Thursday, February 02, 2006

President Putin says that Russia ‘highly respects Poland’...

…and manages to keep a straight face.

The president of Russia has used the Katowice tragedy as an oppotunity to calm down what have been rather fractious relations between Poland and Russia recently. After offering Poles condolences for the loss of life, he said at a press conference Tuesday:

"The Poles and the Russians are in fact one family. We have common roots. We never forget about it and have high respect for Poland for its contribution to world culture, economy and the present day affairs of Europe and the world.

There were many problems in our relations, a usual thing in relations between close relatives. I will not name all of these problems to avoid drowning in mutual charges, starting from the seizure of the Kremlin [by the Polish forces in early 17th century].

I will say absolutely openly and sincerely: there are sentiments in both the Polish and Russian societies that I would describe as 'mutual distrust'. Politicians in both countries are aware of this but rather than look into the future and build future-oriented relations for the benefit of their citizens, they resort to problems of the past and do it for their particular domestic reasons,"

So Poland and Russia have had stormy diplomatic relations because they are like sister and brother, husband and wife, and have been throwing their best crockery at each other because they love each other so much.

How sweet.

But it doesn’t really address the issues that have caused all the arguments in the first place. I’m thinking of Russia’s refusal to come to terms with their role in the Katyn Massacre, the inability to see that people do not have such fond memories of the Soviet period as Putin seems to (he did have a nice and cushy job in the KGB, after all) the Gazprom pipeline that will bypass Poland, and much else besides.

If Polish-Russian relations were simply like a marriage, then Poles would have issued divorce proceedings quite some time ago.


Becca said...

The best bit of that quote is 'I will not name all of these problems to avoid drowning in mutual charges, starting from the seizure of the Kremlin.'

In other words, I don't want to name names but Poland started it...

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