[Download the map at the end of the article]
With the beginning of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Europe has faced a number of new challenges. Considering the special role that Poland plays in coordinating the European eastern policies and providing support for Ukraine, as well as this year’s Polish Presidency in Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), The Institute of New Europe decided to map the foreign visits which Minister Rau paid between the 24th of February and the 8th of July.
Since the beginning of the invasion, minister Rau has completed ca. 30 official foreign delegations. While representing Poland, he went to Finland, Spain, Luxembourg, Turkey, Germany, Iran, Latvia, India, Slovakia, the Netherlands, Belgium and Switzerland. As the Head of Polish diplomacy in 2022 is simultaneously serving as the OSCE Chairman-in-Office, he represented this organization in the following countries: the United Kingdom, North Macedonia, Albania, Montenegro, Mongolia, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Austria, Moldova and the USA.
Because of the strategic significance and special nature of some of the visits, the team responsible for the preparation of the map decided to provide short briefs of the relevant delegations.
Between the 7th and the 9th of May, Minister Rau paid an official visit to the Islamic Republic of Iran. It has been the first delegation of the Polish Minister of Foreign Affairs to this country since 2014. At the invitation of Iran, Minister held meetings with the President of Iran – Ebrahim Raisi, the Chairman of the Islamic Consultative Assembly – Mohammad Bager Qalibaf, and the Iranian Minister of Foreign Affairs – Hossein Amir-Abdollahian. The talks primarily concerned the most crucial areas of bilateral cooperation and provided a framework to exchange opinions regarding current global and regional developments, with a particular focus on the problem of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. During the visit, the parties signed an Agreement between the Government of the Republic of Poland and the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran on cooperation in the fields of culture, education, science, sport, youth, and mass media. Minister’s delegation to Iran coincided with the 80th anniversary of the reception of Polish refugees that sheltered in Iran after the so-called Anders’s Army evacuation from the Soviet Union. As part of commemorative events, the head of Polish diplomacy visited Polish memorial sites – among them the graveyards where soldiers of the Anders’s Army and civilians were buried.
The United States of America
During delegation to the major non-European ally of Poland (more precisely to New York) between the 13th and the 15th of March, Minister Rau, acting as the OSCE Chairman-in-Office, partook in the meeting of the UN Security Council. He also held talks with the Secretary-General of the UN – Antonio Guterres, the Chairman of the 76th General Assembly of the UN – Abdulla Shahid, the Permanent Representative of the UAE to the UN, and simultaneously the Chairman of the UN Security Council – Lana Nusseibeh, and Mohemed Abushahab – a.i. the chargé d’affaires of the UAE to the UN. Since the UN plays a critical role in organizing humanitarian aid for Ukraine, the topic of Russian aggression on that country was central to all of these engagements. Moreover, delegates considered the issues of possible ramifications of Russian activities for European and global security, as well as humanitarian and refugee crises.
Between the 25th and the 27th of April 2022, Minister Rau represented Polish diplomacy in a visit to India. It has been the first visit of the Polish Minister of Foreign Affairs to this country for nine years. The central goal of the delegation was participation in the international conference – Raisina Dialogue. The head of Polish diplomacy also met with the PM of India Narendra Modi and held bilateral political talks with the Indian Minister of External Affairs – Subrahmanyam Jaishankar. During the meeting, parties reflected on the Polish stance (also as the current Leadership of the OSCE) regarding the most significant international issues (above all the Russian aggression in Ukraine) and the Polish-Indian cooperation in the field of environmental technologies.
During the NATO Summit in Madrid between the 28th and the 30th of June 2022, Minister Rau accompanied President Andrzej Duda. The meeting of the NATO states’ leaders concerned primarily the issue of Russian aggression on Ukraine and its ramifications for the Euro-Atlantic community. During the Summit, the member states passed the new NATO Strategic Concept. The document, for the first time, labeled the Russian Federation as the most substantial and direct menace to the security of the allies and indicated the need for enhancing the presence of allied military forces on the Eastern flank of NATO. Besides, member states agreed to open the door for Finland and Sweden to join the alliance. Minister Rau, accompanying President Duda, took part also in the bilateral meeting with the President of the Republic of Korea – Yoon Suk-yeol.
On the 24th of May, at the invitation of the German side, Minister Rau travelled to Berlin to hold political consultations with his German counterpart Annalena Baerbock. During the working visit a range of issues were raised, i.a. energy and food security, the sanctions on Russia, and the support for Ukraine. The key element of the meeting was the signing of the memorandum about the Agreement between the Government of the Republic of Poland and the Government of the Federal Republic of Germany regarding the financial support for the International Youth Meeting Centre, run by the “Krzyżowa” Foundation for Mutual Understanding in Europe. The visit was the bilateral reassurance of solidarity and united efforts in the current reality of jeopardised security of Europe.
In the early days of June, Minister Rau, acting as the OSCE Chairman-in-Office, held a two-day delegation to Kazakhstan. In Nur-Sultan, he engaged in meetings with the country’s highest officials: President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, Chairmen of both chambers of the Parliament – Maulen Ashimbayev and Yerlan Koshanov, as well as with the acting Minister of Foreign Affairs Akan Rakhmetullin. During his journey, Minister Rau reassured about the OSCE’s support for the ongoing reform process in Kazakhstan, therein the constitutional referendum planned for the 5th of June. He underscored that the OSCE Programme Office in Nur-Sultan is committed to supporting further reforms in the areas such as law enforcement and judiciary, local governance, and bolstering the institution of the Ombudsman.
Uzbekistan made up the second stage of Minister Rau’s journey to the countries of Central Asia. On the 4th of June in Tashkent, the head of Polish diplomacy, again acting as the OSCE Chairman-in-Office, held talks with President Shavkat Mirziyoyev, the First Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Vladimir Norov, and the Chairmen of both chambers of the Parliament – Tanzila Narbaeva and Nuriddinjon Ismailov. Minister Rau emphasized the OSCE’s contribution to the efforts aimed at the implementation of reforms in Uzbekistan. He also unveiled the plans that regard a reinforced engagement in the region. Besides, he encouraged dialogue with civil society and sustained promotion of human rights.
Translator: Marcin Pijaj