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The not-so-quiet diplomat

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

Kaczynski is withholding his signature from six ambassadorial nominations, leaving those posts unfilled. Insiders say the reason is to hold a threat over Tusk’s head in case he decides to oppose Fotyga’s appointment.

Renewed fighting between Poland’s leaders will do little to enhance the country’s diplomatic credentials, which have already been tattered by past conflicts over who gets to take the lead in foreign policy.

Kaczynski, who is suspicious of both Germany’s and Russia’s intentions toward Poland, has made a point of establishing his own foreign policy that is occasionally at odds with that of Sikorski and the government. In a calculated snub at western Europe, he has embraced Vaclav Klaus, his Czech counterpart, who has in the past compared the European Union to the Soviet empire. In the east, Kaczynski often travels to anti-Russian countries like the Baltic states, Georgia and Ukraine, hoping to shore them up against any dreams of imperial revival on Moscow’s part.

Tusk has made it a centerpiece of his foreign policy to undo some of the damage wrought by Lech Kaczynski’s twin brother Jaroslaw, who was prime minister until 2007, and Fotyga was his foreign minister. Sikorski spent part of this week in Moscow in an unusually warm visit that seems to have dramatically reduced the strain between the historic enemies. Vladimir Putin, Russia’s prime minister, is scheduled to visit Poland in September.

But efforts to paint Poland as a more predictable partner have been damaged by unseemly fights between Tusk and Kaczynski over who gets to represent the country at international summits, with the frequent but awkward result being that both men squeeze into Poland’s spot at the conference table, unwilling to let their rival bask in the spotlight alone. Kaczynski has balked at following instructions from the government, while the government has occasionally gone out of its way to humiliate the president.

In recent weeks some of the venom seemed to have drained from the confrontation, but now Fotyga’s performance threatens to spark yet another conflict.

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