• Romney's visit to Poland culminated a week long foreign tour also taking in the UK and Israel (Photo: Mitt Romney)

Romney: EU should look to Poland for economic model

01.08.12 @ 09:29

  1. By Andrew Rettman
  2. Andrew email

BRUSSELS - US presidential candidate Mitt Romney has described Poland as an economic model for Europe in the financial crisis.

Speaking at the Warsaw University Library in the Polish capital on Tuesday (31 July) he said: "Today, as some wonder about the way forward out of economic recession and fiscal crisis, the answer ... is 'Look to Poland'."

He noted that the Polish economy "last year outperformed all other nations in Europe."

He attributed Polish growth to its embrace of free market capitalism and budgetary discipine.

"Yesterday, one of your leaders shared with me an economic truth that has been lost in much of the world: 'It is simple. You don't borrow what you cannot pay back'," he said.

"Rather than heeding the false promise of a government-dominated economy, Poland sought to stimulate innovation, attract investment, expand trade and live within its means ... the principles of free enterprise can propel an economy and transform a society."

The speech tugged at the heart-strings of Polish history.

Romney celebrated Warsaw's uprising against Nazi occupation in 1944 and devoted large parts of his speech to the role of the late Polish Pope, John Paul II, in the overthrow of Communism in the 1980s.

He also took a swipe at modern Russia, saying "once-promising advances toward a free and open society have faltered."

His visit to Poland culminated a week-long foreign tour also taking in the UK and Israel.

After annoying British press by criticism of London's Olympic efforts and causing an outcry by denigrating Palestinian culture, the Polish leg of the tour also had problems.

Commentators saw his speech as a cold-blooded attempt to woo the votes of the 10-million-or-so Polish-origin Americans back in the US. They also noted he said nothing about lifting US visa requirements for Poles.

Meanwhile, his spokesman, Rick Gorka, yelled at US journalists to "kiss [his] ass" after they heckled Romney during his visit to a Polish military memorial.

In a sign the eurozone debt crisis is beginning to play an ever larger role in the US election campaign, President Barack Obama this week also portrayed himself as a leading player in solving Europe's problems.

On Tuesday, he telephoned Italian leader Mario Monti to "[ask] for his views on the situation on the eurozone and on likely developments," according to an Italian government statement.

In a campaign speech in New York on Monday, he said: "I don't think ultimately that the Europeans will let the euro unravel. But they are going to have to take some decisive steps."

"I'm spending an enormous amount of time trying to work with them - and [US treasury chief] Tim Geithner is spending a lot of time working with them - to recognise that the sooner they take some decisive action, the better off we're going to be."