Barriers and Breakthroughs: The Polish-Russian Group on Difficult Matters and Its Attempt at Historical Reconciliation 2002-2015

Author: ORCID icon
Gasser, Katherine, Slavic Languages and Literatures, University of Virginia
Tolczyk, Dariusz, AS-Slavic Languages & Lit, University of Virginia
Lynch, Allen, AS-Dept of Politics, University of Virginia

Poland and Russia share a troubled history that frequently appears in their political dialogue. The Polish-Russian Group on Difficult Matters was founded by the Polish and Russian governments in 2002 to help remove these historical issues from contemporary Polish-Russian relations. This thesis will evaluate if this attempt at historical reconciliation through the Polish-Russian Group on Difficult Matters was successful, what impact the group may have had on Polish-Russian historical reconciliation, and if the Russo-Georgian War in 2008, the Smolensk air disaster in 2010, and the Ukraine crisis beginning in 2013 were factors that impacted the work of the group and the general process of historical reconciliation. This study uses qualitative methods to analyze the contributions of the Group on Difficult Matters to Polish-Russian historical reconciliation. The factors that aid or damage historical reconciliation that Jerzy Wiatr identified in his work, _Polish-German Relations: The Miracle of Reconciliation_, will provide the analytical framework for this study’s analysis of the work of the Polish-Russian Group on Difficult Matters and the impact of contemporary events on the process of historical reconciliation. I find that the Polish-Russian Group on Difficult Matters failed to achieve full historical reconciliation between Poland and Russia in the period 2008-2015 and that perceptions of history remained embedded in Polish-Russian relations. The main factor that led to the failure of the working group and its aim of historical reconciliation was opposing Polish and Russian security interests over events in Ukraine that began in 2013.

MA (Master of Arts)
Poland, Russia, Polish-Russian Group on Difficult Matters, historical reconciliation
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