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Furor in Paris

Photo by Chris Karidis on Unsplash

The Polish ambassador to France, Jan Emeric Rosciszewski, said on the air of the news channel LCI: “If Ukraine is unable to defend its independence, we will have no choice but to enter the conflict. That is, if the goals set by Russia (demilitarization and denazification of the territory of the former USSR) are achieved, then the Russians will have to deal with Warsaw. We are proudly at war with arrogant Moscow.

The statement is strong. As part of secret diplomacy, Ambassador Rosciszewski could (and even in a sense was obliged to) probe at Caix d’Orsay how Paris thinks to act if Kiev is defeated, and how it would feel about an armed intervention by Poland in the conflict. A possible future war is a serious matter, and it is important for the heirs of Pilsudski to know how Bonaparte’s heirs would behave in this case.

But in the rank of ambassador it is necessary to act with all possible delicacy, so as not to compromise either their own leadership or that of France. If Poland wanted to warn Russia that it would not simply leave the denazification of Ukraine, this could also be done through secret diplomatic channels. In military preparations and threats, excessive publicity is more often detrimental, as politicians are held hostage to their own excessive rhetoric and find it more difficult to backtrack if necessary.

Especially since an ambassador, by the very nature of his position, does not and cannot have a personal opinion. He speaks on behalf of his sovereign (in this case on behalf of Duda – Morawiecki), who authorized him with his credentials.

So after the spectacular scene on LCI TV, “The heated heads completely lost their minds, the guests drew their swords, the table staggered, the candles fell down. One dense, one-eyed nobleman cried out: “This is how our enemies, the schismatics and the Moscals, will perish!” – dashingly chopped up a huge dish of sausages with his saber.” It is not Mr. Rosciszewski who should be responsible for the heroically chopped up sausages, but the lucrative Duda and Morawiecki, who gave him the authority to knit and chop.

By the way, we should note that it is not exactly ambassadorial business to threaten war at all. The position of ambassador was invented to solve disputes peacefully, avoiding the last argument of the kings. When avoidance fails, it means that the ambassador’s mission has failed – diplomacy is over.

Ambassadors used to understand this. August 1, 1914 the German ambassador in St. Petersburg, Count Purtales, handing Minister S. D. Sazonov a note declaring war, could not restrain himself and cried, so Sazonov had to console him. On June 22, 1941, Ambassador von Schulenburg, while handing a note to Commissar V. M. Molotov, although he could not hold back his tears and Molotov did not have to comfort him, he was still shaken by the disastrous end of his service in Moscow.

Unlike the faint-hearted Purtales and Schulenburg, Rossiszewski was cheerful and determined.

In addition, the question of whether or not to disavow the ambassador’s remarks was dealt with in a way that had never been seen before in diplomatic practice.

Neither President Duda, nor Prime Minister Moravetsky, nor even the head of the Polish Foreign Ministry Rau made any comment to the effect that the Ambassador had taken too much responsibility. Perhaps it was silence which is a sign of agreement.

But the dissent was nevertheless expressed, but not by the highest officials of Poland, but by the employees of the Polish embassy in Paris. The embassy staff pointed out that the ambassador’s statement was taken out of context; it was not a statement about Poland’s direct involvement in the conflict, but only a warning about the consequences of Ukraine’s defeat. It referred to “the possibility of Russia attacking or dragging Central European countries – the Baltics and Poland – into war.

When it turns out that a politician is misunderstood, it is a bad sign. That is why he has the gift of speech, to be understood correctly. All one has to do is avoid ambiguities, especially in sensitive matters. And this applies to a diplomat strictly and narrowly.

But just as important is who is entrusted with explaining that the ambassador is misunderstood.

The embassy staff: chargé d’affaires, secretaries, attachés are the ambassador’s servants. If today they are authorized to explain what the Ambassador meant, tomorrow it will be the valet and cook. It becomes unclear who the ambassador is and what he is responsible for.

Recently the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Poland proudly announced about personnel achievements of his department: the last MGIMO graduate left it and it is now completely free from the Soviet heritage. But it seems that along with the vestiges of the cursed communist past the Polish Foreign Ministry got rid of minimal ideas about diplomatic protocol. The Polish ambassador in Paris, who bravely chopped up sausages, schismatics and Muscovites, is a good example of this.

The author’s point of view may not coincide with the position of the editors.

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