Andrzej Duda’s tour of Africa. Prof. Andrzej Polus: This is the real fight against Russia’s narrative | principle

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Jacek Gądek: – Why President Andrzej Duda’s tour of Nigeria, Ivory Coast and Senegal?

Prof. Andrzej Polus: – Africa With 1.3 billion people, Nigeria is the most populous country on the continent. That’s it Polish A president who has never visited Nigeria has never been a better testament to Polish diplomacy and says a lot about the low priority of relations with the Global South. Today, however, we have the first African tour of the Polish head of state, and I hope that relations with this region of the world will intensify.

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Why now?

From a diplomatic point of view, this is another – after Sergey Lavrov, Emmanuel Macron and Antony Blinken – tour of Africa by a politician in recent weeks. Mainly: the countries he visits Andrzej DudaDo not coincide with the arrival of Macron, Blinken and Lavrov.

Can you see coordination in the diplomatic offensive of France, America and Poland in Africa?

Exactly. Similarly, prior to this tour, Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki’s visit to Paris is not coincidental, but may be related to the president’s subsequent trip to Africa.

Poland has the ability to define itself only in the context of immediate foreign countries. In fact, although it is not, it can define itself very broadly. We need to be more active diplomatically in sub-Saharan Africa, Asia and South America. Polish networks of diplomatic missions must be reborn. Of course, we will never be like Great Britain or China, but we can play in the same league with Turkey or Brazil. The absence of a colonial past and good relations with sub-Saharan states before 1989 give us an untapped potential. We’ve even seen the opposite move: Minister Radoslaw Sikorski’s closing of Polish embassies in Africa was a diplomatic disaster. The embassies were closed under the slogan “End with Byzantium” – fortunately, now we are rebuilding some of them, but this is a task of many years.

Andrzej Duda’s visit can be received in different ways, but this tour will see him playing in the same league with Macron and Blinken – after all, their actions are coordinated, thus a Western world view, not a Russian one. , won in Africa.

Why so much diplomatic effort in Africa now? Maybe Russia has this African world at its throat that needs food, and the West wants to provide something?

Russia’s influence in Africa has been exaggerated – the Soviet Union’s was much greater. Nevertheless, Russia can effectively use arguments about Africa.

Is the threat of famine in Africa through the war in Ukraine one of the Kremlin’s tools to influence the countries of this continent?

In my opinion, yes. The Kremlin has turned food into a weapon to pressure African and Middle Eastern states. After the blockade of the Black Sea ports, President Putin hoped that the lack of supplies of wheat, corn or oil would lead to a wave of migration to the EU, which could divert attention from the situation in Ukraine. During his African tour, Sergei Lavrov made several attempts to convince sub-Saharan countries that it was the EU, not Russia, that blocked food supplies (this was particularly evident during his visit to Uganda).

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The real problem, for an entirely different discussion, lies elsewhere – the inability of many sub-Saharan African countries to self-feed, which creates dependence on the outside world. Simply put, sub-Saharan Africa produces what it does not consume and consumes what it does not produce.

What can Russia offer African countries?

Contracts for construction of nuclear power plants. The services of the Wagnerists come with a full range of services to the ruling elites in these African countries – with plans to run political campaigns (especially in Mali and Republic Central African). The Russian Federation canceled the African countries’ loans from the Soviet Union, but did not issue new loans. Russia also sells relatively cheap weapons.

Did Lavrov travel across Africa with such an offer?

Yes. On that occasion he lied. He argued that Russia was never a colonial power. He argued that the war in Ukraine was not a war against Ukrainians, but a war for a new world order – one in which African countries would be better off than the current one because it would not result from US hegemony. That’s why Lavrov called for support for the war, or at least neutrality. It’s the boss Ministry of Foreign Affairs Russia has practically forced a diplomatic counterattack by the West — Macron, Blinken and now Duda — with a counter-narrative about the war.

In Côte d’Ivoire, for example, Andrzej Duda pointed to “President Alassane Ouattara’s vast experience” and said he was counting on “a realistic view of the Russian attack on Ukraine.”

Because this is a real struggle at the level of political theory against the Russian narrative.

As I mentioned before, Lavrov says in every report to Africa that Russia has never been a colonial power – this is also not true, and although this colonialism is not abroad, the Kremlin is able to list many countries that have been colonized. As in the case of France or Great Britain. . Georgians, Azeris, Kazakhs and Poles have a lot to say about Russian colonialism. Russia was a colonial power, and it had colonial ambitions in Africa – backed by Tsarism, the Russians established a colony in the Horn of Africa – New Moscow. Because of our historical experience, Poland should be the country that reminds the world of that.

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Is there a chance for the western perspective to be embedded in African countries?

Yes, but it’s really a question of – which would be higher – a better world order. The current world order has brought enormous imbalances. Apart from the Asian Tigers, it is difficult to find concrete examples of postcolonial states that have changed their position in the international labor division. A just international order is essential today. The United Nations World Food Program cannot declare that more than 800 million people are threatened with starvation and cannot raise $22 billion to reach those in need.

In Nigeria Andrzej Duda spoke about two areas of cooperation: energy and food. Are these more relevant?

Poland is a potential buyer of hydrocarbons – oil and gas – and food exports to Nigeria. These are natural domains for business.

Oil and gas from Nigeria?

In Nigeria, a lot of gas is simply flared as it is considered a by-product of oil production. This gas is not liquefied and exported at LNG terminals because there is insufficient processing capacity. On the other hand, in Senegal, where Tuda also visits, the gas project is in its early stages as promising gas deposits have been discovered there. In East Africa, namely Mozambique and Tanzania, there are gas projects where Polish business can also be involved. And it’s worth it, because it’s an area that could quickly become the most dynamic in the world over the next 20 years.

Poland has a certain advantage over other countries. I remind you that during his visit to South Africa, Antony Blinken was very clearly advised by Foreign Minister Naledi Bondar not to use a directive tone. He heard that the West had a policy of threatening African countries and wanted to teach them what to do to keep them independent. It’s a sign that attracting attention like the Chinese leader seems unthinkable. Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Do African leaders have expectations of the Polish president?

Cote d’Ivoire’s President Alassane Ouattara, but the perspective of other sub-Saharan countries, stressed during a meeting with the Polish president that much has been said about Ukraine, but not much time has been devoted to the ongoing conflicts. In Africa. It seems that the Polish president, who will be speaking at the UN General Assembly soon, wanted the world to express his opinion on the problems of this part of the world.

What specific things will Duda bring from this tour?

We will settle it with a memorandum signed there. And after completing them. There is already an announcement by the Economic Forum of Poland with Ivory Coast of 26 million, which is a good initiative.

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In Nigeria, an agreement on cooperation in the food and processing sector has already been signed. Perhaps we have forgotten it, but Poland is a giant in food production, and Nigeria is a giant food market: more than 200 million people, including the city of Lagos, with more than 20 million people. After war broke out beyond our eastern border, Russia was closing in, forcing us to diversify our sales markets. So we better look for new markets and the Nigerian direction is promising.

Entering such a market with a population of 200 million can be difficult. Is it true?

Political support is very important in relations with sub-Saharan Africa, particularly with Nigeria. President Duda arrived with a business delegation and signed a memorandum with Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari, a sign that Nigerian authorities have allowed Nigerian businessmen to discuss food trade with the Poles. This is a necessary step for the growth of this business. On the other hand, authorities in Nigeria and other countries in the region are looking for political support to address humanitarian crises.

Let’s turn to gas from Africa. Is it true to buy from there?

The problem of gas exports from African countries is far-reaching and is the result of greed and short-term profit-seeking by companies that extract raw materials. Nigeria, Tanzania and Mozambique are rich in gas, but there are no LNG terminals capable of making this gas widely available on the global market. If the LNG terminals planned for several years are built in Tanzania and Mozambique, and if Nigeria is connected to Europe via a gas pipeline through the Sahara (the project has been in place for 40 years), the situation in the gas market will be completely different. Different.

Is there gas, but no way to export it because expensive infrastructure needs to be built?

Exactly. There is only one floating gas liquefaction terminal in the region. As a result, mass of extracted Nigerian gas is flared as a side effect of oil extraction, although it can be liquefied and exported to the European market. Developing gas projects requires years and billions of dollars in infrastructure investment. Not months.

African countries do not have the money for such investments, so they have to partner with Western companies. My field research shows that cooperation is a problem. One of the energy companies directly told me that they will not build two LNG terminals – in Mozambique and Tanzania – despite such demand, gas prices in international markets will fall, and they are worried about high prices.

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