March 4. 2024. 8:01

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Polish president visits London as relations reach new heights


Polish President Andrzej Duda began his two-day visit to the UK in a move which, according to an expert, further strengthens Polish-UK relations that have gradually tightened since the war in Ukraine.

Meeting at 10 Downing Street Thursday, Duda and UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak discussed the incoming NATO summit in Vilnius, their support for Ukraine, as well as security matters, more generally.

“We want as much NATO equipment as possible to be stationed at NATO’s Eastern flank,” said Duda, as quoted by the Polish Press Agency (PAP).

Reiterating what he told NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg the day before, Duda said Poland expects further reinforcement of the region’s defence.

The war in Ukraine has resulted in the relationship between Poland and the UK reaching a new level as both belong to Kyiv’s closest allies, and both prioritise national security, Professor Aleks Szczerbiak from the University of Sussex told PAP.

For Poland, the UK is attractive because it has a similar perception of Russia and understands that what is happening in Ukraine is not a single episode, but a part of the whole pattern of Russian aggression, the expert said.

Before Brexit, the Tories and Polish ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party belonged to the same faction in the European Parliament, the European Conservatives and Reformists.

However, with elections soon to come in both countries – this year’s parliamentary elections in Poland and UK general elections likely in 2024 – this relationship may develop in various directions, the expert added.

While Poland remains entangled in a conflict with the EU over controversial judicial reforms that Brussels believes paralysed the country’s judiciary independence, as well as LGBT rights, the British Conservative government has some objections to the rule of law in Poland and some moral issues, but generally sees security as a main priority, he explained.

According to him, things would look different with Labour rule, as the latter would be less tolerant and more eager to raise matters that PiS finds problematic.

On the Polish side, the opposition has declared willingness to return to the EU mainstream in case of electoral victory.

“But when it comes to the war in Ukraine, France and Germany did not prove as reliable partners, so the new government would have to care about its relations with London,” Szczerbiak also said.

(Aleksandra Krzysztoszek | EURACTIV.pl)