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Poland Sours on the Euro, Politely

After years of triumphant predictions that their country would join the euro in 2011, the Poles seem to be backing away from the once coveted currency. The year passed by without serious talks about joining the Eurozone, and now the same policymakers who boldly predicted a Polish future within the euro have become more measured and guarded in their statements, reports the Washington Post.

This should hardly come as a surprise to anyone even remotely aware of the current situation in Europe. The debt crisis, massive bailout funds and incessant wrangling over treaty details are hardly enticing advertisements for the common currency. They’re also the last things Poland needs as it rides out a global recovery that is still very shaky. On top of this is the fact that Poland’s national currency, the zloty, has served the country well. Poland’s current 2.5 percent growth rate also puts it at the top of the EU, while most of its eurozone neighbors have gone back into recession. As the Poles look around, they see few reasons for dramatic changes.

Most impressive, however, is the quality of Polish diplomacy in light of its euro pullback:

“The attraction is somewhat less; the risks are somewhat more,” said Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski, who added that he supports joining in the long run. “Today we simply don’t have the votes in Parliament” to make the constitutional changes necessary to switch the currencies.

Rather than deliver a bitter send-off to their European partners (as their Czech neighbors are wont to do), Poland has taken a much smoother line: Of course we’ll join at some point in the indefinite future, but we don’t have the votes right now. Tsk, tsk, tsk.  We certainly hope that changes soon. Our commitment is unchanged, it is just a question of schedule.

You can go very far in Brussels, and indeed in life, with this kind of approach. In principle, we are with you 100 percent. In practice, there are a few details still to be worked out — but don’t worry.  Any decade now we should have it all fixed.

This sort of finesse is a hallmark of good diplomacy. If George W. Bush had taken this kind of approach to issues like the Kyoto Protocol, his presidency would have been a happier one.

So far, Poland appears to be doing the right thing, both in substance and in style.

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  • Kris

    “If George W. Bush had taken this kind of approach to issues like the Kyoto Protocol, his presidency would have been a happier one.”

    Something like: “I am obviously devoted to Mother Gaia, and will do everything in my power to combat this Global Warmening. Unfortunately, it will take me some time to overcome my Senate’s unanimous 95-0 rejection of the Kyoto Protocol, but I assure you that it is a top priority.”

  • Toni

    I’m with Kris. Clinton signed the Kyoto Treaty and then never submitted it to the Senate for a vote! All Bush did was recognize reality. Treaty hadn’t a prayer of passing, so can it.

    But thanks for this discussion of Poland! They’re a strong, capable people with excellent reasons to beware the motives and empty promises of neighboring countries.

  • Ann

    I can’t imagine the Poles are eager to join a monetary system controlled by Germany.

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