New Polish premier wants more US military presence

AP News
Posted: Oct 01, 2014 7:36 AM
New Polish premier wants more US military presence

WARSAW, Poland (AP) — Poland's new prime minister says she will seek a greater U.S. military presence in Poland because the conflict in neighboring Ukraine has made Poland's security and the U.S.-Polish relationship even more important.

Speaking Wednesday at her inauguration, Ewa Kopacz promised to take a "pragmatic" approach to Ukraine but said she would not agree to a change in Europe's borders by force, as happened in Crimea.

Kopacz took over from Donald Tusk, democratic Poland's longest-serving prime minister, who is soon to hold a key European Union job.

Poland has been a strong supporter of Ukraine's pro-Western reforms and has been one of Europe's most outspoken voices condemning the Russian aggression there. However, Kopacz's comments indicated that her government would be less outspoken than Tusk's on Russia.

"We support the pro-European direction in Ukraine's development, but we cannot step in for the Ukrainians, who have the responsibility to change their own country," she said.

Kopacz said her government will make "every effort to obtain a greater U.S. military presence in Poland."

She indicated her team would continue Tusk's policies of strengthening Poland's position in the 28-nation EU and seeking to build a strong joint policy. Her government is to serve one year until a national election next fall.

Kopacz said she would urge the EU to develop a common energy policy to protect individual countries against Russia's monopoly gas practices. Poland and other Central European countries are highly dependent on Russian gas and fear that Moscow could cut supplies in the winter, as it has done before, to exert pressure.

Kopacz also supported Poland's eventual adoption of the euro currency, but didn't commit herself to a date.

She faces a confidence vote in parliament later Wednesday but her center-right Civic Platform party and its junior partner, the Polish People's Party, enjoy a majority in the lower house.