Lithuanian politician lauds new Polish Cabinet, slams ex FM Sikorski

A senior Lithuanian politician has applauded a recent government reshuffle in neighbouring Poland, saying the new Cabinet in Warsaw was a promise of positive changes in Polish-Lithuanian relations.

Gediminas Kirkilas, deputy Speaker of Lithuania’s parliament, said on Thursday that Poland’s new conservative Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki and a slew of sweeping changes that he recently made to his Cabinet promised to be a game changer in relations between Warsaw and Vilnius.

Speaking to public television broadcaster LRT, Kirkilas, who was prime minister of Lithuania from 2006 to 2008, said on Thursday that “the changes are positive” and marked a break away from “the silly ambitions” of Poland’s onetime Foreign Minister Radosław Sikorski.

Kirkilas also said that Poland, which borders Lithuania to the northeast, is “the first to be making concessions, although it is a bigger country.”

According to Kirkilas, Lithuania must not forget that Poland is its “strategic partner in every respect” and should make every effort to take advantage of “the current favourable situation” to resolve a range of disputed bilateral issues that “have remained unresolved for years,” such as the spelling of Polish names in Lithuania.

Another good signal for Vilnius, Kirkilas said, is that the former deputy Speaker of Poland’s lower house, the Sejm, Joachim Brudziński, who also co-chaired a joint Polish-Lithuanian Assembly of Deputies, has taken over as interior minister in Warsaw.

Brudziński “is well familiar with the subject of Polish-Lithuanian relations,” according to Kirkilas, who chairs the Lithuanian parliament’s committee for European affairs.

Kirkilas also voiced his belief that the new Polish prime minister as well as the new foreign minister in Warsaw, Jacek Czaputowicz, would “prove to be better negotiators in Brussels” and that talks under way between the European Commission and Warsaw would end in success.

“Here comes a completely new-style prime minister,” said Kirkilas, referring to Poland’s Morawiecki.

“You can accomplish a lot in Brussels, especially when you speak without translators,” he added, pointing to Morawiecki’s foreign language skills.

The Lithuanian public television broadcaster hailed what it called a revival in ties between Warsaw and Vilnius after a “freeze” in bilateral relations during Poland’s previous government led by the Civic Platform (PO) party, which was in power from 2007 to 2015.

The broadcaster noted that Polish lower-house Speaker Marek Kuchciński was in Vilnius in the autumn of last year and that Poland’s President Andrzej Duda was scheduled to make a trip to Lithuania in February, followed by a Morawiecki visit to Vilnius in March.

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