Polish official highlights security, Russian aggression

AP News
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Posted: Feb 09, 2017 8:56 AM
Polish official highlights security, Russian aggression

WARSAW, Poland (AP) — Poland's foreign minister said Thursday that it is a priority for his country to strengthen cooperation between the U.S. and Europe in the area of security and that he is concerned about the "aggressive policies of Russia in Eastern Europe."

Witold Waszczykowski made his remarks during a traditional yearly address to parliament. Among those in the audience were President Andrzej Duda, Prime Minister Beata Szydlo and foreign diplomats.

He said despite Russian polices he still sees a role for dialogue.

Waszczykowski also said Poland's ties are changing with Belarus, the authoritarian state on Poland's eastern border, noting that there have been more visits and meetings with Belarusian officials. The goal is to develop cooperation in trade and economy.

It marks a shift in Poland's foreign policy under the conservative government, which believes that the earlier policy of shunning Belarusian leaders while supporting democratic opposition groups was ineffective.

Waszczykowski also touched on Brexit, saying his government is making it a priority to protect the rights acquired by the hundreds of thousands of Polish citizens living in the U.K. and to put Polish interests on the agenda in discussions on the shape of the EU post-Brexit.

He said that Poland would play a constructive role in those discussions.

"The priority of the government is to repair the European Union, not to dismantle it," he said.

But the head of the main opposition party said the current foreign policy was "shortsighted, irresponsible, chaotic."

Grzegorz Schetyna of the pro-EU Civic Platform party, foreign minister in 2014-15, said the current course is squandering the achievements of previous governments, for example though neglecting close cooperation with Berlin and Paris in the so-called Weimar Triangle and turning toward Hungary which, he said, is "opening Europe up to Russia."