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The Warsaw Voice » Politics » September 30, 2009
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Buzek Makes Maiden Speech
September 30, 2009   
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Former Polish prime minister Jerzy Buzek, who recently took over as president of the Strasbourg-based European Parliament, delivered his inaugural speech Sept. 15.

"I stand before you today as the 13th president of this chamber chosen in direct elections. Many of you say that my having been elected is a symbol of the dreams of millions of people in Central and Eastern Europe," Buzek said.

There is no longer an old and new Europe, Buzek said, adding that he would work to make sure Europe grows strong and modern. "I know and understand the needs and concerns of people in EU countries. Now we are taking joint responsibility for the future of our continent," Buzek said.

According to Buzek, the need to overcome the economic crisis is one of the key challenges the EU faces today; other priorities include energy and ecology, foreign policy, human rights and a shared value system as well as reform of the European Parliament.

Buzek said that, during his two-and-a-half-year term as president of the European Parliament, he will strive to enforce a truly common energy policy, including expansion of the external pipeline system and connections between individual EU countries.

"Europeans may not understand geopolitics, but they do understand when their heating is turned off," Buzek said. "We have to expand the external pipeline system so as not to be reliant on any single country. We have to expand mutual connections between our gas networks and power grids."

Speaking about the EU's international ties, Buzek declared, "It's time for a genuine transatlantic partnership and joint efforts to build a new framework for the global order. I will work for stronger ties with the U.S. Congress at all levels."

Buzek also spoke about the need for what he called an active policy toward the EU's southern and eastern neighbors. "We have to work toward a strategic partnership with Russia, without forgetting that, much as in the case of relations with China, economic and political considerations cannot be more important than human rights, law and order and democracy," he said.
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