Belgian ambassador to Poland summoned to Foreign Ministry

he ambassador of Belgium has been summoned to the Polish Foreign Ministry in connection with a statement made by the Belgian prime minister at the College of Europe in Bruges, a ministry spokesman told PAP on Friday.

"The ambassador was summoned to the ministry at 1430 hrs on Friday in connection with Alexander De Croo's statement," Łukasz Jasina said.

According to mass media reports, during his lecture in Bruges, De Croo made a reference to an interview given by Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki to The Financial Times. Morawiecki accused the European Commission of making demands on Poland while holding a "gun to our head," and added that a decision to withhold funding could start "a third world war."

Talking about Poland’s rule-of-law dispute with the EU, Morawiecki said Brussels should withdraw the threat of economic sanctions, if it wants to resolve the conflict.

The Polish prime minister also said that any move designed to withhold EU funding from a pandemic recovery fund would meet with a strong response, and promised that he would defend Poland's position "with all the weapons which are at our disposal."

According to media reports, in his lecture in Bruges, the Belgian prime minister targeted Morawiecki and said that those who grant such provocative interviews and declare a new world war, "have been playing with fire when waging war with your European colleagues for internal political reasons."

The comments follow years of disputes over the changes the Polish government has made to the country's courts. The EU believes the changes erode democratic checks and balances, and the European Commission is holding up billions of euros in funding earmarked for Poland from a pandemic recovery plan.

At the meeting with Deputy Foreign Minister Szymon Szynkowski vel Sęk, the Belgian ambassador heard "words of disapproval and indignation over Prime Minister De Croo's comments," the Foreign Ministry said in a communique after the talks.

The Polish deputy minister was quoted to have said that "such public comments do not facilitate a good climate in Polish-Belgian relations."

Łukasz Jasina, a Foreign Ministry spokesman, said at a press briefing after the meeting that the Belgian prime minister "in his speech at the College of Europe exposed Polish-Belgian relations to too much risk.

"We believe that these words do not support Polish-Belgian relations... especially when we're facing a difficult situation within the EU," Jasina added.