14:50 GMT +314 October 2019
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    President Duda (left), sitting here next to US President Barack Obama (center) and Russian President Vladimir Putin (right)

    Poles Jump for Joy Over Obama's Decision to Let Polish Prez Sit Beside Him

    © Photo : UN
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    Polish media have gone mad with excitement over the fact that Barack Obama decided to let President Andrzej Duda sit beside him during the US president's lunch with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the UN on Monday. Funnily enough, the majority of the Western media ignored Duda's presence, going so far as to cut him out of the frame.

    The country's media hailed the event a major success of Polish diplomacy. 

    Foreign Minister Grzegorz Schetyna triumphantly announced that having Duda sit at the table with Obama was not the work "of the last hours or days, but the result of many years of hard work."

    Commenting on the great victory, Law and Justice MP Zbigniew Girzynski reveled in the fact that "alongside President Obama was not Angela Merkel, Hollande, but only the president of Poland. This is not an accident."

    "There was that famous moment in the toast," Girzynski recalled, "when President Obama rather coldly clinked glasses with Vladimir Putin, as if to say to him: 'This guy, if you have something against this guy, I will pour this champagne all over you.'" 

    "This was really the success of the entirety of Polish diplomacy, of the current and previous governments," Girzynski added, appearing on TVN24 political talk show 'Dot the i's'.

    Speaking to daily newspaper Rzeczpospolita, Transatlantic Academy Executive Director Stephen Szabo emphasized that "Obama wanted to show Putin, who was sitting a few meters away, that the US will not leave the Poles in the face of the Kremlin's aggressive policy, and will not sell Poland in exchange for cooperation in Syria."

    Derek Chollet, senior security and defense policy at the German Marshal Fund and former Obama administration security policy advisor, told the newspaper that Obama was responsible for deciding who would sit to his right, adding that "this decision is made with extreme care." 

    The expert was quick to add that the decision had nothing to do with Poland's upcoming parliamentary elections, or the Obama administration's preferences about who might come to power following that election. Duda was the candidate from Law and Justice at this past May's presidential elections. The party will now square off against the Civic Platform party at parliamentary elections in October.

    Szabo noted that the decision to have the Polish president sitting next to him was "more important than it was six years ago, during the 'Reset' policy, which led the US to withdraw from Bush's plans to build an anti-missile shield in Poland."

    Interestingly, Sputnik actually had a hard time locating the famous photo which made headlines across Poland. It turns out that a majority of the international news media actually very rudely cropped the Polish president out of the frame.

    • President Duda (left), seen here next to President Barack Obama (center) and President Vladimir Putin (right). The original of the UN handout.
      President Duda (left), seen here next to President Barack Obama (center) and President Vladimir Putin (right). The original of the UN handout.
      © Photo : UN
    • The same photo, used by news outlets including AP, AFP and Reuters, with Duda cropped.
      The same photo, used by news agencies including AP and AFP, with Duda cropped.
      © AP Photo / Amanda Voisard
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    © Photo : UN
    President Duda (left), seen here next to President Barack Obama (center) and President Vladimir Putin (right). The original of the UN handout.

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    Tags:
    Poland, diplomatic victory, diplomacy, United Nations, Andrzej Duda, Vladimir Putin, Barack Obama, United States, Russia, UN headquarters in New York
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