Why the Polish Elections Matter to the US and NATO
Virtual Member-only Briefing Series
Thursday, October 19th, 2023 | 6:00 PM – 7:15 PM ET
The Russian invasion of Ukraine has highlighted the importance of Poland as a strategic ally for the United States and NATO. While Warsaw has been a steadfast partner for Western support of Ukraine, including serving as a logistical hub for the war effort as well as a haven for Ukrainian refugees, its domestic policies are seen as becoming less democratic. Since 2015, Poland’s conservative governing Law and Justice Party (PIS), along with its coalition partners, has eroded or challenged fundamental tenets of civil society, including attacks on judicial independence, freedom of the press, access to abortion, and rights of women, migrants, and the LGBTQ+ community. Strains between Warsaw and the European Union continue to grow, most recently over electoral policy reforms which appear to target the leader of the pro-democracy opposition. The upcoming Polish parliamentary elections – scheduled for this October – will likely determine whether Poland remains a democracy or further follows the path of Hungary or Turkey toward illiberalism. What will likely be the results of the Polish elections? How will they impact Poland’s role in NATO and the EU? And how will the United States – a historically strong ally – react to the outcome? Join us on Thursday, October 19th as Ambassador Daniel Fried discusses the high-stakes of the parliamentary elections for Poland’s political future as well as for the EU and the Transatlantic community.
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Ambassador Daniel Fried
In the course of his forty-year Foreign Service career, Ambassador Fried played a key role in designing and implementing American policy in Europe after the fall of the Soviet Union. As Special Assistant and NSC Senior Director for Presidents Clinton and Bush, Ambassador to Poland, and Assistant Secretary of State for Europe (2005-09), Ambassador Fried helped craft the policy of NATO enlargement to Central European nations and, in parallel, NATO-Russia relations, thus advancing the goal of Europe whole, free, and at peace. During those years, the West’s community of democracy and security grew in Europe. Ambassador Fried helped lead the West’s response to Moscow’s aggression against Ukraine starting in 2014: as State Department Coordinator for Sanctions Policy, he crafted U.S. sanctions against Russia, the largest U.S. sanctions program to date, and negotiated the imposition of similar sanctions by Europe, Canada, Japan and Australia.
Ambassador Fried became one of the U.S. government’s foremost experts on Central and Eastern Europe and Russia. While a student, he lived in Moscow, majored in Soviet Studies and History at Cornell University (BA magna cum laude 1975) and received an MA from Columbia’s Russian Institute and School of International Affairs in 1977. He joined the U.S. Foreign Service later that year, serving overseas in Leningrad (Human Rights, Baltic affairs, and Consular Officer), and Belgrade (Political Officer); and in the Office of Soviet Affairs in the State Department.
As Polish Desk Officer in the late 1980s, Fried was one of the first in Washington to recognize the impending collapse of Communism in Poland, and helped develop the immediate response of the George H.W. Bush Administration to these developments. As Political Counselor at the U.S. Embassy in Warsaw (1990-93), Fried witnessed Poland’s difficult but ultimately successful free market, democratic transformation, working with successive Polish governments.
Ambassador Fried also served as the State Department’s first Special Envoy for the Closure of the Guantanamo (GTMO) Detainee Facility. He established procedures for the transfer of individual detainees and negotiated the transfers of 70 detainees to 20 countries, with improved security outcomes.
Ambassador Fried is currently a Weiser Family Distinguished Fellow at the Atlantic Council. He is also on the Board of Directors of the National Endowment for Democracy and a Visiting Professor at Warsaw University.
Dan Fried has been married to Olga Karpiw since 1979; they have two children (Hannah and Sophie), and are the besotted grandparents of Ava Helen and Zora Fried Hanley.
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