WARSAW, Poland (AP) — Polish President-elect Andrzej Duda, who takes office next week, says his priority is to have NATO troops and armaments permanently placed in Poland as a safety guarantee.
The comments made Wednesday night to state TVP television suggest he will continue Poland's current pro-Western policy and ties within NATO, especially in the face of the conflict in neighboring Ukraine between government troops and Russia-backed separatists. The statement was significant because Duda comes from the euro-skeptic opposition Law and Justice party, which vows to stand up for Poland's interests internationally if it wins Oct. 25 general elections.
Duda told regional TVP Krakow that he would like next year's NATO summit in Poland to approve a permanent placement of NATO troops and armaments in Poland.
"The expectation is to have this (NATO) presence strengthened because it is one of the guarantees of our safety," Duda said.
He said he would also like to upgrade the Polish army to a level that will "require respect."
Earlier this year, the U.S. announced it will place some 250 tanks and armored vehicles in Poland and some other regional NATO members that feel at risk from Russia.
On domestic issues, Duda said his presidency will be "dynamic" and he will travel and meet people to hear their problems, just like he did it in his successful campaign.
Duda's concern for those who feel they've been left out of Poland's economic boom is believed to be the main reason for his presidential victory.
In his first decisions, Duda said, he will seek to reverse a recent retirement age increase and give the poorest new tax exemptions.