- The government of new Prime Minister Tusk wins the confidence of Parliament
- Tusk presents government plans to Parliament
- His appointment ended eight years of nationalist rule
- Seating was disrupted due to an anti-Semitic incident
WARSAW, Dec 12 (Reuters) – Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk’s government won the confidence of parliament on Tuesday, laying out a pro-European Union vision for Poland that represents a radical change after eight years of nationalist rule and disagreements with Brussels. .
Presenting his government’s plans to lawmakers, Tusk said Poland would be a strong supporter of Ukraine, a loyal ally of the United States and a committed member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).
He also indicated his determination to repair Warsaw’s relations with European Union institutions after years of disagreement over issues ranging from judicial independence, the rule of law and gay rights.
Tusk said during a press conference that “Poland will regain its position as a leader in the European Union… Poland will build its strength and the position it deserves,” and he later promised to “recover billions of euros” from Brussels.
Tusk received the support of 248 deputies, while 201 voted against him, at the end of a session that was disrupted when a far-right deputy used a fire extinguisher to extinguish Chanukah candles during an event in Parliament with members of the Jewish community.
The new prime minister added his voice to the chorus of anger and condemnation, describing what happened as “the work of bandits.”
I am the money
The European Commission, the EU’s executive branch, froze significant funds allocated to Poland while the nationalist Law and Justice Party was in power due to concerns about the rule of law.
Poland has been approved for 5.1 billion euros ($5.5 billion) in advance payments as part of an EU program to encourage the transition away from Russian fossil fuels.
But the remainder of a total of €59.8 billion in green transition and coronavirus recovery funds has been frozen until Warsaw rolls back a judicial reform implemented by PiS that critics say has undermined the independence of the courts.
Despite his pro-EU line, Tusk, who was also prime minister from 2007 to 2014, said he would oppose any changes to EU treaties that would harm Poland.
Tusk, the former president of the European Council, which includes the leaders of EU member states, said: “Any attempts to change treaties that conflict with our interests are out of the question… No one in the European Union will surpass me.”
Tusk, 66, also promised that his government would make defense a priority and respect previously signed arms contracts.
PiS MP Ryszard Terlecki was not impressed by Tusk’s speech. “It wasn’t very specific and it was long,” he said.
The Law and Justice Party came in first place in the October 15 elections and had the first opportunity to form a government, but it lacked the majority needed to do so after all other parties ruled out working with it.
Tusk’s government will be sworn in by President Andrzej Duda on Wednesday before the new prime minister heads to Brussels to attend the European Union summit.
Relations with Ukraine
The last months of the term of Mateusz Morawiecki’s government were characterized by tension in relations with Ukraine, especially due to Warsaw’s extension of the ban on Ukrainian grain imports.
As concerns grow in Kiev about the commitment of its Western allies to fund its defense against the Russian invasion, Tusk said Poland would call for continued support.
He added, “We will loudly and decisively demand the full mobilization of the free world and the Western world to help Ukraine in this war.”
Ukraine also faces the possibility that Hungary will not give the green light to start EU accession talks at a Brussels summit this week.
Relations between Warsaw and Kiev were strained due to the protest of Polish truck drivers who closed some border crossings in a dispute over the access of Ukrainian trucking companies to the European Union.
Tusk said he would quickly resolve the issues behind the protest, and that Poland would ensure the security of its eastern border, which is an external border of the European Union.
Poland accused Belarus of orchestrating the migrant crisis on its border. But human rights activists accused Poland of mistreating migrants, mostly from the Middle East and Africa, who sought to arrive from Belarus.
“You can protect Polish borders and be humanitarian at the same time,” Tusk said.
He said that after returning from the European Union summit this week, he would meet with leaders of the Baltic states in Estonia to discuss the war in Ukraine and secure borders.
($1 = 0.9264 euros)
(Reporting by Anna Cooper, Alan Charlish and Pawel Florkiewicz – Preparing by Mohammed for the Arabic Bulletin – Preparing by Mohammed for the Arabic Bulletin) Writing by Anna Wlodarczak-Simchuk and Alan Charlish; Edited by Allison Williams, Thomas Janowski, Timothy Heritage and Grant McCall
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