report’?
– Just for this reason, in order to highlight all conditions and the policy of the government of Tusk to 10 April 2010 and consequences of that tragedy. The reset with Moscow started after the elections were won by the Civic Platform in 2007. It was announced by the prime minister Tusk in the first expose – it was clearly a departure from realistic course of the government of Jarosław Kaczynski. Moreover, a new group started analyzing the contract with the Americans about the anti-rocket shield in such an exaggerated and detailed way that it was not possible to finalize it effectively during the term of presidential office of George W. Bush, well-understanding the situation of Central Europe, and president Barack Obama postponed it ad acta within his reset of relations with Russia.
– Do you suggest that this Polish slowness decided about the course of events in our region?
– I only say that beside the expectation of the Democrats in the USA to win and changes in the American foreign policy, it was necessary to hurry up with realizing this contract. Especially that the EU countries – mainly Germany – had a very skeptical attitude to the cooperation of Poland with the United States. The Cabinet of the Civic Platform turned out to be oddly trustworthy, as it appears today, completely without any sense of the Polish raison d’etat. Together with the EU countries and America of president Obama, it started warm relations with Russia. The only centre, which at that time had a realistic attitude towards this concept of the union-American-Polish reset of relations with Russia was the group of president Lech Kaczyński.
– Was it an irritating obstacle?
– Undoubtedly it was for the government of the Civic Platform. Hence there was this aiming at limiting impacts of president Kaczynski in the diplomatic sphere, which was proved, among the others, in organizational impediments of his participation in the ceremonies of Katyń. We should not have any illusions that this fight with the Civic Platform with the president – you refuse him an airplane, aiming at decreasing the president’s competences – was being observed abroad, and later it was politically pursued at the disadvantage of the Poles. It is a shame to say but it was Poland from where the campaign slandering initiatives of the president Kaczynski in the international arena came. For example, there were a lot of malignant comments on his journey to Georgia, which prevented from the escalation of the conflict in that region, and which was later evilly used as an ‘excuse’ for the Smolensk catastrophe and desperation with taking risk of the very President. Both Russian and some EU countries were willingly using this duality of the Polish policy, always aimed against the independent president Kaczynski.
– And his too explicitly disapproving attitude towards Russia was perceived negatively?
– Therefore, we cannot even say that the government of Tusk in the choir with Russia was fighting the president Kaczynski with all possible ways. In December 2009 the presidential minister Mariusz Handzlik, after his talks with the ambassador Władimir Grinin, addressed a warning to the government that Russia in 2010 could pursue a diplomatic game in order to cause an inner conflict among the Polish authorities. The warning was, certainly, ignored although this scenario was effective.
– How particularly?
– When the President informed the government that he was going for the ceremonies in Katyń, immediately the prime minister Putin invited the prime minister Tusk. The Polish government willingly agreed to the Russian scenario. There appeared suggestions about a different date of the presidential visit in Katyń….There were a lot of discouraging and impeding actions, details were presented in 2011 in the ‘White Book’. All these actions and omissions led to a situation that the visit of the Polish president in Katyń was very badly prepared and very badly secured.
– First of all, the Polish services were functioning in a wrong way. You also write in the report about an odd ‘reset of the Polish special services’. What was it based on?
– On warming Polish-Russian relations in the safety sphere.
– A friendly cooperation of ‘brotherly’ services?
– Yes, but only unilateral…. Because when the spying activity of two employers of the Russian military Attache Office was proved, they were not exiled from Poland, but their evacuation to Russia was secretly agreed, not to cause a scandal or destroy diplomatic relations. Polish services had to sit quietly, like a cat without claws which cannot catch prowling mice. At that time, there were attempts to make a particular military cooperation – for example, the exchange of staff. The Smolensk catastrophe slightly destroyed this idyllic scenario although it was being continued and which is proven by the decision of Putin from 2013 concerning the cooperation of the Federal Safety Service with the Polish military counterintelligence. Surely, this cooperation was effective mainly for the Russian party which did not even hide it.
– What benefits was the Polish party to have?
– One can only compare potentials of Poland and Russia, in order to get rid of all illusions. On the one hand powerful experienced staff of roots reaching to KGB (Committee for State Security) with powerful archives and finances, and, on the others hand – small and young service of the Polish military counterintelligence….It can be said that within the diplomatic reset proclaimed by the government, the Polish services were made available by the Russian services. Let’s add that all this is happening during the preparation of ceremonies in Katyń, and also later, just after the catastrophe…
– Do you think that if the Polish services had been less reset, less careless at that time, the situation might not have happened?
– I think so. It is very probable that if the services had been more effective and directed in a better way, the catastrophe might not have happened – the services could have strengthened the protection of the President on his way to Smolensk. We should remember that the government of the Civic Platform liquidate the post of the coordinator for special services, and the prime minister was a supervising person. So, the prime minister Tusk gave the character to the special services.
– Whereas later the prime minister was complaining about the lack of suitable information from the services….
– This is what the decision through chaos looks like, in which it is always difficult to find culprits and those who are responsible. It is a very convenient situation for the governing political group. Moreover, there is no person in the governing group, who could be a threat to the governing people with his much knowledge (and such a professional knowledge could be shown by a coordinator for special services). So, also new special services were unfortunately reset., whose tedious restoration was undertaken in 2006. It must be said that it was quite a deep reset destroying Poland…
– In the latest ‘Smolensk Report’ you devote much attention to the mysterious person of the ‘man of services’ Tomasz Turowski. Why?
– Because he was one of the most important organizers of the visit of the prime minister and president in Katyń. He returned to work in the Foreign Ministry in February 2010 and immediately he flew to Moscow in order to organize visits in Katyń there. And, besides that, just his history perfectly illustrates the state of today’s special services of Poland. In 2001 Turowski became an ambassador of Poland in Cuba, before that he had worked in the Embassy of the Third Polish Republic in Moscow, and much before….he was a longtime functionary of the communist intelligence in Vatican, he controlled the surroundings of John Paul II. In 2010, before the Smolensk catastrophe, the services had surely already known that early past of Mr. Turowski. So, were his new tasks a sign of the reset of the services pursued by the government?
– It was just Tomasz Turowski, who, after the Smolensk catastrophe, strengthened the diplomatic reset of the Polish-Russian relations, expressing his hope on the Russian radio that new Polish-Russian relations would result from the blood of victims…
– This thought was picked up by the government, expressing its hope for warming relations with Russia. In my opinion, engagement of such an ambiguous person in pursuing important foreign issues was very odd…Undoubtedly, he was implementing the scenario outlined by the government of Donald Tusk. So, it can be said that at that time it was a suitable man in the suitable place. And, surely, he was not functioning on his own. There is a question, what tasks the Foreign Ministry gave to him on a constant basis.
– Can one hope today, when the reset and warming the Polish-Russian relations turned out to be an effort in vain, if not a political naivety, that explanation of the causes of the Smolensk catastrophe will take on a different pace and meaning?
– Regardless of these new circumstances, unfortunately, there is still a large blockage of propaganda in many mass media, which cuts all discussions on the causes of this catastrophe. Every discussion concerning, for example, the catastrophic organization of the visit is blocked, as well as a discussion on proceeding of Russia towards Poland before and after 10 April. The deep explanation of the causes of the catastrophe will always be blocked by the current governing group, because it was the group which let itself commit shameful omissions in this issue. Just for the sake of the utopian naïve reset of relations with Russia.