At the same time, the Baltic Sea has always been a source of possible cooperation, and a source of conflict. Historically, the Baltic Sea basin not only shared a huge deposit of valuable amber but also provided an opportunity for trade and exchange of intellectual ideas. Attempts to turn this sea area into a local lake have been made several times by the Swedish, German and Russian empires, but all of them still ended up returning to the starting position. But all of these attempts point how significant was the Baltic basin. If you control the Baltic Sea you have control not only over much of Scandinavia but even throughout northern Europe. Although all the empires tried unsuccessfully to gain complete control over the Baltic, the idea of domination did not vanish.
Finland and Sweden are not members of NATO. Despite their de facto neutrality, Russia perceives them as a weak link to the EU and region in general and violates their airspace and sea. The appearance of Russian submarines near Stockholm took place not only during the Soviet era but also several years ago too. The Kremlin sees the Baltic Sea as a window of opportunity. It is in this space that Poland emerges, whose military, economic and political potential is growing. Official Warsaw not only has tangible military and political tools or possibilities but also the will to use them. It is in this context that the natural link between Finland and Sweden with Poland has logically created.
In 2018, a trilateral summit on Baltic Sea Security was held in Warsaw. The main supporter of these talks was the US. The most pressing issue at the summit was the issue of mobility – how mobile NATO can respond to Russian threats in the Baltic basin. While Finland and Sweden are not members of NATO, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia are known by a small military contingent, NATO, if necessary needs to be able to deploy military units quickly to protect the region. The key country is Poland. As mentioned above, the latter not only has the ability, but also the will to protect NATO’s eastern and northern borders and allied states.
Poland’s role in the EU Baltic Sea Development Strategy (EUSBSR) is critical and crucial. According to the strategy, it sets to implement infrastructure and economic projects that will increase the economic interdependence and stability of the countries in the Baltic sea area. As part of the strategy and beyond, Poland cooperates with Sweden in both energy policy, trade and security. There is a similar type of cooperation with Denmark. Bilateral annual trade with Sweden alone is up to $ 9 billion. Trade is also intensive with regard to Norway, from which oil products are imported. There is also a Special Chamber of Commerce (SPCC) between Scandinavia and Poland, which is largely responsible for increasing regional trade and development. Poland’s growing economic role is also seen in the Nordic-Baltic Cooperation, in which official Warsaw is a permanent observer as a member of the Visegrad Group.
However, the declared goal of the EU widened lately – beyond NATO EU should have its own security component, which is an important opportunity for Poland as well. Although Poland is a critical member of the NATO alliance, if the EU wants to build and strengthen a military component, this must be done not only at the expense of France and Germany but also with Poland’s intense involvement, as its military potential plays a key role in the Baltic Sea.
The deepening ties between Scandinavia and Poland in the face of external or domestic challenges is completely logical and natural. This will strengthen by another cooperation – the Three Seas Initiative. The axis of cooperation between the Adriatic, Baltic and Black Sea countries runs through official Warsaw. The supporters of this project are numerous but most importantly it is official Washington. All of that makes Poland’s northern alliance tangible and imminent.
The opinions and conclusions expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Embassy of the Republic of Poland in Tbilisi or The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Poland.