By Ewa Kern-Jedrychowska, Polish Daily News and FI2W reporter
Polish President Kaczynski - Photo: Polish Presidency.
The first phone conversation between Polish president Lech Kaczynski and U.S. President-elect Barack Obama, which took place the Friday after the election, has already caused diplomatic confusion, as apparently they had different understandings of what was said.
The next day, President Kaczynski issued a statement on his Polish-language website saying that Obama “emphasized the importance of the strategic partnership of Poland and the United States and expressed hope in the continuation of political and military cooperation between our countries. He also said that the missile-defense project would continue.”
The last sentence, however, was removed the next day after a quick reaction from Obama’s staff.
“President Kaczynski raised missile defense, but President-elect Obama made no commitment on it,” said Obama’s senior foreign policy advisor Denis McDonough. “His position is, as it was throughout the campaign, that he supports deploying a missile-defense system when the technology is proved to be workable.”
The misunderstanding quickly became fuel for comments in the Polish media.
The second-largest Polish newspaper, left-leaning Gazeta Wyborcza, which is often critical of the conservative Kaczynski, interpreted a memo by Obama’s top foreign policy advisers Tony Lake and Susan Rice as a reaction to that conversation.
As reported by Politico, in the memo sent out to all of Obama’s foreign policy advisers, Lake and Rice wrote: “We ask each of you please do not under any circumstances speak to the press, any foreign officials, or embassies on behalf of the transition or President-elect Obama. (…) It would be highly damaging for foreign government or media to receive information that they believe falsely to represent the views of the President-elect.”