The past week and a half have allowed Polish citizens and government officials to mourn the loss of their President and 96 other officials (18 of those legislative officials) who perished in a plane crash on April 10, 2010. Citizens around the globe will remember certain policies that President Lech Kaczynski implemented throughout his presidency.
Investigations have begun to confirm that the crash occurred due to human error. On final approach into a western Russia city, dense fog and adverse weather conditions contributed to a systematic pilot error, which resulted in the crash.
The devastation caused by the crash remains immeasurable. On one hand, military officials charged with safe transportation of the Presidential convoy did not fulfill its duties. On a more comparable note, imagine if President Obama, Michelle Obama, top executive advisors and 18 top congressional representatives all perished in an Air Force One crash. The expansiveness of this tragedy is incomprehensible.
Needless to say, the effect of this disaster will have immediate effects on both Polish politics and international geopolitical relations. In order to maintain clarity, let us first examine national politics and then integrate international politics.
President Kaczynski took office in 2005. Throughout his presidency, Kaczynski experienced declining popularity. Certainly tough economic conditions prompted lower approval ratings. Still, there were other factors that suppressed his popularity.
According to the New York Times, Kaczynski’s policies began to polarize voters towards the right-end of the political spectrum.
Many of his policies derived highly nationalistic ideals that promoted Polish-state prosperity. While this promotion seems honorable enough, it oftentimes forced voters to decide between nationalistic- and international-based policies.
Before the tragic airplane crash, the Polish ruling party nominated an aristocrat for president in opposition to Kaczynski. His main platform was never definitively declared. However, the opposition party’s ideology constitutes a center-right political representation, according to the Wall Street Journal.
This tradeoff began to occur in lieu of increasingly dominating global politics, where national and international objectives oftentimes become intertwined. Continued promotion of Polish politics has continually altered the Eastern European geopolitical landscape.
Kaczynski harnessed and supported the core values of NATO in his political agendas. Incorporation of NATO into the Polish political spectrum has been largely attributed to Kaczynski and his administration.
According to the New York Times, Kaczynski not only integrated Poland into an adamant NATO ally, but he also promoted and succeeded in incorporating Ukraine and Georgia into NATO. Despite his ongoing friction against the EU, he still promoted the expansion of NATO. These bold and decisive actions assisted in the incorporation of Eastern Europe onto the international political stage.
There are certain values that accompany NATO membership, including “freedom, democracy, [and] solidarity,” according to NATO Source. These fundamental values have helped Georgia, Ukraine and Poland alike transform from post-Soviet states into advancing industrialized democracies.
Kaczynski’s achievements will not be forgotten. He played a pivotal role in promoting NATO throughout Eastern Europe, which has helped accelerate modern development in post-Soviet states. A tragedy has undoubtedly occurred with the death of such a large number of executive officials. The international community will certainly be focused on future political developments in Poland, including the policies of the incoming president.