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“I consider Poland as a strategic partner”: new Czech President

“I consider Poland a strategic partner; we have the same position on security issues, support for Ukraine and attitude towards Russia, and we have a lot in common within the EU. In addition, our countries have strong economic and interpersonal ties,” Czech President Petr Pavel said.

On Wednesday the Czech President was asked on TVP Info about his visit to Poland, which is scheduled for this coming Thursday and Friday. It will be the president’s second foreign visit after taking office on March 9, as with the first visit Czech leaders traditionally go to Slovakia. Prior to voting in the second round of the presidential election in January, Pavel had declared he would go to Poland for his second foreign visit in the case of victory.

Asked on which areas of the Polish-Czech co-operation he considers as most important, Pavel pointed to the strategic area of “transatlantic security.”

“With Poland, we have the same positions, not only in relation to NATO, but especially when it comes to supporting Ukraine and acting against Russia. I think this is without a doubt in the first place,” the Czech president pointed out.

Pavel also drew attention to co-operation between Poland and the Czech Republic as to the European Union, where he assessed the two countries have many common standpoints.

“I think it is important that it is our region that is able to speak with one voice, and thus provide a certain counterbalance to the big EU countries,” he said.

“The third area is the trade and economic relations, which are very extensive, and the fourth area is cross-border co-operation, on those traditional issues – such as co-operation between the police, firefighters, and emergency services, where we still have something to do,” said the Czech president.

He added the Czech Republic is implementing this type of co-operation with Austria or Germany. “This co-operation is working relatively well. With Poland, as our large neighbor, we should improve this co-operation.”

The Czech president was also asked about the influence of Poland and the Czech Republic on Western countries in increasing their support for Ukraine, which has been invaded by Russia. “I believe that this influence is already there, and has been since the very beginning of the conflict. The Czech Republic, along with Poland, Slovakia, and the Baltic states, has been at the forefront of this assistance, not only with words, i.e. political statements but also with material assistance, including military equipment. It can be said that our part of Europe, to a certain extent, determined the movements of Western Europe,” he assessed.

“We would do well not to stop there, to build an active role for the region in relation to traditional Western Europe, to make our voice heard. I think we have something to build on here,” he added.

Pavel announced he is also going to Kyiv soon.

“This is not only a clear signal that the Czech Republic’s support of Ukraine will continue, but also that I – as a person – see this as essential not only for the security of the Czech Republic, but also for all of Europe,” he declared. The politician also spoke positively on the creation of NATO equipment warehouses and logistics centers in Poland in support of Ukraine and stressed it has to be reconstructed after the war.

President Pavel will meet with President Andrzej Duda as well as the Speaker of the Lower House of the Polish Parliament Elżbieta Witek and Senate Speaker Tomasz Grodzki in Warsaw, on Thursday. On Friday, the Czech president will be meeting with Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki

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