Polish foreign minister makes first visit abroad since epidemic hit

Czaputowicz (L) said the epidemic situation in the V4 is better than in other EU member states, which prompted Poland to reinstate cross-border work. Piotr Nowak/PAP

Polish Foreign Minister Jacek Czaputowicz visited Prague on Wednesday, his first foreign visit since the start of the coronavirus epidemic, to discuss with his Czech counterpart Tomas Petricek the re-opening of borders and regional policy.

"I would like to give an example to others that person-to-person meetings are possible, not only telephone talks and videoconferences. I would like the Visegrad Group (V4) (Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia - PAP) to show that it is possible," the Polish foreign minister said.

Czaputowicz said the epidemic situation in the V4 is better than in other EU member states, which prompted Poland to reinstate cross-border work. He recalled that Poland allows for the transit of Czech citizens across Poland and expressed an expectation that the Czech Republic will make a similar concession.

"Poland would like to continue lifting restrictions on the visits of citizens of other countries, we're following the measures undertaken by other countries and we are aware of the economic burden of restrictions on Polish and Czech tourism. We'll be making decisions suitable to ensuring epidemic safety and economic growth," Czaputowicz said.

Petricek said the Czech Republic was ready to open borders in mid-June with countries that have a similar epidemic situation and asked Poland to consider opening additional border crossings with his country.

The Wednesday talks are the beginning of a debate on the full opening of borders, Petricek said.

Czaputowicz and Petricek also discussed the conclusion of the Czech Republic's rotational presidency of the V4, which Poland will take over on July 1. The Polish minister said he would like to consult the matter with the other V4 members too, and revealed plans for a visit to Bratislava.

The two ministers also expressed criticism of Russia's policy of history and what they called attempts to rewrite history.