Poland Seeks Role as Europe's Stabilizer INTERVIEW WITH PRESIDENT
Gregory Piatt, Monitor, The Christian Science Monitor
For Polish president Aleksander Kwasniewski, further discussion on why Poland wants to join NATO is no longer an option. What matters now is how quickly the former Warsaw Pact nation will enter the North Atlantic Alliance.
After the second session of the 13th NATO Workshop, which was held in Warsaw and discussed matters of expansion and European security, Mr. Kwasniewski, a former communist minister, discussed with The Christian Science Monitor the reasons why his nation of 39 million people wanted to become a member of the 16-member alliance.
"We want to be...the stabilizing element of European security and cooperation," he said. "Membership in the European Union and NATO is the next step, a necessary step, to organize and build a common Europe."
Mr. Kwasniewski will meet with President Clinton on July 8 to discuss Poland's NATO aspirations. This will be the first visit to the US of Poland's second democratically elected president since the fall of Communism seven years ago. Kwasniewski, who defeated Solidarity legend Lech Walesa last November, was from the reconstituted Polish communist party (SLD), which also controls government and parliament.
The Polish president, who came from the pragmatic and reform-minded wing of the former communist party, will also discuss with Mr. Clinton the outcome of the Russian presidential elections which looms over Poland's politics, society and quick entry into NATO.
Even though Mr. Kwasniewski predicts a Boris Yeltsin victory in the second round, he says Poland doesn't "have any reason to fear Russia," even though Russian politicians have voiced opposition to NATO expansion. …