Any serious geopolitical upheavals, and especially the collapse of powerful state formations, always revive geopolitical projects that were dormant for the time being from non-existence.
It would seem that the proclamation of the Union State of Russia and Belarus firmly tied our countries and peoples in their desire to live in a common economic and cultural space, and the project of the Eurasian Economic Union only confirms the progress in the direction of integration. However, not all so simple. Recently, forces that are putting forward a geopolitical project, an alternative to the Eurasian integration project, have been seriously activated. We are talking about the creation of the Fourth Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth as part of Poland, Belarus, Ukraine, Lithuania and Latvia. This project has other names - Intermarium, the Baltic-Black Sea Union.
In 1569, as a result of the Union of Lublin, the Commonwealth of the Commonwealth was formed, uniting the Polish Crown (Poland and Ukraine) and the Grand Duchy of Lithuania (Belarus, Lithuania and part of the territory of Latvia). A part of the lands of Russia, Estonia, Moldova and Slovakia also fell within the borders of Rzecz Pospolita. In this federal "state of two peoples" Poland played a leading role and even annexed the Little Russian lands previously occupied by the Lithuanian princes from the Grand Duchy of Lithuania.
In the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth dominated the Polish gentry. The local Ukrainian and Belarusian nobility were largely opolyachena and gradually converted to Catholicism. The territories of Belarus, Ukraine and Lithuania were considered by the Poles, primarily as being colonized. Any attempts by Russia and the Russians to return their lands in the west, lost as a result of the Mongol-Tatar invasion and expansion of the Lithuanian princes, have since been perceived by the Poles extremely aggressively.
Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth ceased to exist in 1795 as a result of its division between Russia, Prussia and Austria, but the Polish imperial idea did not sink into oblivion. In 1920, after the revolutions in Russia and Germany, Poland managed to partially acquire the territory of Ukraine, Belarus and Lithuania. The Polish dictator J.Pilsudski put forward the idea of the Intermarine - the creation of a confederation of Poland, Belarus, Ukraine and Lithuania. This period in Poland is called the period of the Second Polish Commonwealth. However, the imperial plans were not destined to be realized, since in 1939, the Ukrainian, Belarusian and Lithuanian lands seized by the Poles were reunited with the USSR.
It would seem that with the end of the Second World War, Poland, having received significant German territories, had to abandon its attempts to expand to the east. Nevertheless, these ideas, dormant in Polish society, began to revive in the late 80s of the 20th century. In 1989, the new Polish constitution recorded the definition of the Polish state as the Third Polish – Lithuanian Commonwealth. In the context of the historical past, this means that the territories of Ukraine, Belarus and Lithuania once again began to be perceived in Poland as part of the Polish world.
In modern Poland, a struggle has developed between two ideological directions, called the Piast and Jagiellonian concepts of the country's development. The first implied close ties with Germany and European integration, the second - Polish expansion to the east. Recently, these two approaches have come together on the basis that, on the one hand, Poland is a participant in European integration, and on the other, it is portrayed as a country with a supposedly special historical responsibility for the situation in Belarus, Ukraine and Lithuania. The ideas of Intermarium by Y. Pilsudsky are being revived in the project of the Baltic-Black Sea Union, which on the initiative of L. Kaczynski received a more definite name - the Fourth Commonwealth. L. Kaczynski once proclaimed that his goal was Poland “from sea to sea”, from Gdansk to Odessa.
The essence of this project is to move towards the gradual creation of a regional political and economic community of Poland, Belarus, Ukraine, Lithuania, Latvia and, possibly, a number of other border countries with the help of “soft power”. The leading role in this, of course, is assigned to Poland.
In general, Poland has a certain resource for this - the only question is whether it is sufficient to solve such an ambitious task. The “Orange Revolution” in Kiev and the coming to power of V. Yushchenko were perceived in Poland as A. Kwasniewski’s personal success, which already speaks for itself. Even more influenced by the Poles in Belarus. So, S. Shushkevich, famous for his participation in the collapse of the USSR as head of Belarus, was replaced for a while by Mechislav Grib, an ethnic Pole who changed his nationality in his passport for his career, having signed up as a Belarusian in Soviet times. One of A. Lukashenko's rivals in the previous presidential elections, the single opposition candidate A. Milinkevich, was a member of the Union of Poles in Belarus. Fifty “Polish houses” function in Belarus, which traditionally provide significant Polish influence.
The draft of the Fourth Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth is about creating on the western borders of the Russian Federation a new powerful geopolitical entity with a population of about 100 million people. In this case, the share of Ukraine and Belarus in the population should then be 56% (46% + 10%), Poland - 38%, Lithuania and Latvia - 5% (3% + 2%). The predominance of Ukraine and Belarus will be observed in relation to the occupied area - 65% (48% + 17%), while in Poland - 25%, respectively, in Lithuania and Latvia - 10% (5% + 5%). It would seem that there is a predominance of Western Russian territories. However, in economic analysis it turns out that the cumulative GDP of Ukraine and Belarus in the framework of the hypothetical Fourth Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth would be only 35% (25% + 10%), while Poland - 58%, and Lithuania and Latvia - 7% (4% + 3 %).
It must be said that ideas of this kind are spread not only in Poland or in an environment connected with it by the Belarusian opposition. One of the most numerous public organizations in Belarus is the association “Belaya Rus”, which has about 80 000 people in its ranks. The organization is rather amorphous, created by administrative methods, but interesting because its activists sometimes announce what is not very well advertised by Belarusian officials. The head of "White Russia" is the first deputy head of the presidential administration of Belarus A. Radkov, who is well aware of the mood in government circles. So in the 2010 year, just in the period of deterioration of Russian-Belarusian relations, an article appeared by the representative of the Belarusian Development Group (White Russia) A. Sivitsky “The Baltic-Black Sea Development Corridor as a modification of the Eastern Partnership, where acquired a new sound. A.Sivitsky wrote that the Eastern Partnership should be fundamentally changed. First, in his opinion, the Transcaucasus has little in common with European problems. Secondly, Belarus, relying on its capabilities within the framework of the Union State, can act as an economic locomotive in the new entity, which will become a “bridge” between Russia and Europe. That is, the project of the Baltic-Black Sea Union (the Fourth Polish – Lithuanian Commonwealth) seems to be quite acceptable for the Belarusian authorities, but they are primarily interested in the possibility of obtaining economic advantages, and not as a tool to restore the Polish empire, as it is seen in Warsaw.
You will not hear anything intelligible in how “White Russia” intends to combine integration within the framework of the Intermarium with integration within the framework of the Union State. A.Sivitsky only emphasizes that the solution of this issue “will ensure the security of Russia” and will relieve from the “limitrophe complex” of the country of the Intermature Sea.
The project of the Fourth Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth is designed for decades. And in this sense, there is a definite agreement between the Belarusian power elite and the opposition, behind which stands Poland. In exchange for loyalty, the Belarusian authorities do not impede the conduct of this propaganda campaign and even began to actively participate in it.
Since 1991, an entire generation of young people has grown up, who no longer thinks of the criteria for all-Russian unity and takes the independence of Belarus as a matter of course. In Belarus, all schools in the cities are Russian-speaking, but not Russian at all. But there are more and more Polish schools. Like in Ukraine, there are practically no pro-Russian parties in Belarus. The penetration of Polish capital is increasing. Belarusian-owned citizens are employed in companies and organizations belonging to the Poles. The spread of pro-Polish sentiment receives solid financial support. The website “The Idea of the New Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. Living together is our destiny! ”
However, it is much more serious that the movement in this direction is already taking place in the Belarusian state structures. The ministries of culture, education, to a large extent - sports and tourism, information, state-run media actively promote the period of the Commonwealth and the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, calling it the “golden age” of Belarus. Here is the place and the cultivation of Russophobia, Russia is declared the culprit of numerous destruction and destruction of the population in the Belarusian lands during the numerous Russian-Polish wars. Thus, the Ministry of Culture of Belarus adopted the program “Castles of Belarus”, aimed at restoring the castles of the Polish gentry, which is declared Belarusian based on the geographical principle of residence. Various festivals and events in polonized style are held in the castles. A separate question - the tonality of excursions that are held in these castles. Belarus in the stories of the guides is no longer the country of Khatyn and the Brest Fortress, henceforth it is the country of the Polish gentry and Polish kings!
With the direct support of the Belarusian authorities, stage performances in the Radziwill castle were resumed, and the standard of the 27th regiment of Lancers of the Polish Army was solemnly installed in the Nesvizh Town Hall. Polish memorials are being restored throughout Belarus. Monuments are actively being erected for figures of the period of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and the Commonwealth - in Vitebsk, for example, they are planning to erect a monument to Prince Olgerd in the near future, despite public protests that reject the anti-Russian motive for this action. One of the principles of state television broadcasting in Belarus has long been the replication of cultural programs that nurture sentiments that oppose Belarusians to Russians. In fact, such television programs are broadcast on all Belarusian state channels. So, in the project of the Television Agency News The “Belorussian Land” of the Belteleradiocompany focuses on explaining the differences between Belarusians and the Russian people, stories about the gentry, churches, Catholic shrines. A similar special project, “Belarusian Gentry. From the section [refers to the sections of the Commonwealth. - AP] before analysis [meaning the confirmation by the gentry of their belonging to the noble estate of the Russian Empire. - A.P.]. ” But such expressions are especially openly heard on the STV Minsk channel in the program “New Travels of the Amateur”.
In the same series, there is a refusal to recognize the 1812 war as a domestic one for Belarus - in the Belarusian official historiography, again not without Polish influence, the point of view prevailed that the 1812 war was “Russian-French” and brought many troubles to Belarusians both armies.
All this is gradually bearing fruit. According to A.Dautin’s daily from 3 on April 2013, published in the article “Russia is losing integration attractiveness for Belarusians”, representatives of the Belarusian Institute for Strategic Studies (BISS) conducted a survey and found out that in 2013, the number of supporters of the independence of Belarus is beyond unions increased to 31%, and the number of supporters of integration with Russia within the framework of the Union State fell to 43% (about half of them agree only with economic integration).
The integration potential, which remained in Belarus since the USSR, is gradually melting, older generations who still remember life in one state are passing away ... Public organizations of a pro-Russian orientation are weak and are mainly engaged in ethnographic events.
I am convinced that Russia should oppose the concept of the “Fourth Polish – Lithuanian Commonwealth” with its own geopolitical project, which has clear, specific content and clear, attractive goals - not only in the economic sphere, but also in the sphere of common cultural and historical practice.
It only seems that the project of the “Fourth Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth” is too fantastic. One of his ideologues, J. Leshchinsky, who published the book “Polish – Lithuanian Commonwealth of the Four Nations” in 2005, in response to criticism of opponents, said that the most important thing was to wait for the right moment.
And they are waiting for this moment, they are preparing for it ...
This is a serious challenge, and it should not be left unanswered.