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Old Europe vs. New Europe: Will Poland Split EU Over Russia Policy? - International - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News

No European leader has been more outspoken in his criticism of Russia's actions in Georgia than Poland's Lech Kaczynski. Are his provocative words a sure way to marginalize Poland -- or a sign of a larger split in the European Union?

 Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili, right, and Polish President Lech Kaczynski at a joint news conference in Tbilisi, Georgia on Wednesday. The sight gave hope to Georgians and credibility to their embattled president, Mikhail Saakashvili. On Tuesday, five heads of state from nations once controlled by the Soviet Union -- Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Ukraine and Poland -- arrived at a rally in Tbilisi to rebuke Russia for its invasion of the Central Asian country.

For French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who was engaged in frantic shuttle diplomacy between Moscow and Tbilisi to bring an end to the conflict, Tuesday's visit was badly timed. More than anything, it highlighted deep divisions within the European Union over how to deal with Russia. Since the EU expanded into Central Europe and parts of the former Soviet Union in 2004, Poland and the Baltic states have pushed the EU to take a stronger stance against Russia -- to the dismay of many diplomats in what some call "Old Europe."

Speaking to a crowd of Saakashvili's supporters in the Georgian capital, Polish President Lech Kaczynski, who organized the trip, was typically outspoken in his criticism of Poland's neighbor and one-time occupier. "You could say that the nation of Russia yet again showed its true face here today," Kaczynski said. "The aggression here is nothing new when it comes to history."

by Fran on Thu Aug 14th, 2008 at 03:13:18 PM EST
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