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Radek Sikorski


Radek Sikorski

Radosław Sikorski
Minister of Foreign Affairs of Poland
11th Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Third Republic of Poland
Assumed office
16 November 2007
President Lech Kaczyński
Bronisław Komorowski
Prime Minister Donald Tusk
Preceded by Anna Fotyga
Minister of National Defense of Poland
10th Minister of National Defense of the Third Republic of Poland
In office
31 October 2005 – 7 February 2007
President Aleksander Kwaśniewski, Lech Kaczyński
Prime Minister Kazimierz Marcinkiewicz, Jarosław Kaczyński
Preceded by Jerzy Szmajdziński
Succeeded by Aleksander Szczygło
Member of Senate
In office
19 October 2005 – 4 November 2007
Personal details
Born (1963-02-23) 23 February 1963 (age 51)
Bydgoszcz, Poland
Political party Civic Platform (2007–)
Spouse(s) Anne Applebaum since 27 June 1992
Children Aleksander and Tadeusz
Alma mater Pembroke College, Oxford
Profession Journalist
Religion Roman Catholic

Radosław Tomasz Sikorski [raˈdɔswaf ɕiˈkɔrskʲi]Template:IPA audio link (born 23 February 1963 in Bydgoszcz), is a Polish politician and journalist. He has been Minister of Foreign Affairs in Donald Tusk's cabinet since 2007. He previously served as Deputy Minister of National Defense (1992) in Jan Olszewski's cabinet, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs (1998–2001) in Jerzy Buzek's cabinet and Minister of National Defense (2005–2007) in Kazimierz Marcinkiewicz and Jarosław Kaczyński's cabinets.


Sikorski chaired the student strike committee in Bydgoszcz in March 1981 while studying at the I Liceum Ogólnokształcące.[1] In June of 1981 he traveled to the United Kingdom to study English. After martial law was declared in December 1981, he was granted political asylum in Britain in 1982.[2] He studied Philosophy, Politics and Economics at Pembroke College, University of Oxford, where Zbigniew Pelczynski was one of his tutors.[3] During his time at Oxford, Sikorski was head of the Standing Committee of the debating society, the Oxford Union (where he organised debates on martial law), president of the Oxford University Polish Society, member of the Canning Club,[4] and was elected to the Bullingdon Club, a dining society that counted among its members current British Prime Minister David Cameron and current Mayor of London Boris Johnson.[5] In 1987, Sikorski was awarded British citizenship, which he renounced in 2006 as Minister of Defence of Poland.[6]


In the mid-1980s, Sikorski worked as a freelance journalist for publications such as The Spectator and The Observer. In 1986, he travelled to Afghanistan as a war correspondent for The Sunday Telegraph. He won the World Press Photo award in 1987 for a photograph of a family killed in a bombing by the Afghan Air Force.[7] In 1989, he became the chief foreign correspondent for the American magazine National Review, writing from Afghanistan and Angola. In 1990–91 he was the Sunday Telegraph's Warsaw correspondent.

From 1988 to 1992 he advised Rupert Murdoch on investing in Poland.

Sikorski returned to Poland in August 1989. He briefly served as deputy defence minister in the Jan Olszewski government in 1992. During this tenure, he initiated Poland's NATO entry ambitions and supported the removal of Soviet troops from Polish territory.

From 1998 to 2001 Sikorski served as deputy minister of foreign affairs in the Jerzy Buzek government. He oversaw the consular service and issues surrounding Polish citizens abroad. He was also responsible for Asia, Africa and Latin America and was Honorary Chairman of the Foundation for Assistance to Poles in the East.[8] In 1999, his campaign against the slander of Poland was boosted by the high-profile case of Ted Turner's public apology for a distasteful joke made during a speech in Washington.[9] Sikorski's appeal to Polish nationals with dual citizenship to use the passport of the country they were visiting caused some controversy among the Polish expatriate community.[10]

From 2002 to 2005 he was a resident fellow of the American Enterprise Institute in Washington, D.C. and executive director of the New Atlantic Initiative.[11] He was editor of the analytical publication European Outlook, and organised international conferences. He is a member of the Board of Advisors of the American Committees on Foreign Relations.[12]

Following this stint in the USA, Sikorski returned to Poland and was elected senator from his hometown of Bydgoszcz in 2005.[13] He joined Prime Minister Marcinkiewicz's government as Minister of National Defence the same year. He resigned on 5 February 2007 largely in protest against the activities of the chief of military intelligence Antoni Macierewicz.[14] Though never a member of the Law and Justice party, he served out the parliamentary term in the Law and Justice Senatorial Club. In the early parliamentary elections of 2007, he was elected to the Lower House (Sejm) with 117,291 votes.[15] He was sworn in as Minister of Foreign Affairs in Donald Tusk's government on 16 November 2007.[16] He joined the Civic Platform party and became a member of its national board in 2008.[17]

Under Sikorski, relations between Poland and Germany have significantly improved: Minister of Foreign Affairs Westerwelle's first foreign trip was to Warsaw, and the two ministers pioneered the international response to the 2010 Belarusian presidential election.[18] Relations with Russia have also improved: Sikorski visited Moscow in 2009 to enhance Polish-Russian cooperation; in 2010, President Medvedev and Foreign Minister Lavrov both visited Warsaw.[19] Sikorski has overseen a wide-ranging modernisation of the Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, transforming the internal organisational structure and infrastructure, introducing the use of new technologies, and carrying out a merger with Poland's European Integration Committee (UKIE).[20] On 20 August 2008, Sikorski signed a missile defence agreement with U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice over the objections of Russia.[21] The agreement came less than two weeks after the outbreak of the 2008 South Ossetian war in Georgia.[22] "Parchments and treaties are all very well," Sikorski said, "but we have a history in Poland of fighting alone and being left to our own devices by our allies."[22] Although the Obama administration later cancelled plans for a larger missile defence shield, Sikorski successfully negotiated hosting a battery of Patriot missiles and the presence, for the first time in history, of American troops on Polish territory.[18]

In March 2010, Sikorski took part in the Civic Platform Presidential primaries against the then Parliamentary Speaker Bronisław Komorowski, who went on to be elected President. Sikorski enjoys some of the highest approval and trust ratings among Polish politicians.[23]

There was much press speculation that Sikorski would be named secretary general of NATO, a position held by Jaap de Hoop Scheffer until July 2009.[24] In the event, NATO named Prime Minister of Denmark Anders Fogh Rasmussen, despite previous Turkish objections.[25]

At the depth of the European sovereign debt crisis in November 2011 Sikorski went to Berlin to "beg for German action", in commentator Barry Wood's later words. Europe, Wood paraphrased, stood at a precipice. "The greatest threat to Poland," Sikorski said per Wood, came not from Russia, but from "a collapse of the euro zone," of which Poland was not then yet a member. Sikorski labeled Germany as Europe’s "indispensable nation" and said it must lead in saving the euro. Wood, writing ten months later in October 2012, with the European currency at US$1.30 up from a low of US$1.20, saw Sikorski's 2011 trip and words as, in the time frame, a turning point. German chancellor Angela Merkel was visiting Greece when the column was published and, despite Athens protests to the visit, the "visit would have been unthinkable a year ago". He gave credit for the change in thinking partially and implicitly to Sikorski.[26]

Books published

Dust of the Saints, 1989 (the Polish translation, Prochy Świętych, was first published in 1990)

The Polish House: An Intimate History of Poland, 1998 (the American edition is titled Full Circle: A Homecoming to Free Poland)

Strefa Zdekomunizowana [Commie-free Zone], 2007

Awards and recognition

Personal life

Sikorski is married to American journalist and historian Anne Applebaum. They have two children, Aleksander and Tadeusz. Sikorski rebuilt a manor in Chobielin, where he and his family are now based. During his time in Britain, Sikorski dated for four years the acclaimed actress Olivia Williams, who played Ruth Lang in Roman Polański's The Ghost Writer.[35]


External links

  • Interview with Radosław Sikorski in PLUS Journal
  • Interview with Radosław Sikorski in Fletcher Forum of World Affairs
  • Fareed Zakaria interviews Polish Foreign Minister Radosław Sikorski to discuss NATO and the Russia-Georgia conflict on CNN.
  • NATO's Past, Present and Future Speech before the Chicago Council on Global Affairs
  • The Future of EU-Russia Relations, The New York Times
  • Why the World needs a New Start, The Guardian
  • Hard Talk Interview with Radosław Sikorski, YouTube
  • Radosław Sikorski on Morning Joe MSNBC, YouTube
  • Davos Annual Meeting 2010 – Rebuilding Peace and Stability in Afghanistan, YouTube
Political offices
Preceded by
János Martonyi
President of the Council of the European Union
Succeeded by
Villy Søvndal

Template:Kazimierz Marcinkiewicz Cabinet

Template:Second Donald Tusk Cabinet

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