Polish FM: Foreign policy tasks for 2016 have been completed 100 percent

“All tasks that were assigned to us in the programming documents and that I presented in my annual policy address to the Sejm have been completed,” said Minister Witold Waszczykowski after a meeting with Prime Minister Beata Szydło which was held as part of the MFA’s review.

“The task has been completed 100 percent: despite the crisis in and around Europe, our situation is better,” declared the chief of Polish diplomacy.

Prime Minister Beata Szydło stressed that “2016 was a year of very active policy by the Polish government.” The government’s activities focused, with respect to the “European policy, on restoring Poland’s position in the EU, on the role of the Visegrad Group, currently under Poland’s presidency,” and on “shifting the approach to many issues discussed at the EU level in the direction proposed by Poland.” Regarding such issues as the migration crisis, or the need to change and reform the EU, Prime Minister Szydło highlighted that these are “undoubtedly the successes of Polish diplomacy.” She also said she believes that Poland’s foreign policy in 2017 will be active and focused on strengthening the role of our country in Europe.

The foreign minister commented primarily on security and regional cooperation. “Both our country and the region have been granted a security status equal to that of the western states, the old UE members,” he said. “American troops are coming to Poland, the missile shield is being built. This means that Poland’s security status has been increasingly similar to that of Western European countries,” argued the minister. He also announced that in 2017, Poland would like to see implementation of security decisions that were taken at the NATO summit in Warsaw last year.

Witold Waszczykowski pointed to the need to tackle challenges such as defending the borders against waves of immigrants, and hybrid threats. In this context, he announced that Poland will take an active part in European concepts of the common security and defence policy. “We have just completed important negotiations with Frontex on its status. For years, it has been operating in Poland without any legal or financial framework. Our government started the negotiations and brought them to a conclusion,” added the minister.

The foreign minister also recalled that Poland has set itself the task to enhance integration of the broadly understood region. “We gave a new impetus to the regional cooperation of the Visegrad Group, we set up new instruments of integration,” said Minister Witold Waszczykowski. He pointed out that Poland is working in the Bucharest Nine and the V4+ (meetings of the Visegrad Group countries with selected countries from outside) formats. He recalled that our country also cooperates with China in the 16+1 format. “In Poland, we launched the eastern flank triangle, which includes Poland, Romania and Turkey. At the moment we are preparing for the next meeting of the eastern flank triangle countries in Bucharest,” added the minister. “Our ambition is for the region to function independently within the EU and NATO, rather than being a periphery of Western Europe” said Witold Waszczykowski. “We will continue to seek stabilization of Eastern Europe,” he added. Speaking of regional cooperation, the foreign minister noted that it mainly concerns roads, railways and energy.

“Nor have we been neglecting our friends in the EU,” continued Minister Witold Waszczykowski. “We’ve had many rounds of intergovernmental consultations with such powers as Germany and Great Britain, but also with smaller countries like the Czech Republic and Hungary.” As he explained, the talks focused on major crises that are unfolding within the European Union and around it, and have to do with migration, energy, and climate. The minister pointed out that the year 2017 will be difficult given the situation in Europe. “Different crises that began years ago will persist,” said Witold Waszczykowski. “We are confronted with many wars and crises around Europe. These crises set off waves of migrants.” Moreover, the minister highlighted “the long list of problems within the EU,” pointing in particular to Brexit, the blueprint for the Community’s development, and the future of the currency and the euro area. “The EU must find out what prompted such an important country, a nuclear power, a permanent UN Security Council member, to leave the Union,” said Minister Witold Waszczykowski referring to the UK’s decision to exit the EU. “So we have a catalogue of identified problems that should be shown to Europe,” he underlined.

“While tending to regional problems, we have not neglected Eastern policy,” underscored Minister Waszczykowski, recalling talks with the Ukrainian side, and warmer relations with Belarus. “We have also embraced the ambitious challenge of looking to the wider world, of rebuilding our contacts in China, Korea, the emerging countries,” said the chief of Polish diplomacy.

The minister called attention to the many conversations and consultations he held in 2016 with a view to fulfilling foreign policy tasks. The first weeks of 2017 also abounded in the Polish foreign minister’s trips abroad and meetings in Warsaw. “At the beginning of this year, I was one of the first European politicians to be able to talk to the advisors of then still President-Elect Donald Trump, that is Henry Kissinger and General Michael Flynn. They assured me that Poland is on the right side of the conflict line, and will not be subject to international haggling,” recalled the minister. He also referred to his recent visit to New York, where he participated in an open UN Security Council debate, and his trip to Paris, which hosted discussions on the Middle East crisis and where the minister had a chance to meet French presidential candidates. He recalled his attendance, alongside Federica Mogherini and Jens Stoltenberg, at a World Economic Forum panel in Davos devoted to Europe’s security. “Last Friday I had an interesting conversation with the Lithuanian Foreign Minister, who represents a new government and expresses readiness to settle matters that divide us,” the minister continued.

“We have remembered about the Polish community abroad. During each visit (by Mr President, Madam Prime Minister, and me) we would devote time to talks with the Polish community, besides political talks. We’ve been listening to what Poles have to say,” said Minister Witold Waszczykowski, declaring that intensive cooperation with the Polish community and Poles abroad would continue in 2017.

Furthermore, Witold Waszczykowski announced plans for opening new embassies in Tanzania and Panama, working with the Ministry of Economic Development to expand the network of trade offices, and establishing new consulates, notably in Belfast and Houston, Texas. “A consular hotline will be launched in Warsaw in a few days’ time,” said Witold Waszczykowski, adding that it would be a 24/7 service.

Speaking about changes to the organization of Poland’s foreign service, Minister Waszczykowski mentioned plans to open a Diplomatic Academy, and introduce a new foreign service act which would open up the MFA to experts boasting unique knowledge.

Source: MFA Press Office