The nation of Poland prepared a hero’s welcome for U.S. President Donald Trump in advance of his Wednesday night arrival in Warsaw. But the Polish government executed a decidedly understated ceremony to greet Air Force One at Chopin Airport.
Lawmakers in the formerly communist nation see in Trump a mirror of their own brand of nationalism that has seen many Poles bristle against an iron-fisted European Union centered on Germany.
Among the European nations, Poland is one of the holdouts against the notion of resettling massive numbers of foreigners.
‘The Polish government has the same position as Americans — we want strict restrictions on refugees,” legislator Krzysztof Mróz told The Wall Street Journal.
For Trump’s arrival, President Andrzej Duda sent his top aides to put on a far smaller affair than the all-out pomp and circumstance that awaited the U.S. leader in Saudi Arabia when he deplaned on his first foreign presidential trip six weeks ago.
Scroll down for video
U.S. President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump arrived Wednesday night at Warsaw military airport in Warsaw, Poland, today
For Trump’s arrival, President Andrzej Duda sent his top aides to put on a far smaller affair than the all-out pomp and circumstance that awaited the U.S. leader in Saudi Arabia when he deplaned on his first foreign presidential trip six weeks ago
The Trump’s disembark Air Force One on Wednesday as seen above. The President waves to the crowd
First Lady Melania Trump is handed a bouquet of flowers as she lands on the tarmac in Poland
Instead of a lengthy rifle-bearing honor guard, the president saw only 10 Polish military members at attention.
A red carpet, his signature Cadillac limousine nicknamed ‘The Beast,’ and a smallish retinue of Polish officials – one bearing a bouquet of flowers for first lady Melania Trump – were waiting.
Foreign Affairs Minister Witold Waszczykowski, and Minister of State Krzysztof Szczerski led the delegation, with U.S. Ambassador Paul Jones in tow.
While White House staff and reporters filed out through a rear door, the president and Mrs. Trump descended a staircase to greet the smallish welcoming party.
Melania was all smiles as she waved to those greeting her on the tarmac as she clasped a bouquet of flowers
Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster also made the trip, the White House said
A smallish retinue of just 10 soldiers accompanied Polish Foreign Affairs Minister Witold Waszczykowski and Minister of State Krzysztof Szczerski, along with U.S. Ambassador Paul Jones, to greet the Trumps
A red carpet, his signature Cadillac limousine nicknamed ‘The Beast,’ and a smallish retinue of Polish officials – one bearing a bouquet of flowers for first lady Melania Trump – were waiting
Green lady: Melania wore a stylish green coat on arrival in Poland for the Three Seas Summit
Mrs Trump., wearing a green coat, waved to the media – who were present in greater numbers than the dignitaries.
Following the first couple were Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, the president’s daughter and son-in-law – holding hands and smiling – along with Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and other officials.
Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster also made the trip, the White House said.
Melania was beaming as she waved to onlookers leaving the airport after touching down in Poland
U.S. President Donald Trump touched down in Poland just after 10pm local time on Wednesday, in Air Force One
Ivanka Trump and her husband Jared Kushner, both advisers to the president, deplaned behind the first couple on Wednesday, using the forward set of stairs reserved for VIPs
Ivanka Trump, right, and her husband Jared Kushner, senior advisor of President Donald Trump arrive to the military airport in Warsaw, Poland, Wednesday
Less than four minutes after appearing at the forward door of Air Force One, the Trumps were being chauffeured by Secret Service drivers off the airport grounds.
Polish TV networks lined the motorcade route with cameras, careful to catch every bump and turn-signal on a live national broadcast.
TRUMP’S POLISH STOP
The president is visiting Warsaw in advance of the G20 summit in Hamburg (all times are local, +6 hours from EDT):
10:45 p.m. – Air Force One arrival
9:30 a.m. – meetings with President Andrzej Duda
10:15 a.m. – ‘press event’ with Duda
10:55 a.m. – Three Seas Initiative roundtable and remarks by Trump and Duda
12:15 p.m. – meeting with Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović
1:15 p.m. – Speech in Krasinski Square
2:05 p.m. – Air Force One leaves for Hamburg, Germany
On Thursday the nation of Frederick Chopin, Nicolaus Copernicus and Pope John Paul II hopes to make a bigger splash.
Mróz, the legislator, sent two busloads of Trump supporters on a 300 mile trek to Warsaw to see Trump speak in Krasinski Square, where a monument stands to a 1944 popular uprising against German occupation.
In every corner of Poland, in fact, citizens were offered free transportation to Warsaw if they wanted to be a part of the Trump show.
There have been lots of takers: In a nation where Nazis built the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camps, resentment against Germany still runs blood-deep.
And as German Chancellor Angela Merkel leads the EU toward a more collectivist destiny, modern Poles are still in a resistance mode that Trump will tap in his speech Thursday.
Added to the Germanophobia is a renewed tension with Russia, whose small Kaliningrad Oblast region – on the border with Poland but disconnected from the rest of the sprawling country, has become ground zero for a Vladimir Putin military buildup.
NATO sent a massive troop deployment to the Polish side of that border in January, including more than 4,000 American soldiers.
President Trump’s grand entrance in Warsaw will be seen worldwide before he sets foot in Germany, France or the United Kingdom, something that a White House official gamely said Wednesday was ‘half because of the calendar, and half on purpose, but not meant to be a stick in anyone’s eye.’
He will visit Hamburg on Friday and Saturday for a G20 summit, and Paris the following Friday for Bastille Day celebrations. No calendar has been set for a UK trip.
Former president Barack Obama strongly favored a Berlin-centric view of Europe, cultivating close ties with Merkel. But those days appear to be over.
‘There is no love for Germany in Poland,’ Aleksander Kowalczyk, an accountant, told DailyMail.com on a drizzly Warsaw Wednesday afternoon.
‘I am hoping Trump will bring more love for Poland than Germany has ever shown us. That probably isn’t hard,’ he said. ‘I’m hoping he understands us.’
The mood surrounding the U.S. president’s visit is seen in some quarters as a repeat of last year’s Brexit referendum in Great Britain, where Trump fanned the flames of anti-immigrant sentiments that contributed to a continent-shaking result.
‘It’s clear that what the Poles want is to turn their back on France and Germany, Trump is surely not helping,’ a senior EU official told the Journal.
Tensions run high as Poles resent German Chancellor Angela Merkel (right) over blood-deep remembrances of Nazi atrocities, and Russian President Vladimir Putin (left) over his nation’s stranglehold on energy resources in the region
Trump is seen by many Poles as a politician whose nationalism closely mirrors their own
Poland is leading the charge for the Three Seas Initiative, a new trading bloc (in green) that is likely to dilute the power of Russia (in red). Russia’s Kalinin Oblast (the small area in red) borders Poland, creating what could be a military tinder-box
Polish president Andrzej Duda, Trump’s host on Thursday, has positioned his former communist nation as a foil to both German EU dominance and Russian hegemony
A White House official confirmed on Tuesday that part of Trump’s globally televised speech will focus on energy issues, a reference to the Three SeAs Initiative meant to unite a dozen central European countries in a north-south economic alliance that will weaken Russia’s regional power.
Trump will attend a Three Seas summit on Thursday, consulting with the Polish-Croatian project about trade, infrastructure, energy and political co-operation.
The three seas in question – the Adriatic, the Baltic and the Black Sea – are critical geographical landmarks to Poland, Hungary, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Romania, Bulgaria, Lithuania, Estonia, Latvia, Croatia, Slovenia and Austria, the nations that united last year to create their own bloc.
Most of those nations were under the Soviet Union’s control until the end of the 1980s. They all rely heavily on Russian oil and gas to drive their economies.
But Poland has built its own natural gas export terminal on the Baltic coast, and Croatia will finish its own in 2019 on the Adriatic.
In addition to Duda, Trump will meet with Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović – shown (right) looking at him during the May 25 NATO summit in Brussels, Belgium
The president will speak to Poles in Krasinsky Square, in the shadow of a monument to the heroes of the 1944 Warsaw Rising against the occupying Nazi Germans
Trading more with each other and less with Moscow would drive down Putin’s influence in a part of the world where old wounds still fester.
And while much of the world sees Trump as engaged in a friendly dance with Putin, many Poles still view U.S.-Russia relations as Cold War-infused and frosty.
‘Screw Russia. We don’t need Russia,’ cab driver Mateusz Nowak said Wednesday as his Mercedes idled near Krasinski Square.
‘We don’t need Germany. We don’t need China. We don’t need anybody but the Croats, the Czechs, the Ukrainans – and maybe the U.S.’
‘Trump is welcome here,’ said Nowak. ‘Anyone who Merkel and Putin don’t like is good news for us.’