Polish FM on Polish UN Security Council presidency's priorities

During his recent visits to New York, Polish Foreign Minister Jacek Czaputowicz made several statements on Poland's priorities during the country's one-month presidency of the UN Security Council that started on May 1.

Among other issues, Jacek Czaputowicz underlined strengthening the importance of international law, efficient resolution of conflicts and providing protection to civilians.

"These are important issues for the entire international community as today we can see that international law often suffers violations. These are related in particular to the non-aggression principle and the principle of non-interference in the internal affairs of other states, as well as non-observance of agreements," the foreign minister said.

Among Poland's initiatives, Czaputowicz named a May 17 debate on trust in international law that will be chaired by Polish President Andrzej Duda.

On a recent visit to New York, the foreign minister stressed that international law was not being observed across the world and in this context he mentioned Russia's actions against Ukraine. "The international community should have ways to put pressure on countries violating international law," he said.

A May 22, a debate chaired by Czaputowicz will focus on the significance of humanitarian law and the need to protect civilians during conflicts.

Czaputowicz also mentioned a May 9 briefing on the importance of peacekeeping missions. It will be attended by the commanders of major operations of this kind carried out under UN auspices.

"Certainly, (the operations) contribute to maintaining peace. But the point is to transform it into a lasting peace, which is to provide security and ensure development and human rights and proper administration so that the situation does not revert to conflict and war," the foreign minister stressed.

The Security Council will also react to developments in the international situation, Czaputowicz said, pointing to such problems as the conflict in Syria and the situation in North Korea, Iran and Ukraine.

Talking about ways to alleviate the plight of Syrian civilians, Czaputowicz said that, "the initiative of Sweden and Kuwait, the Council's non-permanent members, is aimed at brokering a ceasefire to enable the provision of humanitarian aid in situ."

The foreign minister observed that preparations for a potential meeting between US President Donald Trump and North Korean Leader Kim Jong-un will take place during the Polish presidency.

Speaking of the differences of opinion in the Council over the stance towards North Korea, Czaputowicz said that, "Poland believes that the sanctions (against Pyongyang - PAP) should be maintained, but at the same time Poland is one of the few countries that have an embassy in North Korea. I have pointed out that this could play an important role in maintaining contacts with the regime or the diplomatic services of this country."

A potential termination of the nuclear agreement with Iran could be yet another important issue, according to the minister. The US president is to decide on the matter on May 12.

Poland has been cooperating with the EU and its member states on the Iran deal, Czaputowicz added.

"We've been supporting actions taken by France, Great Britain and Germany that are aimed at finding a compromise in this area. We believe this deal should be kept," Czaputowicz said, while making the reservation that, "it may be subject to some modification."

Speaking about Ukraine, Czaputowicz argued it would be a good idea for the UN to send peacekeeping forces to the country.

"It is difficult to strike an agreement, but we are working on it (...) Poland is one of the most active countries in this respect as the situation in Ukraine is very important for our security, also due to the inflow of refugees from there," he argued.

"We have the support of the United States for the implementation of our programme," Czaputowicz concluded as he referred to Poland's presidency.