“Poland recently made an ostensible move against Russian interests in Warsaw by sidelining Soviet-era graduates of Russia's most prestigious academic institution, the Moscow State Institute of International Relations (MGIMO), from its foreign ministry,” according to an article published by European news website EU Observer.
The author of the article, Katarina Kertysova, an analyst at the Hague Centre for Strategic Studies (HCSS), says that gradual dismissal of MGIMO alumni from senior positions at home and abroad has been under way since Poland’s conservative Law and Justice Party (PiS) came to power in 2015.
Kertysova, who studied at MGIMO in 2013, according to the euobserver.com website, voices her criticism of the move, saying it “weakens vital expertise at a time when Russian-speaking specialists with the necessary regional knowledge, appreciation of current events, and contacts across the region are most needed.”
According to Poland's wpolityce.pl website, Kertysova's criticism of the policy is "ludicrous."
Kertysova argues in her article, entitled “Know Your Enemy,” that the Moscow State Institute of International Relations was one of the most prestigious academic institutions in the former Soviet Union and that it “attracted the best and brightest minds from all across the Soviet space, and provided access to a vital network of contacts across the region.”
Some of the institute’s well-known European graduates include Maroš Šefčovič, the European Commission's vice-president for the energy union, according to Kertysova.
She argues that the Moscow institute “is known to serve as an important channel of Russia's unofficial political dialogue with many countries” and the new Polish personnel policy “can also be interpreted as a pre-emptive move to prevent diplomats—believed to hold 'pragmatic' views towards Russia—from pioneering a Polish-Russian rapprochement.”
Kertysova suggests the move might have been “motivated by fears of infiltration of diplomatic ranks through the university graduates.”
However, “rotation of senior staff inevitably leads to the loss of knowledge and continuity” in the diplomatic service, according to Kertysova.
“Should Poland seek rapprochement with Russia in the future, personal contacts its MGIMO-educated personnel developed throughout its academic and professional career would be of great value for diplomatic and business relations alike,” she says.
Kertysova suggests Poland should follow the example of Ukraine, which “continues to maintain both formal and informal dialogues with Russia” despite de-communisation legislation and “growing anti-Russian sentiments” among the public.
“At a time when much attention in Poland focuses on the threat emanating from the East, the government should invest in people who understand the Russians, instead of firing them,” Kertysova argues.
She adds: “Having dismissed the 'old school' personnel, is Poland doing enough to train new specialists who not only have the necessary language skills but also sufficient experience to appreciate current trends and developments in Polish-Russian relations?”
Kertysova warns against "a witch-hunt of Soviet-era MGIMO graduates.”
Source: wpolityce.pl, euobserver.com