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The United States

Diplomatic relations between Poland and the United States were established on 2nd May 1919.

Political cooperation

Historical view 

In 2019 we celebrate the 100th anniversary of establishing diplomatic relations between Poland and the United States. America played an important role in Poland regaining independence following World War I, and in 1919 the United States became the first major power to recognize Polish statehood.

World War I presented an opportunity for Poland to regain her independence after over a century of foreign occupation. During the war, prominent Polish figures such as Ignacy Jan Paderewski and Henryk Sienkiewicz traveled to the United States to promote the cause of Polish statehood. Many Polish Americans volunteered to go to Europe and fight for Poland’s sovereignty, the most famous example of which is Haller’s Blue Army. Formed under the command of General Józef Haller, it was joined by over 20,000 Polish Americans.

In large part inspired by Paderewski, U.S. President Woodrow Wilson was a strong supporter of Poland's restoration. For example, in his “Peace without Victory” speech on January 22, 1917 President Wilson presented Polish independence as a justified war aim. On January 8, 1918 President Wilson announced his famous “Fourteen Points” before a joint session of Congress, with Point 13 declaring that:

“An independent Polish state should be erected which should include the territories inhabited by indisputably Polish populations, which should be assured a free and secure access to the sea, and whose political and economic independence and territorial integrity should be guaranteed by international covenant.”

After Polish statehood was reestablished in the aftermath of the Great War, Poland was recognized by the United States de jure on January 22, 1919. That May, American and Polish missions opened respectively in Warsaw and Washington. The day the first American envoy in Warsaw Hugh Gibson presented his credentials (May 2, 1919) is considered the formal date of establishing diplomatic relations between Poland and the United States.

The close ties between Poland and America continued in the years immediately following. For example, in 1919 eleven American aviators – Elliot Chess, Carl Clark, Merian Cooper, Edward Corsi, George Crawford, Cedric Fauntleroy, Edmund Graves, Arthur Kelly, Edwin Noble, Harmon Rorison and Kenneth Shrewsbury – formed the “Kosciuszko Squadron” and volunteered to help Poland in its defense against the invading Bolsheviks. The Americans fought alongside the Polish army, including during the decisive Battle of Warsaw.

As the Director of the American Relief Administration, Herbert Hoover organized American relief efforts in Poland during a time of widespread hunger. The future U.S. president was instrumental in providing food, clothing and medicine for hundreds of thousands of people in need. In 1922 the Polish Sejm (parliament) made Herbert Hoover an honorary Polish citizen.

For the 150th anniversary of American independence in 1926, people across Poland prepared the “Polish Declarations of Admiration and Friendship for the United States.” A collection of signatures, notes, original artwork and photographs in 111 volumes, it was signed by Poland’s president and about 5.5 million other Polish citizens. The “Declarations” were presented to President Calvin Coolidge at the White House on October 14, 1926.

The spirit of friendship of those early years continues today. From cooperation within NATO to economic and political relations, Poland and the United States continue to be key partners and allies.

Political cooperation after 1989

Following the democratic reforms in Poland begun in 1989, Poland and the United States have been linked by close, friendly relations. Bilateral political cooperation is carried out in complementary spheres: political dialogue, security and defense as well as promotion of democratic reforms around the world. The United States strongly supported Poland’s accession to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) in 1999, and Poland subsequently made significant contributions to U.S. and NATO-led military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. The main factors influencing Polish-American cooperation in recent years are, on the one hand, reevaluations in foreign policy, security and defense by the United States, and on the other, changes in the security situation in Central and Eastern Europe and Poland’s growing position in the European Union. A key factor encouraging the development of mutual relations and cooperation is the American Polonia community, which numbers 9.6 million.  Relations between Poland and the United States – a key NATO ally – are a strategic partnership. High-level political dialogue is developing with success, examples of which include: U.S. President Donald Trump’s visit in Warsaw in July 2017, Polish President Andrzej Duda’s visit in Washington, D.C. in September 2018 and June 2019, and a number of other meetings such as the visit of Vice President Michael Pence and Secretary of State Michael Pompeo to Poland in February 2019.  The further development of bilateral cooperation was outlined in the declaration “Safeguarding freedom, building prosperity through Poland-U.S. Strategic Partnership,” signed in September 2018 by the Presidents of Poland and the United States. It expanded possibilities for U.S. Administration support for the realization of Polish security goals, including strengthening U.S. military presence in Poland, cooperation in the energy sector and expanding trade and mutual investment.  The most important element of recent political dialogue was the visit of the President of the Republic of Poland to Washington, D.C. in June 2019. This visit included the signing of the “Joint Declaration on Defense Cooperation Regarding U.S. Force Posture in the Republic of Poland” as well as an intergovernmental agreement on strengthening cooperation to prevent and combat serious crime, an intergovernmental agreement on strategic cooperation on nuclear energy for civil purposes, and a contract between the companies PGNiG and Venture Global LNG for the supply of liquefied natural gas.  The strategic partnership between Poland and the United States is an important element of the transatlantic community. We believe that maintaining strong transatlantic ties is in the interests of everyone, on both sides of the Atlantic. Poland is a strong advocate of dialogue in cases of differing positions among partners in the transatlantic community resulting from different conditions, assessments or experiences.  Security and Defense Cooperation  Cooperation in the field of security and defense is the foundation of Polish-American relations. Poland’s priorities include: expanding the presence of American forces in our country as part of strengthening NATO’s eastern flank, joint security and defense projects such as the installation of an American missile defense system in Redzikowo, and cooperation between the air forces of both countries.  The “Joint Declaration on Defense Cooperation Regarding U.S. Force Posture in the Republic of Poland,” signed by the Presidents of both countries in June 2019 in Washington, D.C., reaffirmed allied commitments found in Articles 3 and 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty. It also announced the increasing of America’s enduring military presence by about 1000 additional soldiers. Currently there are about 4500 rotational American military personnel in Poland. According to the signed declaration, in Poland there will be established: 1) a U.S. Division Headquarters (Forward), 2) a Combat Training Center (CTC) in Drawsko Pomorskie and eventually in a few other locations in Poland, 3) an unmanned U.S. Air Force MQ-9 squadron, 4) an aerial port of debarkation to support the movement of forces for training or contingency, 5) a support group to support current and future U.S. forces in Poland, 6) U.S. special operations forces capability to support air, ground and maritime operations, 7) infrastructure to support the presence of an armored brigade combat team, a combat aviation brigade and a combat sustainment support battalion in Poland.  Cooperation on the Promotion of Democracy  Founded in 2000, the Community of Democracies (CoD) has become an important forum for Polish-American cooperation, especially with regard to democratization in Poland’s eastern neighbors. As part of the CoD initiative Democracy Partnership Challenge, Poland and the U.S. are co-chairs of the Moldova Task Force, supporting democratic reforms in this country. The events of the “Arab Spring” inspired joint efforts to support systemic changes in the countries of North Africa (such as the Tunisia Mentorship Initiative – preparing a list of experts and organizations and creating online platforms for sharing experiences of transformation).  Other Areas of Cooperation  An important topic in bilateral relations is the question of lifting visa requirements for Polish citizens traveling to the United States. The main formal obstacle to Poland joining the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) is the percentage of visa rejections (3% threshold), which in recent years has been: 2014 – 6.4%, 2015 – 6.37 %, 2016 – 5.3%, 2017 – 5.92% and 2018 – 3.99%. The process of Poland joining the Visa Waiver Program can begin once the percentage of rejections falls below 3%. Efforts for Poland joining the VWP are joined by initiatives to deepen Polish-American cooperation in the field of combating terrorist threats and criminal activity. On June 12, 2019 representatives of the Polish Ministry of the Interior and Administration and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security signed the Agreement on Preventing and Combating Serious Crime (PCSC). 

Economic cooperation

Poland and the United States are linked by robust economic relations. While Polish and American statistical data essentially differ from each other, in both cases dynamic growth in trade cooperation in recent years is clear. According to data from GUS, bilateral exchange of goods valued 14.9 billion USD in 2018, meaning that in the last two years trade in goods between Poland and the U.S. has increased by almost 43%. Polish exports to the United States amounted to nearly 7.3 billion USD, and imports from the U.S. – over 7.6 billion USD. According to American data, trade in goods with Poland in 2018 reached almost 13.5 billion USD, an increase of 40% from 2016. American exports to Poland valued 5.4 billion USD, and imports from Poland over 8 billion USD. Poland’s exports to and imports from the U.S. are dominated by highly-processed industrial goods, mainly machines and equipment as well as vehicles. Agricultural and food products account for 8.5% of Poland’s exports to the United States and 5.6% of imports from the U.S. The USA is Poland’s 9th largest trade partner and its 3rd largest outside the European Union (after China and Russia). Poland is the United States’ 40th largest trade partner in terms of value of turnover in goods. Mutual investments play an important role in Poland-U.S. bilateral relations. According to data from NBP for 2017, the cumulative value of American investments in Poland reached 5.7 million USD, making the United States the most important source of foreign investments to Poland outside the European Union. American investors are in virtually all of the most important sectors of Poland’s economy. Data from the American Chamber of Commerce point to significantly greater engagement of U.S. capital in our country, exceeding 30 billion USD. This difference results in part from the fact that some American companies invest through their branches in other European countries. Polish investments in the United States are growing dynamically and in 2017 reached a value of over 800 million USD. Cooperation in the energy sector is also significant. The United States supports Poland in its efforts to diversify sources of energy supplies, especially gas. In recent years Poland has signed a number of major contracts for the purchase of American LNG, whose supply will increase after 2022. Increased cooperation in the field of nuclear energy is also planned. 

Bureau of Economic Analysis
Bureau of Labor Statistics
U.S. Census Bureau
United States Department of Commerce
United States Department of Energy                                                              

Cultural cooperation

The United States is a melting pot of cultures, languages and traditions of the countries where its citizens come from, and Polish culture is an enduring part of America. Alongside building political and economic cooperation, the mission of the Polish Embassy in Washington, DC is promoting knowledge among the American public of present-day Poland and Poland’s cultural achievements, whose richness can interest and inspire Americans and improve understanding of Polish goals and ambitions. We work to familiarize the American public with the latest trends in Polish literature, music, visual arts, cinematography and theater. We present the exceptional work of Poles such as Fryderyk Chopin, Tadeusz Kantor, Andrzej Wajda and Magdalena Abakanowicz and their influence on American and world culture. We also educate on Polish history and its impact on other societies, including the United States. We promote the memory of Poles who helped build America, such as Thaddeus Kosciuszko and Casimir Pulaski, as well as those who played a significant role in our transatlantic relations during the 20th century – Ignacy Jan Paderewski, John Paul II, General Edward Rowny and Zbigniew Brzezinski.  Our Embassy works with leading cultural institutions in the Washington area such as the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and the National Philharmonic at Strathmore to promote Polish music. Since 2016 we have led the CinePOLSKA film series in cooperation with the Avalon Theatre, the oldest movie theater in Washington, DC. The CinePOLSKA series presents the newest works of Polish cinematography as well as classics of Polish film. We work on joint projects with the representations of other European Union countries, including preparing an ambitious program for Washington’s popular EU Open House, held annually in May. We also encourage American youth to learn about the latest Polish achievements in various fields during the Kids Euro Festival in the Fall.  For those interested in events organized or promoted by our Embassy we recommend subscribing to our newsletter, in which we inform about upcoming events open to the public and report on past events. 

Polish Cultural Institute New York
Adam Mickiewicz Institute                        

Cooperation in the field of science

Outside the European Union, the United States is Poland’s most important strategic partner in the field of science. Scientific cooperation is outlined in the U.S.-Poland Science and Technology Agreement, signed on April 23, 2018 in Washington, D.C. by Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Science and Higher Education Jarosław Gowin and U.S. Undersecretary of State Thomas Shannon.  The agreement on science and technology cooperation serves as the basis for all projects and joint endeavors carried out by scientists from Poland and the United States. The significant benefits that result from the regulation of cooperation through an international agreement include the opportunity for scientists at various stages of their careers to network. Direct contact, participation in conferences and expert meetings, and joint scientific research are key in building the broad partnership between Poland and the U.S.  The agreement allows for closer cooperation between Polish and American government agencies that distribute funds for scientific research and development of mechanisms for co-financing Polish-American research projects. The platform of such activities includes regular Joint Committee Meetings. The agreement will be in place for the next 10 years.  On November 13, 2018 a Memorandum of Understanding between the Polish Ministry of Health and Ministry of Science and Higher Education and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services on cooperation in the spheres of health and biomedical sciences was signed in Washington, D.C. The agreement, in effect for a period of five years, sets out the framework for Polish-American cooperation on biomedical sciences and public health and complements the agreement between the Polish and U.S. governments for collaboration in science and technology signed in April 2018 during Deputy Prime Minister Jarosław Gowin’s visit to the United States.  Poland-U.S. Science Award  Established in 2013, the Poland-U.S. Science Award aims to strengthen and promote work between Polish and American scientists. The award is given jointly by the Foundation for Polish Science (FNP) and the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). It honors researchers from the USA and Poland for outstanding achievements resulting from Polish-American scientific cooperation and is granted to a pair of scientists, one conducting research in Poland and the other in the United States. It has been awarded in three editions, in 2014, 2016 and 2018.  Main Areas of Involvement in Scientific Cooperation by the Embassy of Poland in Washington, D.C.:  Providing and exchanging information and facilitating cooperation between Polish and American government institutions in the fields of research policy, education and technology transfer. Initiating and facilitating cooperation between Polish and American partners in the fields of research and development and technology transfer. Promoting the presence of Polish science, education and technology in the U.S. and of American science, education and technology in Poland by initiating and facilitating personnel exchanges. Promoting Polish research centers as attractive places for developing academic careers. Promoting Polish universities as a place of study for American students. 

Recognition of academic qualifications

The Polish National Agency for Academic Exchange (NAWA) is responsible for the recognition in Poland of foreign documents confirming higher education as well as for tasks concerning the authentication of documents issued by Polish universities before obtaining legalization from the Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs. NAWA is also responsible for issuing the apostille on Polish graduation diplomas (including postgraduate diplomas), certificates of graduation and diplomas on the awarding of scientific and art degrees.

Degrees awarded by an authorized institution operating in the U.S. system of higher education (or, more broadly, that of a country belonging to the OECD) is recognized as equivalent to the relevant Polish academic degree.

Polish National Agency for Academic Exchange
Go Poland: GO! Poland is a multi-language website for researchers and students from abroad interested in studying in Poland. The website is part of the government initiative “Ready, Study, Go! Poland”
Ministry of Science and Higher Education
Ministry of Health
National Science Centre
National Centre for Research and Development
Polish Academy of Sciences
Foundation for Polish Science 
Conference of Rectors of Academic Schools in Poland 

Polish institutions operating in the United States

American Council for Polish Culture w Pointe Park
Polish Library in Washington
American-Polish Century Club in Sterling Heights
American Institute of Polish Culture in Miami
Polish and Slavic Center
Chicago Society PNA
Polish Scouting Organization, Inc. – Girls Division
Polish Scouting Organization, Inc. – Boys Division
Friends of John Paul II Foundation
Chicago Chopin Foundation
Gift from the Heart Foundation
Jan Karski Educational Foundation
Copernicus Foundation
Kościuszko Foundation 
Tatra Mountain Cultural Foundation
Sounds and Notes Foundation
Józef Piłsudski Institute of America
Joseph Conrad Yacht Club
Gazeta Polska Club in Chicago
Helena Modjeska Art and Culture Club in Los Angeles
Lublin Land Club
Polish American Congress 
Polish American Congress – Arizona 
Polish American Congress – Illinois
Polish American Congress – Michigan
Polish American Congress – Missouri
Polish American Congress – North California
Polish American Congress – South California
Polish American Congress – Wisconsin
Legion of Young Polish Women
Polish Museum of America
Paderewski Symphony Orchestra
Council of Educators in Polonia
Polish American Arts Association 
Polish American Cultural Institute of Minnesota 
Polish American Cultural Society w St. Louis
Polish American Social Club of Las Vegas
Polish Falcons of America
Polish Council – Archdiocese of Chicago
Orchard Lake Schools - Polish Mission
Polish Century Club w Troy
Polish Heritage Alliance – Polish Center of Wisconsin
Polish Museum in Winona – the Kashubian Capital of America
Polish Student Leaders Assembly
Polonia For Poland
Polish Mission – Orchard Lake Schools
Polish Institute of Arts and Sciences of America (PIASA)
Polish Club of Denver
Polish Center of John Paul II in Clearwater 
Polish Genealogical Society of America
Polish American Chamber of Commerce in Chicago
Polish American Chamber of Commerce in Michigan
Polish American Librarians Association
Polish American Historical Association
Polish American Contractors Builders Association
Polish American Police Association
Polish American Advocates Society
Polish and Slavic Federal Credit Union (PSFUK) 
Polish and Slavic Federal Credit Union – Midwest
North American Association of Teachers of Polish
Razem Utah
Family of Radio Maryja in Chicago
Saint Louis Polonia
Scena Polonia – Studio Theater Modjeska
Polish Library Building Association in Portland
Polish Emigration Association
Katyń Rally Association Memory and Identity
Polish Army Veterans Association in America (SWAP) 
Polish Army Veterans Association of America – Midwest
Polish Saturday School in Washington, DC 
Polish Saturday School in Chicago
Polish Saturday School in New York 
Chopin Theatre in Chicago
Friends of Cracow Society in Chicago 
Society for Art
Twin Cities Polish Festival
You Can be My Angel Foundation
WICI Song and Dance Company
POLONIA Polish Folk Song and Dance Ensemble
WESOLY LUD Polish Folk Dance Company
LIRA Ensemble
Polish Roman Catholic Union of America
Polish Teachers Association in America
Polish American Association
Alliance of Polish Clubs in the US
Polish American Medical Society
Polish National Alliance
Polish Highlanders Alliance of North America
Polish Women’s Alliance of America
Polish American Engineers Association
Union of Upper Silesians
Association of the National Armed Forces Soldiers in Chicago