Interview: Wojciech Multan On Poland's Place

WOJCIECH MULTAN is a senior researcher at the Polish Institute of International Affairs in Warsaw. He spoke recently with independent writer Mark Sommer.

Now that the Warsaw Pact is disintegrating, do you see the development of a new security system to replace both alliances?

It is obvious that the security system formed after the Second World War doesn't fit the needs of the present situation. There's a proliferation of ideas now about what a new European security system should look like. It seems to me that the change should first of all be gradual, rather slow, a kind of evolution. The main force that speeds up the process is the consequences of German reunification. There is a race between the very rapid unification of Germany and the very gradual economic and political integration of Europe as a whole.

I see the [Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe] as a great helping hand in this integration because it touches on all aspects of life on the continent. I can imagine the creation of an international arms-control-verification institution within the CSCE which will establish the basis for real confidence on all sides. Poles will not be afraid of Germans because on the soil of Germany there will be international teams inspecting what, how many, and where the Germans have [their armaments]. And vice versa. Germans need not be afraid that Russians and Poles might hide weapons and forces that could jeopardize their security. I'm rather an optimist in that respect. I see an evolution from the bipolar alliance system to an all-European security system.

I could also imagine an all-European commission whose main aim would be to prevent surprise attack or the eruption of organic conflicts - a kind of fire squadron with regular access to information from the militaries of both East and West. Simultaneously there would be an integration of the economies of all of Europe and concurrent political consultations. And here the framework of the CSCE will be very much apropos, because it has already proven itself an efficient instrument since it began in the 1970s. There is no need to proliferate new organizations or structures. Let's use what we already have, broaden their competence and adapt them to these new roles.

But much will depend on events in the Soviet Union. If this process develops too rapidly, we will be on the brink where something very unpleasant could happen. Let's imagine that tomorrow something unpleasant happens there and they return to a conservative policy. For Hungarians it means practically nothing. ``We will develop in our own way,'' they say. But in this country there is a dominant opinion that in the case of negative events in the Soviet Union, it will have a negative impact on Poland, too. One cannot imagine a situation in which Poland will remain in splendid isolation. This is wishful thinking.

How do Poles view German reunification?

There are fears, not only among people of the establishment but among people on the street, about the effects of German reunification. What will be the consequences for Poles? There are fears that a big German state might after some time demonstrate an inclination to play a dominating role in Europe, using economic instruments. There are big expectations that, yes, Poland will join Europe, that we will live like Western Europeans. But on the other hand there are some fears that, oh yes, it will be fine for the next few years, but what will happen in 15 or 20 years if there is a giant close to our border? What will be the place of Poland? Should it be a supplementary state to this giant, a cheap labor market, a basket for toxic wastes?

These are the fears expressed here. This is a feeling most of all for Poles but to a lesser degree for other Eastern Europeans as well. It is under the surface, but it is there. These countries will have to rely on themselves. And to what degree will they have to rely on their own armed forces?

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