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The Warsaw Voice » Politics » June 30, 2011
Politics & Society
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German Marshall Fund Opens Warsaw Office
June 30, 2011   
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The German Marshall Fund, a premier American think tank, opened a new office in Warsaw May 27. The Warsaw office is led by Prof. Andrew A. Michta, a Polish-born American academic. The staff are being hired locally. A dedication ceremony was attended by President Bronisław Komorowski, GMF President Craig Kennedy and officials from Poland and the United States. It was followed by an opening conference on transatlantic relations attended by Polish Foreign Minister Radosław Sikorski, Defense Minister Bogdan Klich and the U.S. ambassador to Poland, Lee Feinstein.

Andrew A. Michta, Senior Transatlantic Fellow with the German Marshall Fund and director of its Warsaw office, talks to The Warsaw Voice.

What is the GMF? What are its goals?
The German Marshall Fund of the United States (GMF) is a prominent non-partisan American public policy and grant-making institution dedicated to promoting better understanding and cooperation between North America and Europe on transatlantic and global issues. GMF does this by supporting individuals and institutions working in the transatlantic sphere, by convening leaders and members of the policy and business communities, by contributing research and analysis on transatlantic topics, and by providing exchange opportunities to foster renewed commitment to the transatlantic relationship. In addition, GMF supports a number of initiatives to assist countries that are transitioning to democratic governance and to facilitate the process of democratic consolidation.

Founded in 1972 through a gift from Germany as a permanent memorial to the Marshall Plan, GMF maintains a strong presence on both sides of the Atlantic. In addition to its headquarters in Washington, DC, GMF has offices in Europe: in Berlin, Paris, Brussels, Belgrade, Ankara, Bucharest, and now Warsaw. GMF also has smaller representations in Bratislava, Turin, and Stockholm.

Why open an office in Warsaw?
GMF has a long history of engagement with Poland, including grants to Polish organizations since 1990 and the participation of many distinguished Poles in GMF’s Marshall Memorial Fellowship Program [...]
We see Poland as a dynamic country and a leader in the region. We have been thinking of opening an office here for some time, and decided that now is the right time to do it.

What are the office’s objectives?
The mission of the GMF Warsaw office is to serve as a forum and source of ideas for strengthening transatlantic cooperation, with particular focus on issues critical to Poland and Central Europe. Its program agenda will focus on U.S.-European relations, Central and Eastern Europe, transatlantic security issues, the EU’s Eastern Partnership, and energy. We hope to work closely with Polish think tanks, NGOs, and individual analysts to focus on those priority areas. Poland has a lot of experience to share when it comes to democracy promotion and working with civil society groups. These are important lessons that are applicable, not just in Europe, but in other parts of the world. We believe that this expertise is highly relevant today, especially when one looks at change under way in North Africa, for example. We really look forward working with our Polish friends in those areas.

Could you comment on U.S. President Barack Obama’s recent visit to Warsaw?
This was a good visit, in terms of its symbolism—the U.S. president coming to Poland highlighted the importance of U.S.-Polish relations and our close cooperation. But also, there are a number of practical issues to address in terms of current and future cooperation, from shale gas through Eastern policy to traditional security cooperation, such as the periodic stationing and training of U.S. F-16s and transports on Polish territory. To me the most important aspect of this visit was its practical aspect: the United States working with an important European ally. And the fact that on this trip President Obama decided to visit Warsaw underscores that this administration values Poland’s role in transatlantic relations. As you may recall, last December GMF hosted President Komorowski during his visit to Washington, so we were delighted to see President Obama coming to Warsaw, especially when we were opening our office here.

In 2005-09 Andrew A. Michta was Professor of National Security Studies and Director of Studies of the Senior Executive Seminar at the George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies in Germany. He is a Member of the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London. Previously he was a Visiting Scholar at the Hoover Institution on War, Revolution and Peace at Stanford University and a Research Associate at the Institute for European, Russian and Eurasian Studies, The George Washington University.

Professor Michta is the author of several books on NATO, European politics, security and transatlantic relations.

He has lectured at universities in the U.S. and Europe, and is a frequent consultant to the U.S. government and the media.
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