127. Airgram From the Embassy in Poland to the Department of State1



  • A New Direction in Poland’s Policy Toward the U.S.


  • Warsaw 2366 and 23692

In political terms the decision of the Polish Government to agree to the zloty package and to a resumption of the Ford Program after a lapse of four years is an important augury for the future course of U.S.-Polish relations.3 The agreements are a milestone in that they signify a willingness by the Polish Government to permit some movement in our bilateral relations. In fact, the English language program, the key ingredient in the zloty agreement, and the Ford Exchange program open up the possibility for increasing the tempo of our relations. This prospect stands in contrast to the situation that has existed here in the past few years when U.S. efforts took on the character of a holding operation. We were mainly concerned with trying to prevent U.S.-Polish relations from freezing completely, as certain regime elements used Viet-Nam as a convenient excuse to immobilize bilateral relations.

For about a year the Polish leadership, with Gomulka the ultimate decision maker, had been weighing the pros and cons of the elements contained in the zloty package. The decision to go ahead was not an easy one; economic advantages had to be measured against the implications of giving the U.S. an opportunity to expand its influence in Poland. Economic considerations apparently won out. Even though the zloty package provides relatively small financial relief for Poland, the amount was nevertheless significant to a country hard pressed for dollars. Probably more important to the Poles was the precedent they saw created by this agreement. For the first time both countries agreed upon a mutually desirable project to be financed by the U.S. Government-owned zloties which were about to fall due for conversion into dollars. The Poles probably consider this a prelude to finding other mutually attractive projects which would also ease Poland’s indebtedness to the U.S.

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By agreeing to the zloty package and the Ford Program the Poles gave evidence that Viet-Nam does not completely bar improved bilateral relations. This implies a significant change inasmuch as the Poles have long insisted that Viet-Nam obstructs any significant development of bilateral contacts. It is remotely possible that familiarity with U.S. efforts to end the Viet-Nam war had a favorable impact on Polish decision makers. Undoubtedly, the view that Poland’s national interests would be better served by these agreements was the most powerful consideration.

Inherent in the Polish decision is an apparent willingness of the leadership to modify, or at least restrain, its suspicions and cynicism about U.S. purposes in Poland and to accept the zloty package as an example of a mutually beneficial agreement envisaged and achieved under the President’s bridge-building policy. It now behooves us to implement as fully and as quickly as possible the agreements concluded.

A possible result of Poland’s decision to conclude these recent agreements with the U.S. is the likelihood of an early appointment of a new Polish Ambassador to Poland to succeed the late Ambassador Drozniak who died last October. By acting as it did last week the Polish Government provides a favorable backdrop for the appointment of a new Polish Ambassador.4

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, POL 1 POL–US. Confidential. Drafted by Kaiser and approved by Jenkins on April 4.
  2. Telegram 2366 from Warsaw, March 31, reported on the resumption of Ford Foundation programs in Poland. (Ibid., EDX POL–US) Telegram 2369 from Warsaw, March 31, reported on discussions with the Poles regarding the terms of U.S. economic assistance. (Ibid., AID 15–8 POL)
  3. For text of the agreements, signed in Washington on April 10 and 11, 1967, see 19 UST 7788.
  4. Jerzy Michalowski replaced Drozniak, who died of a heart attack November 1, 1966, in Washington. Michalowski presented his credentials to President Johnson on September 12. Memoranda of their conversation are in Department of State, Central Files, POL 17 POL–US.