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The not-so-quiet diplomat

Anna Fotyga's nomination for UN ambassador has caused a standoff in Poland.

Poland's then-Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski kisses the hand of then-Foreign Affairs Minister Anna Fotyga as he greets her before a meeting in Warsaw, Oct. 23, 2007. (Kacper Pempel/Reuters)

WARSAW — A cardinal trait of diplomats is the ability to be diplomatic, but that characteristic seems to have escaped former Polish foreign minister Anna Fotyga, who has set off yet another conflict between Poland’s president and prime minister.

Fotyga is a candidate to become Poland's ambassador to the United Nations. She served during the previous right-wing government, which made a habit of fighting with the European Union, Russia, Germany and just about everyone else on the planet except for Washington.

She was the choice of Poland’s president, Lech Kaczynski, who is an ardent admirer of the combative Fotyga. However, the center-right government of Prime Minister Donald Tusk was much cooler to her candidacy, only bending in an effort to repair frayed ties with Kaczynski.

With that cloud hanging over her, Fotyga showed up at a hearing of the parliamentary foreign relations committee, which has to approve her candidacy, and proclaimed: “A person with my background is really deeply wounded when looking at what is happening today with Poland’s foreign policy.”

When a reporter asked Radoslaw Sikorski, Poland’s current foreign minister, about Fotyga's comment, he was incredulous: “I can’t believe she’d say anything like that.”

When it became clear that she had said it, an offended Sikorski pointed out that it would be unusual to send an insubordinate ambassador to such an important post.

“I’m still waiting for an explanation, but I think it’s unlikely [that Fotyga will get the job],” Sikorski said.

Although no final decision has yet been made on Fotyga’s fate, Tusk has been frigid about his potential ambassador. “I have the opinion that the minister de facto told us she was uninterested. It will probably end with her having to wait for a new government.”

If the spat were about nothing more than a case of foot-in-mouth by an ambassadorial nominee, it would have little impact, but the fight over Fotyga is threatening to re-ignite the already stormy relationship between Tusk and Kaczynski.