EUROPEAN ARMY OR FORT TRUMP? THE CASE OF POLISH PARTICIPATION IN HEADQUARTERS EUROCORPS IN THE ISSUE OF MULTINATIONAL MILITARY ECHELONS IN THE 21ST CENTURY
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As a NATO member since 1999 and an EU member since 2004, Poland contributed to several military endeavors of both organizations. Participating with the status of “Associated Nation” already since 2009, Poland applied to become a “Framework Nation” (FN) of Headquarters (HQ) Eurocorps in 2011, seeking to share greater responsibilities and enjoy equal prerogatives with the other five FNs (Belgium, Germany, Spain, France, and Luxembourg) by 2016/2017. Poland invested significant resources in the HQ and its support units. In December 2016, however, Poland declared on the working level, that it no longer sought FN status and would instead reduce its contribution. It confirmed this in an announcement on political level in 2017. Based on qualitative research, the case study presented examines Poland’s decision, which unfolded amid a discussion about the need for better defense capabilities to strengthen the European pillar of NATO and visions of building a European Army. Although Warsaw cited scarcity of resources as the official reason for the reversal, the author examines competing explanations, including renationalization and a shift in threat perception and in preferences for alliance relationships, which culminated in the proposal to build “Fort Trump” for a permanently stationed U.S. armored division in Poland, as the real trigger for the highly symbolic decision to reduce participation in HQ Eurocorps.
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