Sunday

19th Feb 2017

Polish minister: EU and Nato might fall apart

  • Sikorski: 'And where is Poland in this black vision? Left to its own devices' (Photo: consilium.europa.eu)

Polish foreign minister Radek Sikorski has said the EU could unravel and the US might quit Nato, leaving Poland alone to face an increasingly assertive Russia.

He painted the "black scenario" in a speech to MPs in Warsaw on Thursday (29 March), at a time when other EU leaders are saying the worst of the financial crisis is over.

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Noting that the US is already more interested in the Pacific than in Europe and that EU countries are becoming more selfish, he outlined a future in which open borders and open labour markets are dismantled, less money goes into the EU budget and important projects - such as the European External Action Service - become "completely eroded."

"Tired by parsimony on defence budgets and Europe's general inefficiency, the US leaves Nato. The post-Western vacuum is filled by Russia in the east and by China in Asia. Transformational crises continue in the Arab world [but] Europe no longer sets a good example. And where is Poland in this black vision? Left to its own devices, on the periphery of a Europe mired in lethargy. Struggling with unfinished modernisation and deprived of a solid basis for national security."

Sikorski outlined the risk in order to justify giving more sovereignty to Brussels to create a "lasting political union."

He said Warsaw still wants to join the euro, but that profligate countries, such as Greece, must pay a price for their bad ways.

"Countries - unlike Poland - which neglected reforms, which lived above their means, funded over-generous welfare and pension systems and lost the trust of markets, now risk losing the ability to control their own financial and economic policies," he said. "There's nothing wrong with that ... no country has the right to live at the expense of others."

The minister also named Poland's top allies inside and outside the EU.

"Our most important partner in Europe, due to the size of our trade relations, but more and more due to our similar economic culture and political conceptions, is Germany ... It's hard to get anything through in the Union without Germany," he noted.

He said France "is beginning to recognise Poland's contribution to creating strong European leadership." But he could not resist boasting that Polish five-year bond costs are now lower than French ones.

He noted that Poland works "arm-in-arm" with Sweden on reforming post-Soviet countries. But he had harsh words for the UK and for Hungary.

He said Poland is "disappointed" the UK does not want to build joint EU defence capabilities and that pro-EU-defence countries should trigger the enhanced co-operation clause in the Lisbon Treaty to go ahead anyway.

He said that Hungary - under fire for Prime Minister Viktor Orban's right-wing reforms - "carries the responsibility for the reputation of our whole region in terms of respect for democratic norms."

Outside the Union, he said "our most important partner is still the United States."

He added that Poland will continue to work on reconciliation with its past tormentor, Russia. But he indicated that pulling Ukraine out of Russia's sphere of influence is a higher priority.

"Ukraine remains our most important non-Atlantic strategic partner. We are still ready to support it, if it really chooses a European path. We appeal to the Ukrainian authorities to create [the right] political conditions - part of which are proper treatment of the opposition and the quality of electoral and judicial processes - for the signature and entering into life of its association agreement with the Union," Sikorski said.

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