Poland’s new president has wasted no time making his mark, and his anti-Russia rhetoric has led some to speculate that Poland’s foreign policy is in for a radical change. On Aug. 23, Polish President Andrzej Duda visited Estonia in his first trip abroad as head of state. The visit was highly symbolic for two reasons. First, the selection of Estonia reflects Poland’s traditional view of the Baltics as its natural sphere of influence. Second, during the trip Duda repeatedly vowed to push for a permanent NATO presence in Central and Eastern Europe, a move that would create friction with Russia and Germany. The Polish president plans to make his request again during his visit to Germany later this month and to the United States in September.
Duda’s victory in Poland’s May presidential election has opened the door for the nationalist Law and Justice party to return to power in the country’s upcoming general elections. However, it is unlikely that a political upset will result in a dramatic shift of the country’s foreign policy. Poland’s geopolitical constraints will continue to influence Warsaw’s moves abroad, making a change in tone far more likely than an actual change in policy.