FM lays down plans for coming year

Averting threats from Russia, EU-US relations and strengthening the EU's economy will be among Poland's foreign policy priorities in 2019, Foreign Minister Jacek Czaputowicz told PAP on Monday.

Czaputowicz said that among Poland's chief foreign policy aims will be reinforcing trans-Atlantic ties and preventing the formation of a "permanent rift" in EU-US relations. In this context he observed that the US and EU differed on a number of international issues, as examples naming the US administration's recent withdrawal from a nuclear treaty with Iran and plans to pull out of the INF medium-range nuclear missile treaty with Russia, both criticised by the EU.

"We will work towards rapprochement between Washington and Brussels, and this will be visible in various initiatives," Czaputowicz remarked.

Czaputowicz said Poland will also strive to draw international attention to violations of international law by Russia, and will continue to "oppose all acts of aggression." He also announced Poland's continued support for sanctions against Moscow.

"We will strive to uphold the importance of international law and oppose all acts of aggression. (...) We will appeal for adherence to international law and protest Russia's conduct. We will also argue for the employment of certain instruments, including sanctions, to give Russia a clear signal that international law cannot be violated," he said.

As another important foreign policy thread in 2019 Czaputowicz named the EU's future, and reminded that the May-scheduled EU summit in Sibiu, Romania is expected to map out the Community's plans for the coming 5 years. Czaputowicz added that Poland will continue to support an EU model based on "healthy economic foundations," free competition, economic discipline and growth.

"In the EU debate Poland has and will continue to pursue the vision of a competitive Europe based on the four basic freedoms, an economically disciplined and growing Europe," Czaputowicz said.

Czaputowicz also stressed that in view of mounting security threats from Russia, Poland will continue to strive for a raised NATO military presence in its region and the stronger presence of US forces on its own territory.

He also noted that in 2019 Poland will continue as a non-standing member of the UN Security Council and will have a voice in the body's decisions.

As especially important for Poland in 2019 Czaputowicz named the July Berlin Process Summit in Poznań, western Poland. The Berlin Process is a German government initiative aimed at supporting the EU integration of six Western Balkan countries - Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Kosovo, Macedonia and Serbia - and strengthening regional cooperation in boosting economic growth and upgrading infrastructure.

Asked about the outgoing year's main events, Czaputowicz named the attempted poisoning in Salisbury, England, of Sergei Skripal, a former Russian military intelligence officer who acted as a double agent for the UK's intelligence services in the 1990s and early 2000s, and Russia's recent actions against Ukraine on the Sea of Azov. He added that important events from Poland's point of view were the COP24 climate conference in Katowice and Polish President Andrzej Duda's September visit to Washington, which helped strengthen strategic ties between the US and Poland.