Macron's visit very important for bilateral ties - President Duda

2020-02-03 19:25 update: 2020-02-10, 13:12
Polish President Andrzej Duda (R) and his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron (L).Photo PAP/ PAP/Radek Pietruszka
Polish President Andrzej Duda (R) and his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron (L).Photo PAP/ PAP/Radek Pietruszka
Polish President Andrzej Duda told a joint press conference with his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron in Warsaw on Monday that the Polish visit by the French head of state was extremely important for Poland.

President Duda added that he believed that this visit was a breakthrough in Polish-French relations. 

Before the press conference, the Polish and French foreign ministers, Jacek Czaputowicz and Jacques-Yves Le-Drian, respectively, signed a programme of strategic cooperation between Poland and France. Le-Drian and the Polish minister of digital affairs Marek Zagorski also signed a declaration of intent regarding the consolidation of Polish-French cybersecurity cooperation.

"We are very pleased with today's visit to Warsaw by the French president and the French delegation, which is composed of many ministers. This entire event is of great significance for us. I deeply believe that it is a breakthrough in Polish-French relations," Duda said.

According to Duda, the signing of the programme of strategic cooperation between Poland and France is the implementation of the declaration signed in May 2008. He also added that the signed declaration regulated cooperation in many fields, including the military, political and economic spheres. 

In the context of Brexit, Duda said that "Brexit is a completely new situation for the EU," and added that this surely made France a European superpower. "Undoubtedly, France's role in the EU after Brexit is significantly growing," he said.

Duda repeated that Brexit meant a new opening, and that the European architecture would have to be somehow rebuilt. He added that this should be done to the benefit of EU states and societies "so that the EU could be more effective and more attractive in future," and no one would ever think of leaving it.

Duda and Macron also discussed military and energy security. Duda observed that energy security could not be debated in detachment from climate issues. With regard to military cooperation he stressed that Poland wanted to participate in the design and construction of a European tank, adding that this could be a field for cooperation between Poland and France.

Macron said his visit to Poland was the first as French president, and stressed that after Brexit the EU had to tighten its alliance to "be able to function in an uncertain world."

Referring to Polish-French ties, Macron noted that "bilateral ties show that our countries are closer than it would seem." In this context he reminded that France was the fourth-biggest foreign investor and French firms the third-biggest employer in Poland.

Macron also said that in his opinion Poland and France could cooperate more in energy, cyber security, industry and defence.

"I would like this visit to be a turning point for our joint European role," Macron said.

Turning to NATO affairs, Macron assured that the Alliance will remain the mainstay of European security, and that France was a committed NATO member fully engaged in the protection of the eastern NATO flank. In this context he decried "misunderstandings" around France's security strategy and relations with Russia, stressing that the French position was "wrongly viewed as contradictory."

Macron also emphasised the importance of raising defence spending, and said that EU defence strategies should not be seen as competitive to NATO's but as complementary.

Commenting on France's relations with Russia, Macron said that contrary to some voices France has not become pro-Russian. He added that Paris was "neither pro-Russian nor anti-Russian, but pro-European."

"I think that when we look at the map, we see the same: Russia is located in Europe, and even if it is not a member of the EU, it is our neighbour. We cannot afford a situation in which we fail to address the need to build relations with Russia," the French president said.

Macron said that during his talks with Duda he voiced concern over Poland's current justice reforms, and said he wished for a more intensive dialogue in the matter between Poland and the EC.

Duda chief aide Krzysztof Szczerski informed that Macron also invited Duda for June 14 celebrations of France's national day, which Duda countered with an invitation to him to attend centenary observations of the 1920 Battle of Warsaw, in which Polish forces halted a Europe-advancing Red Army. (PAP)