Page 9, 31st March 1939

31st March 1939
Page 9
Page 9, 31st March 1939 — COLONEL BECK COMES TO LONDON May Abandon His " Tight-Rope " Policy
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People: Jozef Beck
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COLONEL BECK COMES TO LONDON May Abandon His " Tight-Rope " Policy

From Our Own Correspondent

GDYNIA.

ACCORDING TO PRESENT ARRANGEMENTS, COLONEL BECK, ASTUTE POLISH FOREIGN MINISTER, IS ARRIVING IN LONDON NEXT WEEK.

Among the countries newly created or restored to independenee after the World War, Poland occupies a unique place in being to-day a major force in world politics.

She is a Power to which the thoughts of politicians must be continually returning, not only as a large-scale producer and consumer, but as a resourceful potential ally or enemy. To emphasise this it is perhaps enough to state that Poland has a population of some thirty-live millions, that her area is exceeded in Europe by that of only five other countries—France, Germany, Spain, Sweden and the U.S.S.R.—and that of the expenditure in her annual budget about one-third is devoted to the defence forces,

it ia this strength, not always properly appreciated abroad, which may throw light on some aspects of Poland's foreign policy that appear baffling to foreign observers.

Alliance With France

In the first years after her successful repulsion of the Bolshevik invasion, Poland was comparatively weak. A century and a half of subjection to three foreign nations had left the country poor and disorganised, and enormous reconstruction had to be effected. On account of this weakness Poland was obliged to secure herself by foreign alliances. A close association with France was formed, and the League of Nations was looked to as a protector.

With Germany, Poland was in a state of suppressed warfare. Exchange of goods between the two countries was deliberately obstructed, and the so-called " Polish Corridor "—an expression very much disliked in Poland—was at that time supposed to be the chief of the many grievances from which Germany has claimed to be suffering since the Treaty of Versailles.

As her strengt. grew, however, Poland began to make herself less and less

dependent on foreign alliances. She made, on the whole, a more realistic estimate of the efficacy of foreign guarantees of territorial integrity than did Czechoslovakia, and she took the initiative herself in building up security against posetble attacks from the two powerful neighbours between whom she was placed.

Pact With Germany

This new and, in some ways, more enterprising foreign policy was carried into effect after Colonel Jozef Beck had replaced August Zaleski as Foreign Minister. In 1932 a non-aggression pact was signed with the U.S.S.R., and in 1934 a similar treaty was made with Germany.

Since the conclusion of these pacts there have been two main points in Poland's foreign policy.

One has been the avoidance of any inescapable attachment to one or other of the two main groups of European nations.

From both groups Poland has been trying to gain as much as possible by bargaining. Thus, while he has never overlooked the necessity of economic collaboration with Great Britain, and has never broken her association with France, at the time of the dismemberment—as opposed to the total consumption—of Czechoslovakia she found herself in partial agredment with Germany, for her purpose then was to regain the territory of Cieszyn (Teschen) which had been seized by the Czechs at the time of the Bolshevik invasion of Poland.

" Sanitary Cordon"

The other point has been the formation of a line of neutral States from the Baltic to the Black Sea, to include at its esxtremities the Scandinavian countries and Roumania.

Recently, however, with the revelation in clear nakedness of Germany's plans for world domination, both of these policies have become more and more difficult to adhere to, and it is for this reason especially that the forthcoming visit of Colonel Beck to London may be a matter of great importance.

In the first place, the sympathy of the Polish people as a whole is strongly pro-British and pro-French rather than pro-German. In view of the fact that it is difficult to imagine where Germany's remarkable territorial appetite can next be satisfied, if not in Pomerania and Danzig, this is not unnatural. Consequently, the Polish Government's policy, which has lately been somewhat hesitant, is being subjected to much severe criticism in many parts of the country.

Secondly, the possibility of the efficacy of the neutral bloc is becoming questionable. The neutral bloc was formed to prevent aggression from either east or west; but Czechoslovakia has been crushed out of existence, there is a strong pro-German party in Hungary, and Rumania seems at least to be moving towards the German economic magnet.

A Change is Indicated

It is, therefore, extremely doubtful whether Poland will be able to continue without deviation along the two lines she has drawn for the conduct of her foreign affairs, and this crisis seems to offer an opportunity to Great Britain to form bonds with Poland as strong as those which at present unite Great Britain and France.




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