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Andrzej Duda at a meeting with the diplomatic corps. He talked about Ukraine, military spending, NATO and the food crisis

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We have become participants in history that will probably determine the shape of Europe, the West and the entire globe, said President Andrzej Duda, addressing the diplomatic corps. He drew attention to the issue of investing in the army and talked about countries that do not spend much on defense. “Faced with a full-scale war right on the eastern border of NATO and the European Union, we must demand a quick change of this short-sighted policy,” he said. In his opinion, such savings are made at the expense of “Lithuanians, Poles, Latvians, Estonians or Romanians.”

On Thursday, at the Presidential Palace, the president Andrzej Duda and first lady Agata Kornhauser-Duda met with heads of diplomatic missions accredited in Poland. The President recalled that this was the first meeting of such a group after two years of break. – I am glad that we have returned to the practice of face-to-face meetings, because I care about this form of contact with you, talking to you – he said.

– I would also like to thank you for all your activities in this difficult time for all of us, during the pandemic, and today during the war that is taking place in Ukraine as a result of Russian aggression – he added.

Duda: Poland made a strategic decision last winter

– Probably few of you expected before starting your mission, here in Poland, that you are going to a country that will be in the center of world events in the first months of last year, and that suddenly cities, previously considered distant, such as Przemyśl or Rzeszów , will become a place of arrival and departure of the most important people from your countries – announced the president.

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As Duda continued, “you and I have become participants in history that will probably determine the shape of Europe, the West and the entire globe for decades, and who knows, maybe even longer.”

He also emphasized that “Poland made a strategic decision last winter – in the face of Russia’s intimidation of neighboring Ukraine, we decided not to be neutral towards acts of aggression.” – Two reasons guided me and my colleagues. First of all, we believed that Ukraine was able to successfully face Russia, as long as it received weapons and financial support from the free world, the West. Secondly, we were convinced that if Russia’s demands met with concessions from the international community, Moscow would terrorize our entire part of the continent, he continued.

President Andrzej Duda and First Lady Agata Kornhauser-Duda and US Ambassador to Poland Mark Brzezinski during the New Year’s meeting of the presidential couple with the Heads of Diplomatic Missions accredited in PolandPAP/Andrzej Lange

“The time of the end of history has unfortunately passed”

As Duda continued, “Russia’s barbaric aggression forced the world to redefine its existing geopolitical arrangements and the international security situation.” “A renewed Russian attack on independent Ukraine is a factor dramatically changing the security situation in Europe and our allies,” the president assessed during a meeting with the diplomatic corps.

According to him, the stakes of this war are huge for all of us, “and geographical location is irrelevant here, because now almost the whole world has to deal with the consequences of the energy and food crises caused by Moscow.” “Let’s face it, the goal of the Kremlin regime is not to solve, but to exacerbate these crises, to make them more and more severe for the world,” he said.

Referring to experts’ estimates, he said that up to 70 million people in the world are at risk of starvation. – 70 million is more than the inhabitants of France, almost twice as much as the entire population of Poland. We must not close our eyes to these facts, he assessed.

President Andrzej DudaPAP/Andrzej Lange

The president stressed that because of the Russian attack and food blackmail, all these people are at risk of starvation. – It’s them too Vladimir Putin took hostage. We cannot allow such actions to go unpunished and not be met with the reaction of the international community, because the lives of millions of people are at stake, often already affected by a very difficult or even dramatic situation – he emphasized.

The president also noted that “Poland does not shirk its responsibility for developing solutions to the challenges mentioned here.” “Hence our support for the agreement negotiated under the auspices of the UN Secretary General and our readiness to participate in the transport of Ukrainian grain,” he said. At the same time, he added that “in the long term, however, we need to redefine our security policy.” – The time of the end of history has unfortunately passed – added Andrzej Duda.

President on military spending. “We must demand a quick change to this short-sighted policy”

During his speech, the Polish leader also referred to the challenges related to the country’s national security. – Investments in the army are investments in the security and stability not only of ours, of Poland, but also of the whole of Europe, and given the extent of NATO, one can say that the world as well – he assessed.

In his opinion, “it is also important for those countries that, despite the decisions taken at the summit in Wales in 2014, still do not spend at least 2 percent of GDP on defence.” – Today, in the face of a full-scale war right on the eastern border of NATO and the European Union, we must demand a quick change of this short-sighted policy in favor of a more solidarity and loyal approach towards the most threatened allies – he appealed.

He added that such savings are made at the expense of “Lithuanians, Poles, Latvians, Estonians and Romanians.” We cannot accept this as allies. Allies don’t do that. I say this on behalf of the state, which supplied armaments for the fighting Ukraine not from outdated equipment warehouses, but from its own units, taking them away from its soldiers so that Ukrainians would have something to defend their land and their homes with, he stressed.

The president noted that it was important to maintain allied cooperation with partners such as the US, Great Britain, the countries of the Bucharest Nine and the Baltic States. – There are also new important partners on the horizon, such as the Republic of Korea, which has recently become our important partner in the military field, and perhaps also in the energy field. There is no doubt that the main guarantor of stability and security in the transatlantic area is NATO, he declared.

The president also expressed his hope that at the next NATO summit in Vilnius, further decisions will be made to consolidate transatlantic ties and to strengthen the eastern flank of the North Atlantic Alliance. – There is no doubt that if NATO is threatened with an invasion, it is threatened from the east. In this context, any talks about Europe’s strategic autonomy, understood in fact as a partial weakening of cooperation with the US, should be considered not only pipe dreams, but also dangerous ideas for a large part of the continent, he said.

“Unjust peace ends in more wars”

Duda also referred to the issue of difficulties in global international relations. In this context, he mentioned justice as the basis for peace – “including the one that should end Russian aggression against Ukraine.” “Unjust peace ends with another war, and we all want the one that is currently going on and affecting Ukraine in such a terrible way to be the last one in our lives, our children, grandchildren and God bless the next generations,” he said.

According to him, “a just peace is one that restores the territorial integrity of Ukraine, forces Russia to stop occupying parts of Georgia and Moldova, to withdraw troops from Belarus and stop maintaining a puppet regime, stop inflaming and fueling conflicts in the Balkans, terrorizing its border states, sponsoring mercenaries in African countries and scaring the world with hunger. “A just peace also means recognizing the right of every nation to decide its own future,” he continued.

“The war postponed many of these plans, but I do not intend to abandon them”

The President declared that Poland supports Ukraine in NATO, as well as Ukraine, Moldova, Albania, North Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia in the EU, and the opening of Bosnia and Herzegovina. – I am also convinced that the Three Seas Initiative, the Bucharest Nine, the Polish-Ukrainian movement of brotherhood so strongly supported by our friends from the Baltic States, the Czech Republic and Slovakia, and Central European solidarity in the face of war in Ukraine create a new identity for our region. We are becoming a family of countries and nations created by common history, geography, kinship and linguistic and interpersonal ties on the basis of a common fate, continued Andrzej Duda. He also expressed his conviction that all countries in the region would be involved in the reconstruction of Ukraine after the war. – I am appealing for us, as a region, as the Three Seas Initiative, to work on including Ukraine and Moldova in the European transport, energy and digital data transmission systems as soon as possible, as well as on the urgent integration of these countries with the European community – urged the president. He added that before the war in Ukraine there were plans for “Poland to pursue a more global agenda”. – I wanted a new opening with the countries of Latin America, Sub-Saharan Africa and the Indo-Pacific. I also planned visits to the Middle East, supported by a business component, he said. “Of course, the war has put many of these plans on hold, but I’m not going to abandon them.” These are the tasks, I believe, for the rest of my presidency. Poland is a large European country and its agenda must be global, he declared.

Main photo source: PAP/Andrzej Lange

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