Radosław Sikorski

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Radosław Sikorski
Radosław Sikorski Kancelaria Senatu 2005.JPG
Marshal of the Sejm
In office
24 September 2014 – 23 June 2015
President Bronisław Komorowski
Preceded by Ewa Kopacz
Succeeded by Małgorzata Kidawa-Błońska
Minister of Foreign Affairs
In office
16 November 2007 – 22 September 2014
Prime Minister Donald Tusk
Preceded by Anna Fotyga
Succeeded by Grzegorz Schetyna
Minister of National Defence
In office
31 October 2005 – 7 February 2007
Prime Minister Kazimierz Marcinkiewicz
Jarosław Kaczyński
Preceded by Jerzy Szmajdziński
Succeeded by Aleksander Szczygło
Personal details
Born Radosław Tomasz Sikorski
(1963-02-23) 23 February 1963 (age 55)
Bydgoszcz, Poland
Political party Civic Platform
Spouse(s) Anne Applebaum (1992–present)
Children Aleksander
Alma mater Pembroke College, Oxford
Religion Roman Catholicism
Radosław Sikorski meets U.S. Secretary Hillary Clinton.

Radosław Tomasz "Radek" Sikorski ([raˈdɔswaf ɕiˈkɔrskʲi]; born 23 February 1963) is a Polish politician and journalist. He was Marshal of the Sejm from 2014 to 2015 and Minister of Foreign Affairs in Donald Tusk's cabinet between 2007 and 2014. He previously served as Deputy Minister of National Defence (1992) in Jan Olszewski's cabinet, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs (1998–2001) in Jerzy Buzek's cabinet and Minister of National Defence (2005–2007) in Kazimierz Marcinkiewicz and Jarosław Kaczyński's cabinets.

Early life and education

Sikorski was born in Bydgoszcz. He chaired the student strike committee in Bydgoszcz in March 1981 while studying at the I Liceum Ogólnokształcące (High School).[1] In June 1981 he travelled 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 Pełczyński 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 the current British Prime Minister, David Cameron, and the current Mayor of London, Boris Johnson.[5]

In 1987, Sikorski was awarded British citizenship, which he renounced in 2006 on becoming 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. He also wrote for the Indian newspaper The Statesman. In 1986, he travelled to Afghanistan to aid the mujahideen against the Soviet Union, while a war correspondent for The Sunday Telegraph.[7] He won the World Press Photo award in 1988 for a photograph of a family killed in a bombing by the Afghan Air Force.[8] 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.

Deputy minister in Olszewski and Buzek governments

Sikorski returned to Poland in August 1989. He briefly served as deputy defence minister in the Jan Olszewski government in 1992.

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.[9] In 1999 he protested publicly against Ted Turner's use of a joke demeaning Poles during a speech in Washington; Turner subsequently apologized.[10] 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.[11]

In the United States

From 2002 to 2005, Sikorski was a resident fellow of the American Enterprise Institute in Washington, D.C., and executive director of the New Atlantic Initiative.[12] 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.[13]


Following this stint in the USA, Sikorski returned to Poland and was elected senator from his home town of Bydgoszcz in 2005.[14] 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.[15] 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.[16]

Minister of Foreign Affairs

Radosław Sikorski, Donald Tusk, Lech Kaczyński and Bronisław Komorowski in 2008

He was sworn in as Minister of Foreign Affairs in Donald Tusk's government on 16 November 2007.[17] He joined the Civic Platform party and became a member of its national board in 2008.[18]

Sikorski visited Moscow in 2009 to enhance Polish-Russian cooperation; in 2010, President Medvedev and his Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov, both visited Warsaw.[19] On 20 August 2008 Sikorski, following the President of Poland Lech Kaczynski's doctrine and will, signed a missile defense agreement with the U.S. Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, over the objections of Russia.[20] The agreement came less than two weeks after the outbreak of the 2008 South Ossetian war in Georgia.[21] However the Obama administration later (on 17 September 2009) cancelled plans for a larger missile defence shield.

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. At that time, Sikorski enjoyed some of the highest approval and trust ratings among Polish politicians.[22]

There was the Polish press speculation that Sikorski may be considered as a candidate for the position of the secretary general of NATO, which was held by Jaap de Hoop Scheffer until July 2009.[23] In the event, NATO named the Prime Minister of Denmark, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, despite previous Turkish objections.[24]

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 labelled 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. The 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.[25]

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Radosław Sikorski in Washington, DC

Sikorski was involved in the events of the winter 2014 Ukraine Euromaidan protests at the international level. He signed on 21 February along with Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich and opposition leaders Vitaly Klitchko, Arseniy Yatsenyuk, and Oleg Tyagnibok as well as the Foreign Ministers of Russia, France and Germany a memorandum of understanding to promote peaceful changes in Ukrainian power.[26] The next day Yanukovich fled Kiev.[citation needed]

In June 2014, Wprost magazine in Poland published transcripts of a secretly-taped conversation between Sikorski and the former Polish finance minister Jacek Rostowski in which Sikorski criticised British Prime Minister David Cameron and his handling of the EU to appease Eurosceptics in very derogatory terms.[27][28][29] Sikorski did not deny the remarks attributed to him. The recordings were believed to have been made in one or more restaurants in the Polish capital, Warsaw, and recorded sometime between summer 2013 and spring 2014.[28][27] In other leaked conversations Sikorski was reported to have said: "The Polish-American alliance isn’t worth anything. It is even harmful because it creates a false sense of security for Poland".[30] He continued and said: "We will get a conflict with both Russians and Germans, and we’re going to think that everything is great, because we gave the Americans a blowjob. Suckers. Total suckers,". He also described the mentality of Poles as "thinking ‘like a negro.’"[31][32] Details of politicians enjoying expensive meals, more than the minimum monthly salary in Poland, paid for with taxpayers' money angered Poles.[33]

In 2014, Sikorski labeled pro-Russian separatists as "terrorists".[34] He also said: "Remember that on that Russian-Ukrainian border, people’s identities are not as strong as we are used to in Europe. ... They reflect Ukraine’s failure over the last 20 years and Ukraine’s stagnant standards of living. You know, when you are a Ukrainian miner or soldier, and you earn half or a third of what your colleagues just across the border in Russia earn, that questions your identity."[35] According to Spiegel Online: "... [Sikorski] hopes that NATO and the EU will finally take off the kid gloves in their dealings with Russian President Vladimir Putin. He wants to see the West stand up to Moscow and, if necessary, threaten the Russians militarily."[36]

European Union foreign policy campaign

Map of the EU 28: Eastern Partnership in 2013

Sikorski, together with Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt, was one of the main architects of the Eastern policy of the EU.[37]

On 19 February 2014, Sikorski was requested by the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Catherine Ashton, to begin a diplomatic mission in Kiev.[38] On 16 July, shortly after publicly accusing Russia of strengthening support for separatist rebels in Ukraine and a Ukrainian military transport plane shootdown, and shortly before an EU summit on whether to impose sanctions on Russia, Sikorski flew to Kiev to meet with Ukraine's Foreign Minister, Pavlo Klimkin.[39][40]

On 1 August 2014, Donald Tusk nominated Sikorski in the race for the High Representative. Sikorski has been a strong supporter for sanctions against Russia, in contrast to his top opponent to the position, at the time Italy's Foreign Minister and subsequently the winner of the race, Federica Mogherini. The issue has been a key point of conflict within the EU.[41]

On 3 August, Sikorski told CNN's Fareed Zakaria that the Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 crash had helped bring European leaders together against Russia. He noted the sanctions will cause economic "losses all around" for Poland, but that Europe cannot "stand idly by when Russia annexes, for the first time since the Second World War, a neighbor's first province. And now supplying sophisticated weaponry to the separatists." He repeated this sentiment when asked whether he wants more NATO troops in Poland, after answering "Yes, we do and we want prepositioning of equipment. We want standing defense plans. We want bigger response forces."[42]

On 30 August, the EU chose Mogherini to replace Ashton. Sikorski's nominator, Donald Tusk, was appointed President of the European Council the same day.[43]

When later questioned on the appointment's significance, Sikorski called it "undoubtedly the prime minister’s personal success but equally a success of Poland. We take this decision as both a signal of appreciation of the policies Poland has pursued over ten years of its EU membership and a sign that the distinctions between 'old' and 'new' member states are rapidly crumbling. On the 10th anniversary of Poland’s accession to the EU, a Pole will lead the institution which sets the priorities of Europe."[44]

One such priority, according to Sikorski, is "a well interconnected network of energy infrastructure and more efficient security of supply mechanisms."[44] He backed Tusk's proposed pan-European "Energy Union" plan.[45]

In September 2015, after leaving office, Sikorski visited Kiev, arguing that if Russia move further into Ukraine, the EU should provide weapons to Ukraine.[46]

Marshal of the Sejm

On 24 September 2014, Sikorski was elected Marshal of the Sejm. After a stunning defeat of the president and former Civic Platform member Bronisław Komorowski in a re-election, Sikorski announced his resignation from the post on 10 June 2015 amid the growing scandal of the leaked tapes of conversations that had become public in 2014.[33] On 23 June 2015 he officially resigned.


Polish press have claimed that Sikorski illegally used Polish Secret Service (BOR) agents to bring him a pizza to his private residence. The Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk and a government spokeswoman spoke publicly about this incident.[1].

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 (born 1997) and Tadeusz (2000). Sikorski rebuilt a manor in Chobielin, where he and his family now live. During his early sojourn in Britain, Sikorski dated the actress Olivia Williams, who decades later would attend his 50th birthday party.[54]

See also


  1. Radek Sikorski personal website<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. Blair, David (25 January 2009). "Nato has 'no will' to admit Georgia or Ukraine". The Daily Telegraph. London.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. "Report" (PDF). Rhodes House. Retrieved 8 September 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. http://www.zyleta.net16.net/Zyla_Rados%C5%82aw_Sikorskions.php[dead link]
  5. Thornhill, John; Cienski, Jan (23 May 2014). "Radoslaw Sikorski in the hot seat". ft.com. Retrieved 28 May 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. "Sikorski proves he renounced British citizenship".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. Odone, Cristina (10 March 2014). "'We cannot let Putin get away with this,' says Polish minister". Telegraph.co.uk. London.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. "1987, Radek Sikorski, 1st prize, Spot News". worldpressphoto.org.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. "Radek Sikorski English CV" (PDF).<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. "World: Europe – Ted Turner says sorry". BBC News. 21 February 1999. Retrieved 2014-12-10.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. Rzeczpospolita, Spór o wizy i paszporty, 19 November 2003
  12. New Atlantic Initiative<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  13. "The American Committees on Foreign Relations: Board of Advisors".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  14. "Election results".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  15. "Sikorski: Macierewicz the reason for my departure".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  16. "Election results".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  17. "Tusk government sworn in".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  18. "New Members of the National Board".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  19. "Poland and Russian Presidents hail improvement in bilateral relations".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  20. "US and Poland seal missile deal". BBC News. 20 August 2008.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  21. Kulish, Nicholas (21 August 2008). "Eyeing Georgia, Poland Expresses Worry". New York Times. Retrieved 21 August 2008.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  22. "TNS OBOP: Sikorski ahead of Tusk".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  23. Castle, Stephen (26 December 2008). "NATO awaits new leadership". International Herald Tribune.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  24. "Strasbourg summit: Rasmussen named next NATO secretary general". Welt Online English News. Die Welt. 4 April 2009. Retrieved 14 April 2009. NATO named Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen as its next leader on Saturday after overcoming Turkish resistance to his appointment. The deadlock in the decision process, brought on by Turkey's protests, had threatened the image of unity NATO wanted to display on its 60th anniversary.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  25. Wood, Barry, "Battered but intact, the euro mounts a comeback", MarketWatch, 9 October 2012. Wood is the international economics correspondent for RTHK in Hong Kong. Retrieved 2012-10-09.
  26. "Ukraine crisis: deal signed in effort to end Kiev standoff". The Guardian. 21 February 2014
  27. 27.0 27.1 Oltermann, Philip and Traynor, I., Watt, N. (June 2014). "Polish MPs ridicule Cameron's 'stupid propaganda' aimed at Eurosceptics", The Guardian, 23 June 2014, Accessed 26 June 2014
  28. 28.0 28.1 BBC News (June 2014). "Poland leak: PM Tusk faces questions in parliament", BBC News, 24 June 2014. Accessed 28 July 2014.
  29. Easton, Adam (June 2014). "Poland bugging: The table talk that shook Warsaw", BBC News, 25 June 2014. Accessed 28 July 2014.
  30. Gera, Vanessa; Scislowska, Monika (23 June 2014). "Report: Polish minister calls U.S. ties worthless". www.militarytimes.com. The Associated Press. Retrieved 23 June 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  31. "Polish Foreign Minister: We Gave The US A "Blowjob," Got Nothing". BuzzFeed, Inc. 23 June 2014. Retrieved 1 August 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  32. Blake, Matthew (23 June 2014). "Polish foreign minister 'caught on tape dismissing relationship with U.S. as he compares it to giving oral sex and getting nothing in return'". London: ninemsn. Retrieved 1 August 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  33. 33.0 33.1 Michael E. Miller: Secret recordings, posh restaurants and intrigue finally catch up to Polish government. In: The Washington Post, 11 June 2015.
  34. "Sikorsky: Foreign subversion of Ukraine leads to tragedy". Kyiv Post. 3 May 2014.
  35. "Talking with Poland’s foreign minister about the Ukraine crisis and Russia’s next moves". The Washington Post. 18 April 2014
  36. "Mr. Perfect from Warsaw: The Rise of Poland's Foreign Minister". Spiegel Online. 30 May 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  37. "Playing East against West: The success of the Eastern Partnership depends on Ukraine". The Economist. 23 November 2013.
  38. "Polish FM Sikorski to start diplomatic mission in Ukraine at EU request", by Voice of Russia
  39. "Foreign minister flies to Ukraine amid Russian troop build up fears". Polskie Radio dla Zagranicy.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  40. "Kiev calls for decisive EU action". Polskie Radio dla Zagranicy.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  41. "Amid Russia crisis, Italy and Poland compete for position of new EU foreign policy chief", by Juergen Baetz, The Associated Press
  42. "Polish FM Sikorski on Russian sanctions". cnn.com. 3 August 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  43. "Polish PM Donald Tusk chosen as new EU council head". ITV News.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  44. 44.0 44.1 "Sikorski: If Poland is hawkish on Ukraine, is Russia a dove?". EurActiv – EU News & policy debates, across languages.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  45. Patrick Donahue (22 April 2014). "Poland's Tusk Proposes Energy Union to Break Russian Hold on Gas". Bloomberg.com.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  46. John Lloyd (14 September 2015). "Europeans 'not grasping' the importance of Ukraine". Reuters. Retrieved 22 September 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  47. "Minister of Defence Radosław Sikorski named 'Person of the Year' by Gazeta Polska".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  48. "Sikorski, Rubik and Lis winners at the Wiktor 2006 awards".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  49. "Minister of Foreign Affairs Radosław Sikorski".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  50. "Minister of Foreign Affairs of Poland, Radosław Sikorski, visits Lithuania".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  51. "Appointments to the National Order of Merit" (PDF).<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  52. "President of the Union of Poles in Lithuania Michal Mackiewicz Visits Poland".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  53. "Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Poland, Radosław Sikorski – Biography".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  54. "Mr. Perfect from Warsaw: The Rise of Poland's Foreign Minister". Spiegel.de. 30 May 2014. Retrieved 30 May 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links

Political offices
Preceded by
Jerzy Szmajdziński
Minister of National Defence
Succeeded by
Aleksander Szczygło
Preceded by
Anna Fotyga
Minister of Foreign Affairs
Succeeded by
Grzegorz Schetyna
Preceded by
Ewa Kopacz
Marshal of the Sejm
Succeeded by
Małgorzata Kidawa-Błońska
Diplomatic posts
Preceded by
János Martonyi
President of the Council of the European Union
Succeeded by
Villy Søvndal