Ambassador Brzezinski’s Interview with Radio Krakow

14 July 2022

Ambassador Brzezinski: I was speaking to a group of students this morning, business students and young business people here in Krakow. And I said to them that starting an ambassadorship and a new embassy operation is like starting a business. You have to have a vision; you develop a strategy to implement that vision; and then you start tactically implementing that strategy. And my vision from the very beginning is to make American-Polish relations as close and as meshed together as possible. And I’ve zeroed in on four particular pieces: the security dimension, the humanitarian dimension, the economic dimension, and the people-to-people dimension. And, the Ukraine crisis, really, quite frankly, provided the basis to advance on each of those four things really proactively. And that’s what you do as an ambassador, you seize the opportunity, even out of crisis, even if it’s the worst kiind of crisis, warfare, like what we have right here. But what I think we’ve done in the five months that I’ve been here is mesh together more closely our militaries, we now have more than 10,000 US troops in Poland and President Biden announced last week, that the US V Corps (Forward Command) in Poznan will be permanent, as well as a garrison in Poznan and a supply depot. That is a massive tectonic shift. The humanitarian response by the Poles has been magnificent and literally has reintroduced Poland to the world in an incredibly positive and productive way. The world sees the humanity of the Polish people and says “thank you.” I think that’s incredible. The economic piece continues to drive forward on the basis of a 30 year trajectory.  Really only one year out of 30 years, has Poland not had a positive growth rate. And that’s not lost on anyone that Poland is a good investment.  That’s why Poland’s economy continues to grow at 4% even though it’s on the border of a crisis. Inflation, obviously, is a is something that has to have an eye kept on, and we’re all doing that. But the productivity of the Polish people is amazing.  I think that on People to People never have the Americans and the Poles been so aligned around a particular conflict, since the collapse of the Soviet Union, as the full scale attack by Russia on Ukraine.

Anna Piekarczyk, Radio Krakow: What do you think of freedom of media in Poland? 

Ambassador Brzezinski: Well, I have been glad to see that there’s such a variety of television, radio, and media outlets in Poland.  There’s a flourishing media context. And that’s very, very important to protect, because it’s through the competition of ideas shared between people through media that produces the best results. That’s the pure benefit for people of a vibrant media that offers conflicting perspectives, sometimes loudly. And that’s okay. Sometimes it is loud. It is a way of getting the best results. We were, of course, applauding and very happy that TVN received the licenses that they’ve received, and are watching the media space very closely, and have an intensely close relationship with the media as an embassy. I can tell you that right now.

Anna Piekarczyk, Radio Krakow: How does that compare with American Media?

Ambassador Brzezinski: But I think that what’s impressive about Polish media is the professionalism of those who practice this profession. I know the profession well because my sister Mika has been in the media business for approaching 40 years. And so I’ve been able to look over her shoulder regarding how tough it is, how competitive it is. And what is awesome is I meet people just like her here in Poland, in print, on radio, on television, who are breaking stories, who are digging deep, who are carefully editing and honing theses to produce the most clarified position. And you have a true competition of ideas here in Poland. I respect that. And it’s something that we certainly embrace as a guest in this country, and as a special friend to Poland, and something that we’re certainly going to continue to observe closely.

Anna Piekarczyk, Radio Krakow: Much in Poland is said about Ambassador Brzezinski’s Polish heritage and sensitivities.  How do you perceive that?

Ambassador Brzezinski: Well, I just I would say, first of all, as a diplomat, I’m an American, and my country, of course, is America; that I am both Polish extraction and Polish heritage; and I grew up in a household where there was a particularly focused understanding of Poland, of the collision between democracy and totalitarianism during the Soviet era, and the rebirth of democracy in Poland. It was something that my brother, my sister, and I learned a lot about from my late father.  I remember well folks like Vaclav Havel, and Leszek Balcerowicz, and Janusz Onyszkiewicz, and Jan Nowak-Jezioranski, and so many others coming through to our house and meeting Lech Walesa. These are global heroes of Polish origin. There’s nothing more special than as a young person meeting someone that you’ve read a little bit about in the media, or seen on TV and you’re able to live that. And so coming here as US ambassador, I represent the American interest. But I think American interests and Polish interests are tremendously aligned now, and especially during this crisis.

Anna Piekarczyk, Radio Krakow: Thank you so much.