Poland Table of Contents
Poland was a founding member of the United Nations (UN) and takes an active role in numerous UN agencies, including the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization; the World Health Organization; the United Nations Children's Emergency Fund; the Food and Agriculture Organization; the United Nations Industrial Development Organization; and the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development. In the postcommunist era, Warsaw has consistently supported Western-led UN initiatives such as Operation Desert Storm and the condemnation of Serbian policies toward other republics of the former Yugoslavia. In 1992 Poland belonged to roughly 1,500 international governmental and private organizations.
After the change of government in mid-1989, Poland assigned the highest priority to obtaining full membership status in NATO and the EC as soon as possible. The West supported the concept of Poland's integration into Europe; however, only associate status in the EC and NATO had been achieved as of mid-1992. Meanwhile, in 1990 Warsaw had gained associate status in the Council of Europe, an organization including all West European nations and devoted to promoting democracy and the economic health of its members. The council granted Poland full membership after the free parliamentary elections in the autumn of 1991. In November 1991, the EC approved ten-year associate status for Poland, Hungary, and the Czech and Slovak Federative Republic (see Southern Neighbors and the Visegrád Triangle, this ch.). The agreement provided certain trade concessions and generally was viewed as a first step toward eventual full membership. Long and spirited debate preceded the Sejm's ratification of membership in mid-1992. Political factions voiced various objections to the terms of the agreement. One minister expressed reservations about the excessive length of the ten-year adjustment period for Poland to reach the general economic development level of EC members. Nationalist elements, including the KPN considered the agreement a threat to Polish sovereignty (see Political Parties , this ch.).
Poland also had serious disagreements with the IMF, which suspended credits in 1991 because Warsaw had failed to control its budget deficit. In March 1992, however, the IMF expressed general support for the Polish economic program. By terms of a subsequent agreement with the IMF, Poland came back into compliance with IMF deficit guidelines in exchange for access to US$1.5 billion in IMF loans.
Like its partners in the Visegrád Triangle, Poland remained frustrated in 1992 because the West was responding slowly to its attempts to obtain full membership in European international organizations. Nevertheless, Poland continued its full support of NATO and the European security role of the CSCE and left little doubt in mid-1992 of its long-term strategic goal, "to rejoin Europe."
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Because of the ongoing transformation of Poland's system of governance, current political analyses and reports are an important source of information. The most useful of these are the RFE/RL Research Report and the Foreign Broadcast Information Service's Daily Report: East Europe. Arthur R. Rachwald's excellent summaries of Polish matters in the Yearbook on International Communist Affairs chronicle political events from the imposition of martial law in 1981 through the elections of 1991. Informator Polska '91, available only in Polish, is the best source on government structure at all levels after 1989. The communist government system of the 1980s is summarized in Communist Regimes in Eastern Europe by Richard Staar. Jane Leftwich Curry's Poland's Journalists: Professionalism and Politics is among useful sources on censorship and the print media. Among many discussions of Poland's foreign policy, those meriting special attention are "Poland and the Soviet Union" by Roger E. Kanet and Brian V. Souders; The Bloc That Failed: Soviet East European Relations in Transition by Charles Gati; "From Visegrád to Kraków: Cooperation, Competition, and Coexistence in Central Europe" by Rudolf L. Tokes, and "Polish-Lithuanian Relations: Past, Present, and Future" by Stephen R. Burant. (For further information and complete citations, see Bibliography.)
Data as of October 1992
Poland Table of Contents