Defense co-op between Türkiye, Poland possible, necessary: Expert - M5 Dergi
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Defense co-op between Türkiye, Poland possible, necessary: Expert

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Defense cooperation between Türkiye and Poland is possible and necessary, Karolina Wanda Olszowska, co-founder of the Polish think tank Institute of Turkish Studies, told Anadolu Agency (AA) in an interview recently.

Poland was the first NATO country to sign an agreement in 2021 to buy 24 unitsof Turkish-made Bayraktar TB2 drones from Türkiye.

Eight years of nationalist Law and Justice Party (PiS) rule changed hands at the end of 2023, and current Prime Minister Donald Tusk restored relations with the EU. It remains to be seen whether Poland’s ties with Türkiye will continue under the Tusk administration.

Regarding purchasing Türkiye’s domestically made drones, Olszowska told AA that “from the perspective of security threats, this decision reflects a well-informed and forward-thinking approach to defense strategy.”

“This cooperation (between Türkiye and Poland) is not only possible but necessary,” she said.

“During various debates, conferences and discussions, I have encountered the opinion that the Turkish arms sector is developing very quickly and its quality is improving significantly with more tests,” she added.

Olszowska pointed out that attitudes toward Russia differ in Poland and Türkiye due to different historical experiences.

She emphasized that Russia has posed an “existential threat” to Poland for centuries due to the years of Russian occupation.

“The security goal of Poland and Europe is for Kyiv to win and for Ukraine to regain all occupied lands,” said Olszowska.

She noted the migration crisis after hundreds of people tried entering Poland illegally from Belarus in 2021 and that Türkiye played a key role in averting illegal entries.

“It was not a matter of not accepting refugees. After all, after the outbreak of war in Ukraine, Poland took in about 2.5 million Ukrainians, but they did not cross the border illegally. However, the situation was different on the Polish-Belarusian border, where, through the deliberate actions of Russia and Belarus, groups of refugees were gathered and forced to cross the Belarusian-Polish border. It was thanks to Türkiye’s actions that this migration route was blocked, and the actions that would threaten Poland’s security in 2021 were leveled,” she said.

“Türkiye is part of a vital security arrangement for Poland,” she added.

EU support to Ukraine

Olszowska highlighted that disagreements among EU countries about support for Ukraine were due to “a clash of different interests and worldviews.”

“They view Russia differently through the prism of their historical experiences and the dimension of economic relations, such as trade, (which) makes it very difficult to conduct a single policy towards Russia within the EU,” she said.

Olszowska stated that the Weimar Triangle format summit countries – Germany, France and Poland – brought people together to export supplies and arms to Ukraine, a testament to the strong unity among the leaders, as they were the largest aid providers to the war-stricken country.

“It’s important to note that despite their significant contributions, the current aid is inadequate,” she said, emphasizing the need to increase aid and sustain support to Ukraine, including the development of new support mechanisms and further discussion to advance the effectiveness of existing tools.

She added that French President Emmanuel Macron’s proposal to provide military support to Ukraine is also supported by Poland. This is a clear indication that the international community acknowledges the gravity of the situation and the need for cooperation.

Black Sea Grain Initiative

Olszowska said the Polish elections held Oct. 15, 2023, marked a significant change in the ruling party. The new coalition led by Tusk inherited urgent issues when he was elected, such as improving Polish-EU relations and releasing frozen funds.

“Politics, the art of governing, is also the art of reconciling conflicting interests crucial to a country’s development,” she said.

She noted that the new administration faced the domestic implications of the EU’s agricultural policies.

Olszowska pointed out that the increase in grain exports from Ukraine to the EU was the underlying base of farmer protests in Poland.

“The blockade of the Black Sea ports forced a shift in the transport route to land, leading to a flood of Ukrainian grain in the Polish and EU markets. This influx has significantly worsened the already precarious situation of Polish farmers, amplifying their grievances and the urgency of finding a solution,” she said.

Pointing to the Black Sea Grain Initiative signed in July 2022 in coordination with Ukraine, Russia and the U.N. with Türkiye’s diplomatic efforts to solve the problem, she said if the provisions of this agreement are returned, the issues related to the route will be minimized.

Olszowska emphasized that the threat of a Russian attack on Europe should never be taken lightly.

“On Feb. 24, 2022, Europe came to a standstill when it saw combat vehicles entering Ukraine. Recalling this image makes it difficult not to take the threat seriously,” she said.

Olszowska noted that the Russian-Ukrainian war started long before 2022, with Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014.

“Türkiye’s voice is essential here, rebuking the fate of the Crimean Tatars and calling for the annexation of Crimea to Ukraine,” she said.

“Russia has repeatedly proven that it behaves unpredictably, with its actions often deviating from official announcements, and that it does not hesitate to use force, even in violation of treaties and international law,” she added.

Source: DailySabah

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