Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite declined an invitation by Polish President Bronislaw Komorowski earlier this month to join her Baltic colleagues in Poland to discuss regional security issues ahead of the NATO Summit in Chicago in May. In an email interview, Kinga Dudzinska, an analyst in the Eastern and Southeastern Europe program at the Polish Institute of International Affairs, discussed Polish-Baltic relations.
WPR: How have Poland's political and economic relations with the Baltic countries evolved in the post-Cold War period?
Kinga Dudzinska: Since Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia regained their independence from the USSR in 1991 and joined the European Union and NATO in 2004, economic relations in the region have stabilized, especially taking into account the crisis in Russia in 1998. Poland, for its part, never achieved high levels of trade with the Baltic states, mainly due to the difference in size and capabilities of their internal markets. However, since 2010, trade is clearly on the rise and already has almost reached precrisis levels. That trend notwithstanding, according to data for 2011, Lithuania is only Poland’s 15th-largest trade partner in the European Union, with Latvia and Estonia even further down in that ranking. However, Poland is an important partner for Lithuania, especially in the agricultural and food sectors, and most companies with Polish capital operate in Lithuania.
WPR: What are some current areas of converging interests in Poland-Baltic relations, and what are areas of tension?