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  • 26 February 2016

    The Polish Foreign Minister Witold Waszczykowski discussed the priorities and successes of Polish diplomacy in the first hundred days of Beata Szydlo’s government during a press conference on Friday.

    “We have played an active role in the discussion about the future of the European Union. Poland played an active role not only regarding social issues proposed by David Cameron, but also regarding EU reforms. We are convinced that active diplomacy and the engagement of Prime Minister Szydlo herself has helped substantially decrease the danger of Brexit,” Minister Waszczykowski said during the press conference.


    The Minister also said that “coming to the foreign ministry it was necessary to make some fixes after my predecessors.” He pointed out that Poland’s diplomatic and consular activities had been cut drastically. Between 2007 and 2015 over 20 missions were closed:  around a dozen embassies and close to a dozen consulates. Minister Waszczykowski said that this weakened Polish diplomatic activity as well as Poland’s ability to look after its citizens. “In my exposé I already made clear that we will be opening new missions. These will be in: Mongolia, Philippines, Panama, Ecuador, Senegal, and Tanzania. I have also made the decision to return diplomatic and consular activity to several capitals, including Baghdad, Damascus and Tripoli,” Minister Waszczykowski said.




    The Foreign Minister said that Poland needs to tackle three crises: the security crisis on our continent, the crisis in our neighbourhood and the crisis resulting from the threat to the European project. These challenges have led us to seek out many allies and create co-operation with various countries. “These include our closest neighbours in the region, more distant countries as well as institutions in which we participate,” the Minister explained.


    Poland’s head of diplomacy said that the increasing of Poland’s security is of fundamental importance for his country. “Here we are focusing our efforts on co-operation with NATO, the United States and Great Britain while at the same time not neglecting co-operation with our other allies. As a result of intense diplomacy we have already been successful. An Alliance document was approved, which states that the eastern flank will contain a permanent presence of NATO troops,” Minister Waszczykowski said.


    “We are also putting emphasis on co-operation with our neigbours,” the Polish Foreign Minister said, pointing to Poland’s increased engagement with the Visegrad Group. “Our country also enjoys close co-operation with the second largest EU and NATO partner in this part of Europe, that is Romania, as well as with the Baltic and Nordic States. My first two visits abroad were to Stockholm and Finland, which demonstrates how important these partners are to us. A major focus of our work centres around the EU, although we would welcome a different EU, one that develops differently. This does not make us euro-sceptics. We want to be in the EU, but in a democratic EU rooted in solidarity; an EU which cares about the interests of all of its members,” Minister Waszczykowski said.

    Addressing the refugee and migrant problem, the Minister said that Poland was assisting European efforts to help Turkey deal with this problem. The Polish Foreign Minister pointed out that Poland was also contributing to a special fund to help Syria refugees. “Together with Germany we want to set up a humanitarian project which also helps refugees in this area,” Waszczykowski said, adding that additional humanitarian relief efforts were also being done independently.


    Poland’s chief diplomat also touched on the issue of the Eastern Partnership. He said that the formula underpinning this project had run its course, as three of the six members have since become Associate members of the EU, which means that new instruments need to be created for them. Minister Waszczykowski said that work in this regard had already been initiated within the framework of the Visegrad Group as well as in co-operation with Sweden, Romania and Great Britain. The Polish Foreign Minister also discussed areas that had been previously neglected in eastern policy. He pointed to the long-standing diplomatic paralysis between Poland and Belarus as well as the slowdown of diplomatic activity in Polish-Russian relations. “Already in the first hundred days, we have managed to create working relations with the Russian Federation on the Deputy Foreign Minister level,” he said.


    According to the Minister, the previous government had also neglected areas such as public, historical and cultural diplomacy. “Today we are reconstructing historical diplomacy, in co-operation with other ministries,” Minister Waszczykowski said. He also pointed out that a few days ago Prime Minister Beata Szydlo had appointed Dr. Sławomir Dębski as the new head of the Polish Institute of International Affairs (PISM).


    MFA Press Office


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