Can Trump shed his image as a divider?

In his speech in Warsaw US President Donald Trump pledged the US's commitment to mutual defence in Nato and harshly criticised Russia's foreign policy. Trump struck the right tone, some commentators write with relief. But in view of his statements so far others fear a new rift between Eastern and Western Europe.

Open/close all quotes
Rzeczpospolita (PL) /

Surprisingly sensible

US President Donald Trump didn't attempt to divide the EU with his speech, Rzeczpospolita concludes:

“The important thing is that the president of the US didn't attack Chancellor Merkel, the leader of the anti-Trump faction in the West. He didn't drive a wedge in the EU as some had expected him to do. He didn't put Poland and the countries of the region in an awkward position by facing them with the choice: Mama (Merkel) or Papa (Trump). At a time when the future of the West is uncertain we need both parents to act responsibly. Our American guest also spoke of this vividly.”

The Daily Telegraph (GB) /

US president sending the right signals

The West can heave a sigh of relief after Trump's speech in Warsaw, the Daily Telegraph writes:

“When Donald Trump came to office, there were fears that this unorthodox populist would be an isolationist. Yesterday's speech in Warsaw, however, was Reaganite in its internationalism. The President spoke about Poland's long struggle for freedom, praised Nato's commitment to mutual defence, condemned the use of chemical weapons and, most significantly, called on Russia to cease destabilising Ukraine and giving support to Syria and Iran. Saying all of this in Poland sends the right message. … But would Mr Trump be any tougher on Moscow? There were good reasons to fear not ... What a relief, then, to hear him robustly stand up for Western interests.”

Pravda (SK) /

Trump following in Rumsfeld's footsteps

Donald Trump tried to divide Europe with his visit to Warsaw, Pravda concludes feeling reminded of former US defence secretary Donald Rumsfeld:

“In January 2003 Rumsfeld attacked the US's Western European allies for not sharing George W. Bush's delight at the prospect of the Iraq invasion. His words about the continent being divided into an 'old' and a 'new' Europe provoked indignant responses in Berlin and Paris. … The parallels with Trump's behaviour are obvious. He has alienated Western Europe with his business-like stance on collective defence and most recently with his climate policy. His visit to Poland on the eve of the G20 summit had no other motive than deepening the rift between Warsaw and Berlin. And [PiS chief] Kaczyński shares his intention of giving 'old' Europe the finger.”

Neue Zürcher Zeitung (CH) /

Is Trump exacerbating the East-West divide?

The US president could use his visit to Poland to deepen the rifts in Europe, the Neue Zürcher Zeitung fears:

“Trump delivers a speech in front of the memorial to the Warsaw Uprising which commemorates the darkest hour of Polish history and the German atrocities. He takes part in a summit of the 'Three Seas Initiative', an economic and infrastructure project started by Poland and Croatia which aims to strengthen the ties between the countries on the Baltic, the Adriatic and the Black Sea. Warsaw also sees this as a counterweight to the German-French predominance in the EU. So not only Poland is on tenterhooks over Trump's visit. There is the real danger that the president will use it to drive the wedge between East and West even deeper in the Union he thinks so little of.”

Il Sole 24 Ore (IT) /

Is Poland isolating itself?

Poland is welcoming Trump with open arms but the country threatens to end up even more isolated in the EU, Il Sole 24 Ore comments:

“The Polish government organised the Three Seas Summit for Trump. … Warsaw is pursuing two goals here: to guarantee its territorial security against what it still sees as the 'Russian threat' thanks to America's economic and military presence. And to position itself at the forefront of the countries that oppose the 'Western elites that give the orders in Brussels' and want to reverse the balance of power in the EU. … Numerous diplomats in Brussels may downplay the importance of the Three Seas Summit, but they fear that Trump's participation in the meeting in Europe will accelerate the process of 'self-ghettoisation' that Poland seems to have chosen.”

Polityka (PL) /

Brussels more important than Washington

Trump's visit must not appear like a provocation to the EU, Polityka warns:

“The opposition should do all it can to ensure that Trump's visit to Poland isn't seen in Europe as an affront to the European Union. Our interests have basically been the same for centuries: not allowing ourselves to be forced into Russia's sphere of influence and adhering to the West - that being today above all the EU, because an isolationist and protectionist president now rules America like an oligarch. The only sensible formula for Polish foreign policy is good relations and cooperation with both Brussels and Washington. But especially with Brussels.”

Süddeutsche Zeitung (DE) /

Warsaw wants independence from Moscow

Many Poles hope that the US will be the key to ending their dependency on Russian gas, the Süddeutsche Zeitung explains:

“In Central Europe energy policy is about more than just heated living rooms. … It's about dependency, susceptibility to blackmail, trust - it's about big politics, alliance politics. Germany may argue that the Baltic Sea pipeline is a purely economic project. But people in Poland and other Central European countries don't believe this, not least because of the traumatic historical experiences. … The arguments, including those put forward by the previous Polish government, were never taken seriously in Berlin. Today's nationalist populist government is now voicing a general suspicion: that if push came to shove the German politicians would be more likely to reach a deal with the Russians than take the Central Europeans' interests and concerns seriously.” (PL) /

Poland will be stronger

Trump's visit will enhance Poland's significance on the international stage, stresses:

“The US president will meet with the leaders of a dozen countries that are all dependent on Russian gas supplies. Poland wants to end its dependency, and Donald Trump has the Americans' growing gas supplies on offer. … The Americans' offer is very tempting. And the fact that American soldiers are already stationed in Poland this year is not irrelevant. … These aspects of Trump's visit to Poland will anger Vladimir Putin in particular, but they also put a damper on things for France and Germany. At the same time Poland's significance in international politics is growing, no matter what signals Trump sends. And that's why it's important to make the most of this meeting.”

Rzeczpospolita (PL) /

Don't pander to US president

Poland should take a pragmatic approach to the visit, Rzeczpospolita recommends:

“It would be wrong to view this visit only in terms of Donald Trump's complex personality. Because Trump is coming to Warsaw as the leader of the most powerful country in the world and the guarantor of our borders. ... Consequently Poland should give him a good reception regardless of any emotional issues. If he wants to strengthen us politically, we should show our appreciation. If the visit improves Poland's ties with the US, so much the better. But our politicians should be warned against excessive humility. That would neither strengthen our position in Europe nor make a good impression on anyone else. And these aspects are important. After all, when the president returns to the US we will remain here in Europe.”