ABSTRACT

The collapse of the Soviet bloc in 1989-91 naturally led to a complete reorientation of Polish foreign policy. When former dissidents from the anticommunist Solidarity movement took power after 1989, the new government’s foreign policy was based on the (admittedly rather amorphous) symbolic notion of ‘returning to Europe’, underpinned by the idea that Poland had always belonged, spiritually and culturally, to the West.1 This aspiration was one of the leitmotifs of Polish politics after the collapse of communism in 1989. In political terms, it was understood to mean the development of liberal democracy; in economic terms, the emergence of a capitalist market economy; and in terms of international relations, it referred to the reorientation of foreign policy aimed at integrating Poland into Western international political, economic and military structures and organisations. Together with the development of friendly relations with its neighbours, integration with the West, specifically the prospect of EU and NATO membership, seemed a natural consequence of the transition process following the collapse of the previous system and became Poland’s chief foreign policy goal.