This month is the anniversary of the Battle of Monte Cassino, which is the commemoration of polish soldiers fighting for Italy’s liberation in the WWII. The presidents of Poland and Italy both attended the ceremony, which marked as a remembrance of 100-year Poland-Italy relations. Poland-Italy relations have long been established on the similarities of Roman Catholic, historical traits and remained peaceful; however, the issues of Russia and migration have seemed to flag the different opinions from both countries.
(photo credit to: Forces Network)
Sanctions against Russia
Both countries have been generating different opinions on the topic of Russia regarding whether the sanctions should remain. Poland seems to voice the support of sanctions against Russia despite it being the EU/NATO member that has past ties with Russian Eastern bloc. Whereas, Italy is in the opinion of removing the sanctions against Russia.
Italy has been one of the EU members in favour of removing sanctions against Russia for the reason that Italy has been losing billions of goods export to the sanction on Russia. Furthermore, Italy asserts that removing the sanction will not damage the EU economy but will instead help the EU’s economic growth.
Poland’s relation with Russia has been in escalated stalemate after the death of Lech Kaczynski and the Crimea crisis. History taught Poland that international treaties could not protect itself and hence Poland built up military in response to the Crimea crisis. In terms of gas import from Russia, Poland is more in favour of importing from the Northern European countries.
Different from the issue of Russia sanctions, both countries’ opinions on migration issues marked a slight difference. Italy considers migration issue the main threat the same as economic growth and Islamic radicals; whereas, Poland deems Islamic radicalism and Russia sanction to be more important than economic growth and migration issues; plus, Poland does not agree with Italy’s view of redistributing migrants throughout Europe.
In terms of economic issue, Poland, as a member of Visegrad group, has been seeing its economic growth with GDP increasing 4.2%. Italy, which has long been in economic stagnation, struggled to find a way to pull up the GDP rate. Therefore, to Poland, the concerns depend more on the issue of Russia sanctions and less on economy and migration.
However, both countries have the similar problem on emigration. It is apparent that young people from Poland and Italy moving to work in Germany, the UK and elsewhere. Suffering from the loss of young workers, both countries have different interpretations. Poland is worried that it is difficult to eradicate the longstanding roots of communist past. Italy thinks that it is critical to adjust the economic policy so to keep the young people.
Division or Coalition?
Despite different opinions on issues of Russia sanctions and migration, both countries have remained stable political alliance especially like-minded stance on the EU parliament elections. However, the EU election has rather salient impacts on both countries’ domestic politics.
The ruling party of Poland – Law and Justice (PiS) has a 46.01% over the opposition – European Coalition 37.87%. In Italy, the far-right League party declared a victory which implies possibility of a general election ahead of cabinet reshuffle.
The multilateral relations of EU and relations among EU member countries strongly rely on the member countries’ domestic politics. However, the EU member relations can also backfire the member countries’ domestic politics. Whether it is division or coalition does not only matter to the European Union but also to the member countries themselves.
ICRD holds for peace in EU and believes that constant talks among different countries will establish stable communication and bring forward stable relations.
Author: Yung Lin, Researcher at ICRD