In recent years, Poland has extended its responsibilities and position in European and international affairs, supporting and establishing friendly relations with many 'Western' nations and a large number of 'developing' countries.
In 1994, Poland became an associate member of the European Union (EU) and its defensive arm, the Western European Union (WEU), having subimtted preliminary documentation for full membership in 1996, it formally joined the European Union in May 2004, along with the other members of the Visegrád group. In 1996, Poland achieved full OECD membership, and at the 1997 Madrid Summit was invited to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization in the first wave of policy enlargement finally becoming a full member of NATO in March 1999.
As changes since the fall of communism in 1989 have redrawn the map of central Europe, Poland has tried to forge strong and mutually-beneficial relationships with its seven new neighbours, this has notably included signing 'friendship treaties' to replace links severed by the collapse of the Warsaw Pact. The Poles have forged special relationships with Lithuania and particularly Ukraine, with whom they will co-host the UEFA Euro 2012 football tournament, in an effort to firmly anchor these states to the 'West' and provide them with an alternative to aligning themselves with the Russian Federation.
Poland is the sixth most populous member state of the European Union and, ever since joining in 2004, has pursued policies to increase its role in European affair.