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Polish–American relations
Poland   United States
Map indicating location of Poland and USA
     Poland      United States

Polish–American relations officially began in 1919. Since 1989 Polish–American relations are very good and Poland is one of the most stable European allies of the United States.


Before the 20th century

Although the partitioning of Poland which erased the Polish state from the map in 1795 prevented the establishment of official diplomatic relations between Poland and the new American state, Poland, which enacted the world's second oldest constitution in 1791 always considered the United States a positive influence, and even in the 18th century, important Polish figures such as Tadeusz Kościuszko and Kazimierz Pułaski became closely involved with shaping US history. Many Poles emigrated to United States during the 19th century, forming a large Polish American community.

Second Polish Republic

The United States established diplomatic relations with the newly formed Polish Republic in April 1919 but the relations between the two countries were distant, while positive (due to United States non-interventionism and Poland not being seen as important for US interests).

Eventually both countries became part of the Allies in the Second World War, but there was relatively little need for detailed coordination between the United States and the Polish government in exile.

Communist period

On July 5, 1945, the US government recognized the communist government installed in Warsaw by the Soviet government, thus abandoning the Polish Government in Exile, which soon became defunct. After 1945, Poland (or the People's Republic of Poland since 1952) became part of the Soviet bloc, and as such, America's enemy in the Cold War. US first ambassador to post-war Poland, Arthur Bliss Lane, wrote a book I Saw Poland Betrayed about how the Western Allies abandoned their former ally, Poland, to the Soviet Union. However, Polish people have unofficially always considered United States a friendly power, and the Soviet Union an occupant.

After Gomułka came to power in 1956, relations with the United States began to improve. However, during the 1960s, reversion to a policy of full and unquestioning support for Soviet foreign policy objectives and negative attitude toward Israel during the Six-Day War caused those relations to stagnate. U.S.–Polish relations improved significantly after Edward Gierek succeeded Gomulka and expressed his interest in improving relations with the United States. A consular agreement was signed in 1972.

In 1974 Gierek was the first Polish leader to visit the United States. This action, among others, demonstrated that both sides wished to facilitate better relations.

The birth of Solidarity in 1980 raised the hope that progress would be made in Poland's external relations as well as in its domestic development. During this time, the United States provided $765 million in agricultural assistance. Human rights and individual freedom issues, however, were not improved upon, and the U.S. revoked Poland's most-favored-nation (MFN) status in response to the Polish Government's decision to ban Solidarity in 1981. MFN status was reinstated in 1987, and diplomatic relations were upgraded.

Post Communism

Polish President Lech Kaczyński shakes hands with United States President George W. Bush in June 2007; Poland and America are global partners

The United States and Poland have enjoyed warm bilateral relations since 1989. Every post-1989 Polish government has been a strong supporter of continued American military and economic presence in Europe, and Poland is one of the most staunch allies of the United States.

When Poland joined NATO on March 12, 1999 the two countries became part of the same military alliance. As well as supporting the Global War on Terror, Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan, and coalition efforts in Iraq (where Polish contingent was one of the largest), Poland cooperates closely with the United States on such issues as democratization, nuclear proliferation, human rights, regional cooperation in central and eastern Europe, and reform of the United Nations.


Deployment of US missile defense shield

An even tighter security alliance with the US was announced in the middle of the 2008 South Ossetia war‎ (where Poland had taken a leading role in the international community's response on the side of Georgia) as an agreement between the two countries was reached to allow the US to install and operate an interceptor missile defense shield, a move which Russia sees explicitly targeting it, prompting Russian president Dmitry Medvedev to state that it made Poland "a legitimate military target."[1] A high-ranking Russian military official said, "Poland in deploying the US system opens itself to a nuclear strike."[2]


A substantial and repeated criticism in Poland of US approach to Poland revolves about US refusal to allow Poles a visa-free entry to United States, despite the fact that most European Union countries – often much less supportive of US on the international scene – have no visa requirements.

See also


  1. Janusz Reiter, The Visa Barrier, Washington Post, August 29, 2007

Further reading

  • Michalski, Artur;, Poland’s Relations with the United States, Yearbook of Polish Foreign Policy (01/2005), [1]


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