Tusk focuses on improving foreign policy
Poland’s new Prime Minister Donald Tusk is focusing on improving his nation’s foreign policy. He says the former government’s policy was damaging Poland’s relations with, for example, Germany and Russia. In recent days he has visited Italy, Belgium and Germany to discuss key issues. Together with his Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski, Tusk says he intends to work hard to make Polish foreign policy more open for compromise and cooperation. During his meeting with European Commissioner Jose Manuel Barroso, Tusk showed significant differences with his predecessor, Jaroslaw Kaczynski. Tusk emphasized there was no conflict between the interests of Poland and those of the EU.
Barroso and Tusk agreed the mutual relationships should be based on trust. Nevertheless the new prime minister is not going to bow to every EU demand but rather make the relations based on solid negotiations and a rapid resolution of any conflict.
“It’s important to stand up for your nation, to defend the crucial interest of your nation,” Tusk told the EU commissioner. “This tough defense, if you will, of your interest in the EU also means the ability to cooperate, the ability to show mutual respect. As a representative of the Polish government alongside with others who have fought for the EU, I will stand up and defend the European interest as well but always in the spirit of mutual trust and cooperation.”
Foreign Minister Sikorski met his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, in Brussels for the highest level talks between the two countries in over a year.
Diplomats said the meetings would have a symbolic dimension since Tusk, a center-right liberal, had promised in the election campaign and in his inaugural speech to put Poland back in the EU mainstream and to end verbal hostilities with Russia.
Poland’s relationship with Russia, after a year of tensions between the two countries, was also at the top of the agenda in talks dominated by EU issues during Tusk’s meeting with his Italian counterpart, Roman Prodi, in Rome on Dec. 7.
The Italian prime minister complimented Tusk on Poland’s efforts to improve relations with Russia.
This follows a previous Polish government stance to block talks on a new EU-Russia agreement after Russia imposed a ban on imports of Polish meat products.
Another very important issue of Tusk’s foreign policy is Poland’s second big neighbor, Germany.
As Germany and Poland are looking to repair their bilateral relations, first Sokorski and then Tusk visited Berlin.
Relations between the two countries have been strained because of the previous Polish government’s stance on certain EU issues and discussions about a proposal for a controversial Center for Displaced Persons in Germany by an association concerned with the fate of Germans expelled from Eastern Europe after World War II.
German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier assured Poland that the German government didn’t support the controversial property claims by some Germans organized into the Association for Displaced Persons against Poland.
“I am glad that we are also able to talk about the difficult subjects, and I can call them that, in a very open and trustworthy atmosphere,” Steinmeier said.
And indeed the atmosphere seemed more friendly. Sikorski and Steinmeier were even on first-name terms.
The meeting brought forth mutual assurances that the political relations between Germany and Poland would improve.