EUOBSERVER / BRUSSELS - The Polish President has said he wants to hold a four-way summit with France, Germany and Russia during the Polish EU presidency as part of a Polish-model 'ostpolitik' for the union.
Speaking to press after meeting France's Nicolas Sarkozy and Germany's Angela Merkel at the Wilanow Palace outside Warsaw on Monday (7 February), Polish President Bronislaw Komorowsky said it would be "appropriate and expected" if Russia's Dmitry Medvedev came to a similar event during Poland's EU chairmanship in the second half of 2011.
In an op-ed published in Polish press the same day, he said the move could encourage Russia to make changes. "It's worthwhile to support Russia's ambition to modernise [its economy], while making clear that success depends on the wholesale nature of the changes there," he said, referring to the EU-Russia Partnership for Modernisation, a plan to export state-of-the-art EU technology in return for reforms on human rights and the rule of law.
The Russia rapprochement is part of Poland's broader plan to pull post-Soviet countries closer to EU standards, with high-level bilateral meetings with Ukraine and Moldova also on the cards for later this year.
For his part, Mr Sarkozy praised Warsaw for leaving behind the russophobe outlook of its previous administration. "President Komorowski's approach is intelligent and brave. Any actions which help people to understand that the Cold War is over will be positively received," he said.
The Russia move is "brave" in political terms because it gives ammunition to Poland's opposition Law and Justice party in the run-up to elections in October.
"It looks like France, Germany and Russia make deals among themselves and Poland is now being allowed in to the group. This forum [the France-Germany-Poland summit] doesn't serve to create joint policies, but to inform Poland about previosuly-taken decisions," Law and Justice MP Karol Karski told the right-leaning Rzeczpospolita daily.
Monday's meeting also firmed up plans to create a Franco-German-Polish military "battlegroup" by 2014 to be deployed in EU crisis-management missions.
But France and Germany said they will press ahead with tighter co-operation among eurozone countries despite Poland's earlier warning that this would create a "two-speed" EU.
"We told President Komorowski that since the 17 states in the euro zone have a common currency, it's normal they should meet to discuss matters related to that currency," Mr Sarkozy said on plans to hold eurozone-exclusive summits. "Eurozone countries can meet separately to discuss matters relating to the euro," Ms Merkel said.
The two leaders added that Poland could already join their 'Pact for Competitiveness' - a blueprint for joint budgetary planning among the group-of-17 - even though it is unlikely to adopt the euro until 2015.
But Mr Sarkozy warned that Polish hopes to keep EU "cohesion" money flowing to poor regions in eastern Europe are out of step with the times. "Everybody must understand there's a need to reduce deficits of individual countries, so we cannot have a different approach to the EU budget than to national budgets," he said.
France, Germany and Poland first began to meet in what became known as the "Weimar Triangle" format in 1991 to help prepare the former Communist country to join Nato. The Wilanow event was the first one since 2008 however, when the late Polish president Lech Kaczynski abruptly cancelled a summit because German magazine Die Tageszeitung called him a "potato."