Andrzej Duda urges ‘harmonious’ EU policy in major speech

Andrzej Duda

European Union institutions are “tasked with conducting a harmonious European policy rather than stigmatising, dividing and antagonising European nations,” Poland’s president has said. Speaking at a meeting with foreign ambassadors in Warsaw on Thursday, Andrzej Duda tackled issues such as the centenary of Poland’s independence, the future of the European Union and global security.

In a major foreign policy speech, he said that “the debate about the future of the common Europe should also include a discussion concerning an opening towards new member states.”

Referring to the impending exit of Britain from the bloc, Duda said: “Given the fact that one country is leaving the EU, we should be ready for new states to join.”

He added that “it is not acceptable that the European Union should be a community of a shrinking number of states or a community which should exclude some member states from the decision-making process.”

Duda vowed that “Poland will take consistent actions aimed at ensuring European unity without divisions into better and worse.”

‘An independent Poland is a valuable part of Central Europe’

Referring to this year’s centenary of Poland regaining independence, he went on to say that “an independent Poland is a valuable part of Central Europe, whereas a sovereign and affluent Central Europe is a valuable part of the common Europe and the world.”

He added that “Europe loses whenever it is subjected to the concert of powers or an external domination, but it wins peace and obtains proper conditions for economic development as long as it knows how to benefit from the richness of all its nations and states.”

According to Duda, Europe is facing “three fundamental threats” today: “a short-term decomposition, a medium-term political disintegration and a long-term strategic deterioration of the EU’s global position.”

The president told the gathering: “Already today we are struggling with the threat of decomposition of the EU (the project of a two-speed EU) or with its political disintegration (as reflected by Brexit). In the not-too-distant future it is going to translate into a growing probability of the deterioration of the EU’s global position.

“As the region of Central Europe, as the entire EU, and last but not least, as the Euro-Atlantic community, we must not let that happen if we want Europe to develop harmoniously. I am convinced that we need to respond to these threats in a resolute way… We need a wise and prudent reintegration.”

He also said that “Europe is not a work of… contemporary politicians” and “whoever claims to have a monopoly on defining what Europe is supposed to be, without asking others about their opinions and taking their arguments into account, is a usurper of the European idea.”

Europe “is and should be strong with the will of its nations, whereas the community institutions should serve that will,” he continued. “If we reverse that hierarchy and place institutions above nations, we will distort the right order of things.”

This kind of “aberration” leads to “societies departing from the idea of the common Europe, a phenomenon we could observe in a series of elections in the old EU member states throughout 2017,” Duda said, adding that “EU institutions should shoulder their part of responsibility for the social disappointment with integration and analyse mistakes they made.”

He argued that the European Union constitutes “a community of competition and that everyone has the right to care for their interests. Let us not forget, however, that we predominantly are a community of loyalty and subsidiarity.

“A loyal cooperation stands for: the European solidarity, free market without protectionism, solidarity in terms of the budget, equal rights and proportional duties. But… loyal cooperation requires that no state shall use instruments of the European policy against another member state and its security, for instance energy security to name one example.”

Challenges to global security

The year 2018 not only marks the centenary of Poland regaining independence, but it is also a year of big challenges to global security, Duda said.

He added: “Old conflicts do not die down, whereas new ones keep emerging. The policy of dialogue is struggling to win the competition against the policy of aggression and confrontation.”

In the light of the above, he said, Poland feels “an even greater deal of responsibility” while commencing its two-year-long non-permanent membership of the United Nations Security Council.

“Our decision to run for membership in this most important forum in terms of global security, originated from our deep care for justice and peace in international politics,” Duda said. “The motto of our campaign was ‘Solidarity-Responsibility-Commitment.’ Precisely these are the values which we are going to promote during the works of the Security Council and they are going to set the tone for our efforts.”

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