Polish-Lithuanian relations better than in a long time - Polish president

2019-11-21 20:13 update: 2019-11-24, 19:17
Polish and Lithuanian presidents. Photo PAP/Piotr Nowak
Polish and Lithuanian presidents. Photo PAP/Piotr Nowak
Polish President Andrzej Duda said after a meeting with his Lithuanian counterpart Gitanas Nauseda in Vilnius on Thursday that the sanctions imposed on Russia should be upheld. He added that Polish-Lithuanian relations had not been this good in a long time.

President Duda and his wife arrived in Vilnius on Thursday to attend on Friday the burial of the remains of insurgents who took part in the Polish January Uprising in 1863 against Russia. The ceremony will also be attended by Duda's Lithuanian counterpart, Gitanas Nauseda, Polish and Lithuanian PMs Mateusz Morawiecki and Saulius Skvernelis, the deputy prime ministers of Ukraine and Belarus, the Latvian culture minister and deputy speakers of both houses of the Polish parliament.

Referring to the Friday burial ceremonies, President Duda underlined that this would be an event which will pay homage to heroes of several Central European countries, who opposed tsarist Russia. He also emphasised that the burial was important for historical identity and remembrance, as well as for the strengthening of ties and the building of Polish-Lithuanian friendship.

"Let me underline that the atmosphere of Polish-Lithuanian relations is better now than it has been in a long time," Duda told reporters.  

The Polish president added that his talks with Nauseda concerned joint infrastructure investments, energy cooperation, security, military collaboration and the situation in Ukraine.

"Together with the Lithuanian president, we have no doubts that the sanctions (imposed on Russia - PAP) should be upheld since they are connected with the ongoing occupation of the Ukrainian territory. We are thinking here about Crimea, as well as the Lugansk and Donetsk regions," he went on to say.

"This is a situation, which no one in today's Europe can accept and we must not accept it, since there is nothing worse than changing borders in a modern Europe by force. This is something repeating itself in Europe after 2008 and this can meet neither with our approval nor with our silent consent," he emphasised.

Duda said that they also spoke about NATO and agreed that "everything should be done to fulfil obligations which have been undertaken by the alliance to date, with special emphasis on the presence of NATO troops on the eastern flank."

The Polish president stressed that taking into account the 360-degree approach, according to which all security directions in NATO were important, they both were ready to take upon themselves co-responsibility for the security of the entire alliance.

Other subjects of the meeting included the future EU budget, with special emphasis on the Common Agricultural Policy and Cohesion Policy.

"We agreed that cohesion funds should not be reduced since cohesion policy is extremely important not only for our part of Europe, but also for the entire EU, because we have been admitted to the EU not only to make us feel good, but also to have our markets opened in order to run businesses and earn money there," he emphasised.

Referring to bilateral relations, President Duda said that "Polish-Lithuanian relations have not been this good in a long time" and expressed hope for an agreement regarding education of the Polish minority in Lithania and the Lithuanian minority in Poland. He also invited President Nauseda to attend the observances of the 610th anniversary of the Battle of Grunwald (the battle on July 15, 1410 was won by the Polish and Lithuanian troops fighting against German-Prussian Teutonic Knights - PAP).  

President Nauseda told reporters that apart from infrastructure, energy and transport projects they had discussed, they also spoke about NATO and agreed that it was the most important guarantee of security.

He underlined that both sides stated that their obligations towards NATO were unchanging and that they still considered the alliance as the most significant safeguard of security.  
In 1863-1864, Russian troops executed 21 leaders and participants of a revolt against the Russian Empire, which had partitioned Poland together with Prussia and Austria Hungary at the end of the 18th century. The victims' bodies were buried in secret. In 2017, during archaeological work, the burial sites of four insurgents were discovered. (PAP)