Mark Brzezinski, nominated by US President Joe Biden as the new ambassador to Poland, attended a hearing before the US Senate on Wednesday. He announced that as the US ambassador to Warsaw, he would continue to promote the rule of law, fundamental rights and human rights, including LGBTQI + people.
Mark Brzezinski, during a hearing before the Senate’s foreign affairs committee, announced the continuation of “promoting our common commitments to support fundamental freedoms and the rule of law as essential to democracy and central to US-Poland relations.” – In particular, I will continue to emphasize in contacts with the Polish authorities the importance of an impartial judiciary, independent media and respect for human rights for all, including LGBTQI + people and members of other minorities – said the diplomat.
He announced that he would raise these topics directly in contacts with the Polish government, especially the issue of press freedom. “I come as an ambassador with a very clear message: America is for equality,” he announced.
Brzezinski: in our family, the words “Long live Poland” and “Poland has not died yet” meant something
Brzezinski emphasized that he knew Poland well, being the son of Zbigniew Brzeziński, a Fullbright scholarship holder and the author of a work on building democratic institutions – including the Constitutional Tribunal – and the rule of law in Poland after the fall of communism.
– My father did not speak fluent English until he was 15. In our family, the words “Long live Poland” and “Poland is not dead yet” meant something: common values and readiness to defend them – he said.
He added that he intends to act to strengthen defense relations with Poland, as well as to develop the Three Seas Initiative.
– If I am approved, I will cooperate with Poland to support the authorities and people of peace and the whole of Ukraine, as well as the aspirations of the Belarusian nation – emphasized Brzeziński, adding that he also counts on cooperation with Warsaw in the promotion of green energy, including nuclear energy.
During the Senate hearing, the issue of media freedom arose
During the hearing, both the head of the Democrat’s commission, Bob Menendez, and the highest-ranking Republican Jim Risch signaled that they expected the new ambassador to Warsaw to put strong emphasis not only on defense relations, but also on values.
– Being an ally requires more than just defense cooperation (…) The Polish government seems determined to consolidate control over previously free media and interference in the largest US investment in Poland – said Risch, referring to the TVN case, which it owns the American concern Discovery. – Values matter and I am sure that you will work hard in this matter – he added.
– Your task in Warsaw will be to call on the Polish government to fulfill its obligations as a NATO ally that supports an independent judiciary, free press and rights for all citizens – said Menendez. They both emphasized their support for Poland in the face of the “inhuman” and cynical actions of the Lukashenka regime on the eastern border and Poland’s contribution to the defense of NATO.
In response to Menendez’s question as to whether he would undertake to put pressure on the Polish government on issues of democratic values, Brzeziński replied “absolutely.”
– Poland’s borders must be safe, but in Poland there should also be a democratic renewal – said Brzezinski. He emphasized that freedom of the media is an absolutely fundamental value, but added that the reason for optimism in this matter was the announcement of President Duda’s announcement of a veto on the media law and the “freezing” of work on a project that would raise opposition to the US. He also announced that he would closely monitor the actions of the National Broadcasting Council and the Constitutional Tribunal in this matter. He assessed that the situation was “ironic”, taking into account the path Poland had followed after the fall of communism, as well as Poland’s upcoming OSCE presidency.
– It cannot be overestimated that the role of Poland as a NATO ally and a member of NATO and the EU is connected with obligations regarding democratic values and democratic practices – said Brzezinski.
The same topic was raised in questions by many other committee members, including Democrats Brian Schatz, Ben Cardin and Jeanne Shaheen.
Brzezinski on Nord Stream 2 and Chinese influence
Republican senator Ted Cruz asked Brzezinski about his attitude to the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline. In response, Biden’s nominee stated that he was opposed to the project as the US ambassador to Sweden in 2011 and strongly opposed it today. He also agreed that it is better to take action and restrictions before a possible Russian invasion of Ukraine than after the fact.
In response to Risch’s question about Chinese influence in Poland, Brzeziński emphasized the importance of the Three Seas Initiative, but also mentioned the draft legislation regarding Huawei’s access to 5G infrastructure in Poland. Brzezinski also regretted his speech at the 2019 Beijing conference. He stressed that he was too optimistic about the prospects of friendly relations with the PRC.
After receiving the commission’s recommendation, Brzezinski will have to be approved in a separate vote by the entire Senate, which may take place before the end of the year. However, the process may be delayed by the tight Senate calendar, as well as the blockade of the accelerated procedure by some republicans due to opposition to the administration’s policy on Nord Stream 2. So far, only 11 US ambassadors have been approved.
Main photo source: TVN24