West Africa - Sahel

Poland lends half-lip support to France's action in Mali

The map of the locations of Polish institutes around the world – during the open day at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Warsaw – shows the limit of Poland's global vision (credit: MSZ Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

(BRUXELLES2) First false European note, coming from Warsaw. In a statement released on Saturday (January 12), Marcin Bosacki, spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs expressed his " deep concern over the escalation of military operations, initiated by radical rebel groups in northern Mali. These developments carry the risk of continuing to destabilize the entire region » he specifies before adding the Polish position.

International cooperation rather than military action?

« Poland defends active international cooperation to restore stability in Mali, in line with the position expressed by the European Union and in the spirit of the decisions taken by the United Nations and the African Union. » He judges that " France's bilateral aid for the Bamako authorities also understandable ". Understand… The support is very weak!

For good measure, the spokesperson then condemns “ firmly the measures taken by international terrorist groups guided by religious extremism which destabilize the region. “And to conclude with a” call on the Malian authorities to accelerate work on the road map describing the steps leading to the restoration of constitutional order in this country ».

First analysis: cyclical reserve (over the weekend) or deeper

Poland thus shows a certain reserve in relation to France's military action, which is reminiscent of the German (but also Polish) reserve during the NATO intervention in Libya. Reserve which is not unexpected. It will be noted that Poland has remained very vague for several months about its concrete commitment to the European operation to train the Malian army (EUTM Mali).

Now we will have to see if this position will survive the weekend. And if it will not provoke a correction on the part of Prime Minister Donald Tusk in particular. We must not forget that Poland is not only a member of the Weimar triangle (of 5) (that's surprising!) but that other negotiations are at stake (financial framework in particular, future appointments). A “repeated” hiccup could tarnish good relations between Paris and Warsaw and ultimately turn against the latter. Paris being in this operation supported by most of the “major” European countries (and the USA).

However, we must not deny a certain distrust, even a certain irritation, for several months, of the diplomats of several European countries towards the avant-gardeism (not to say adventurism) of France on Mali. Warsaw is not, in this case, isolated. Some diplomats believe that European involvement in EUTM Mali stems more from a position due to France's past than from a real threat and are committing to it reluctantly...

Nicolas Gros Verheyde

Chief editor of the B2 site. Graduated in European law from the University of Paris I Pantheon Sorbonne and listener to the 65th session of the IHEDN (Institut des Hautes Etudes de la Défense Nationale. Journalist since 1989, founded B2 - Bruxelles2 in 2008. EU/NATO correspondent in Brussels for Sud-Ouest (previously West-France and France-Soir).