Polish PM Tusk chosen as next European Council president
August 29, 2014
Prime Minister Donald Tusk has been chosen by EU leaders as the next European Council president, a move that cements Poland's emergence as an important player in the European Union ten years after it joined the bloc.
Herman Van Rompuy, the outgoing council president, announced Tusk as his successor at a summit in Brussels on Saturday. Tusk, a center-right pro-European, will start his a two-and-a-half-year term in the key EU post in December.
"I realize that the main task of the European Council president is constantly seeking compromise," Tusk, whose new job will see him chairing EU summits, told a press conference.
On the Ukraine crisis, Tusk said it was vital to "jointly work out a policy on the Ukraine-Russia conflict that is courageous but not radical and effective in achieving peace."
Analysts say that Tusk's appointment will give ex-communist countries in Central and Eastern Europe that are critical of the Kremlin new clout in the EU. Poland has been one of the most vocal supporters of sanctions against Russia over its involvement in the Ukraine crisis.
Italian Foreign Minister Federica Mogherini, a center-left politician who was Saturday officially named as the EU's next foreign policy chief, has been criticized for being soft on Russia.
Tusk told reporters that Europe could benefit from Poland's experience, adding that pursuing economic growth could be achieved while maintaining fiscal discipline. Poland was the only country in the European Union to avoid recession during the global crisis.
Tusk's departure to Brussels to take up his new job could mean a sea change in Polish politics, in which he been a dominant figure for the seven years he has been in power.
Tusk's ruling Civic Platform (PO), which is trailing behind the conservative opposition Law and Justice (PiS) party in the run-up to next year's parliamentary elections, will now have to choose a candidate to replace him as prime minister.