It has already been compared by Poland’s pro-government press to John F Kennedy’s historic 1963 visit to West Berlin, but Donald Trump’s trip to Warsaw this week has prompted concerns over a presidential strategy that threatens not to unite Europe but to divide it.
Trump is due to arrive in Poland on Wednesday evening and deliver a major speech in Warsaw on Thursday afternoon. He will also attend a gathering of central European, Baltic and Balkan leaders, before heading to the G20 summit in Hamburg.
Poland’s ruling rightwing Law and Justice party (PiS) has struggled to contain its excitement since the visit was announced last month. The defence minister, Antoni Macierewicz, said it showed “how much Poland’s place in geopolitics and world politics has changed”.
But there is unease in Brussels and other European capitals that Trump’s visit will be seen as an endorsement – tacit or otherwise – of a government which has repeatedly clashed with EU institutions over its assault on independent democratic institutions, and its refusal to accept migrants under quotas agreed to by its pro-European predecessor.
To the horror of the Polish government’s domestic opponents, Trump’s speech will be delivered in front of the monument to the 1944 Warsaw Uprising against Nazi occupation, a doomed enterprise that resulted in the death of approximately 200,000 Poles.
My report for the Guardian can be found here.