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The Warsaw Voice » Politics » April 26, 2012
Politics & Society
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‘Today’s Poland is the best Poland we have ever had...’
April 26, 2012   
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Selected excerpts from Foreign Minister Radosław Sikorski’s speech to parliament March 29, outlining Poland’s foreign policy priorities.

- Last year the main instrument which enabled us to buck and reverse worrying trends was, naturally, the Polish Presidency of the Council of the European Union. I am proud to state that despite the adverse circumstances, Poland’s leadership is widely viewed as the best one since the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty.

- We have reaffirmed our status as a heavyweight Member State. We changed Poland’s image from a country which only benefits from the EU to a country which – true – benefits, but also inspires others to act. Today when others think of Poland, they think of economic growth, a modern country, and effective governance – we have become a partner worth courting.

- We oppose initiatives aimed at giving Poland less funds from the EU budget on account of our robust economic growth. We do not want to be punished for being a success story!

4 By 2015 we want to fulfil all of the convergence criteria and be able to adopt the euro. It is in Poland’s political interest to accede to the most tightly-knit group of countries that use the single currency.

- Ukraine remains our most important non-Atlantic strategic partner. We are invariably willing to support it – so long as it chooses its pro-European destiny. We call on the Ukrainian authorities to create political conditions – including standards of opposition treatment and electoral and judicial norms – which will make it possible to sign and implement the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement.

- We hope that the new president of Russia will lead his country on a path of modernization, in line with the expectations of Russian society. We will continue to work towards Polish-Russian reconciliation...

- In its relations with Europe, Belarus unfortunately insists on sticking to the principle of “less for less.” In line with the proposal put forward by Donald Tusk during the Eastern Partnership Summit, we have prepared a cooperation offer which will await the day when repression ends and the political opposition is allowed to play its due role.

- We are glad that U.S. companies are prospecting for Polish shale gas reserves and bidding to provide technologies for planned nuclear power plants. We will welcome with open arms the permanent U.S. military detachment to be stationed in Poland. We stand ready to implement the Poland-U.S. agreement on the missile defence base, even though we are aware of the fact that U.S. plans may be subject to modification, for example, if an agreement is reached on Iran’s nuclear programme. We expect President Barack Obama to fulfil his obligation to include Poland under the visa waiver programme, even though we note that visa-free travel to the U.S. now requires payment and prior registration.

- This year we begin the campaign to make Poland a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council in 2018.

- My speech before the German Society for Foreign Affairs – delivered at the peak of the eurozone crisis – sparked a heated discussion both at home and abroad. At the time, I criticized Germany for not engaging itself enough in saving the euro area, of which Germany is the biggest beneficiary. I said that, “I fear German power less than I am beginning to fear German inactivity.” I am glad to note that two events have taken place since then. Germany gave the European Central Bank a green light to inject EUR 1.018 trillion into the eurozone banking sector, thus mitigating the crisis. Second, Germany elected Joachim Gauck as its new President, who chose Warsaw for his first foreign visit. As a country with such a noble man for President, Germany really no longer gives us any cause for fear.

- One must ponder the possible scenarios of EU development...

Here is the worst-case scenario... The Schengen system is dismantled bit by bit; more and more countries shut their borders to fend off economic migrants from other Member States. The single labour market disappears as a result...

Common Agricultural Policy and Cohesion Policy funds dry up. Because countries are unable to compensate for lower competitiveness with Community transfers, they reimpose customs barriers.... Egoism, particular interests and protectionism take hold. Europe returns to its tragic past. Solidarity loses out to “survival of the fittest”...

- ...the fourth scenario: deeper integration and the creation of a stable political union. This is our vision. We assume that Member States will forever remain independent. With the right to exit the EU. And the right to define the scope of powers transferred to the Community level. I believe that identity, culture, religion, way of life, and the principal tax rates should forever remain in the hands of nation states.
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