Everyone tried to anticipate what issues President Biden would raise in his speech to the international community. Such an opportunity to hear the most important theses of American foreign policy took place during a speech at the Munich Security Conference. The whole world heard Biden's "America is back, the transatlantic partnership is back." But many analysts emphasize that Atlantic relations do not seem as optimistic as Boris Johnson suggests, spreading an unbridled optimism that is not always clearly justified in his speech. Johnson flattered the US that it had returned as the undisputed world leader.
Chancellor Angela Merkel pointed out in her speech that working out a common EU-US position on China is more complicated than on Russia. She called China a "systemic competitor" rather than a rival, and stressed that the country was needed to solve "global problems". Here the contradiction was already palpable, and none of the present heads of states referred to these theses directly. Chancellor Merkel gave a speech in which she ignored all the contradictions of German foreign policy — the Chancellor, who criticizes Russia but sticks to the controversial project of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, and avoids picking a very clear course among the US, China and Russia.
French President Emmanuel Macron talked a lot about vaccination, and he also raised strategic issues that have occupied him for years and with which he has repeatedly sparked debates in Europe. While he did not repeat his earlier statement in which he spoke about NATO's "brain death", he stressed that everything he said then was still valid. Macron has long advocated greater European sovereignty and strategic autonomy. He reiterated that the strength of Europe does not contradict NATO membership. For the French President, functioning European defense structures complement NATO. As if confirming this thesis, he was the one who added pressure on Germany to meet NATO's spending target: France will soon meet its agreed target of spending two percent of GDP on defense, he said, adding, that it's important to balance the transatlantic relations and to "show our American friends that we are a reliable and responsible partner."
The proposal of the German Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, who presented the concept of a new order in transatlantic relations between the USA and Germany, did not echo at the conference. What about the German press?
In Der Spiegel, Methieu von Rohr comments bluntly: "The new US President Joe Biden wants to forget Donald Trump — and Angela Merkel, Emmanuel Macron and Boris Johnson do not touch upon any irritating issues. But it won't take long." ZDF, in turn: "Joe Biden's first important speech as US President on foreign policy is balm to Europe's ears." ZDF: continues "The new US President left no doubts during his speech at the virtual Munich Security Conference: He will return the new transatlantic agenda back to the old agenda — albeit with a few footnotes that were not spoken of on the first day."
"The US President lists everything that Europeans expected: commitment to the transatlantic partnership, NATO, the Paris climate agreement, Putin's destabilization of Western democracies, the revival of the Iranian agreement, and the rise of China at the expense of fair competition. After four years of Trump's rule and the US's hostile withdrawal from the world scene, Biden is signaling to Europeans: the US has returned and will pursue a policy of rapprochement with Europe." However, time will show what this return will look like.
What does this mean for us Poles? This means that everyone has expressed their views and negotiations will now continue on this topic. Will Poles be involved in these talks? One thing is for sure. We must have strategies for every eventuality and assertively communicate our position. We are growing in strength and this situation must correspond to our media messages and diplomatic communication. The policy of Polish assembly plants for German products must be replaced by the policy of a strong and sovereign state. "Sitting quietly" no longer corresponds to the Polish raison d'état.
Translation from Polish by Andrew Woźniewicz.