chapter  8
The Poles: Western Aspirations, Eastern Minorities
ByTim Snyder
Pages 30

The predicament of the Polish diaspora reflects the travails of Polish statehood and the travels of Polish state boundaries. While "Polonia" is a time-tested construction designed to serve Warsaw's interests, "Poles in the east" constitute a new foreign policy problem for a newly sovereign Polish state. The basic argument will be that Poland's western identity and aspirations restrict its interest in its eastern minorities, while supplying its diplomats with tools to protect the diaspora in their dealings with post-Soviet republics. The years preceding the recognition of Lithuanian independence in 1991 saw a number of campaigns directed against Poles and Polish national identity. The question of the origin of the Polish minority in Lithuania and Belarus is hotly disputed, though these ethno-historical quarrels reveal more about the assumptions of their participants than they do about the national identity of eastern Poles.