Poland’s new PM promises to push for full Western support of Ukraine

Donald Tusk says Poland will regain leadership position in Europe and will be strong part of NATO.

Donald Tusk, Poland’s newly elected prime minister, has pledged to win full Western support for Ukraine in its war against Russia and mediate past hurdles with the European Union.

Tusk spoke to parliament ahead of a confidence vote on Tuesday after his election victory, which paved the way for a new pro-EU government after eight years of far-right nationalist rule under the Law and Justice party, which had engaged in repeated disputes with Brussels.

“We will … loudly and decisively demand the full mobilisation of the free world, the Western world, to help Ukraine in this war. There is no alternative,” Tusk told lawmakers as he outlined his government’s plans.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is to hold talks with United States President Joe Biden later on Tuesday as he makes his case for more US aid for his country at a time of increasing doubts among many Republican lawmakers in the US Congress.

Tusk said it hurts him to hear that Zelenskyy has to keep trying to persuade world leaders about the need to continue supporting Kyiv’s struggle against Moscow.

“They say it to President Zelenskyy’s face that they no longer have the strength, that they are exhausted,” Tusk said.

Tusk also promised to resolve a monthlong blockade at the Ukraine border by Polish truckers, who are demanding the reintroduction of entry permits for their Ukrainian competitors.

“We found a way to meet the needs of Polish truckers as soon as possible and immediately unblock the border,” Tusk said.

A former European Council president, Tusk made clear to parliament that he plans to reposition Poland as a leader of the EU and will remain a loyal ally of the US and NATO.

“We are all the stronger, all the more sovereign when not only Poland is stronger but also the European Union,” Tusk said.

However, he insisted that he would uphold the interests of Poland foremost in any agreement. “Any attempts to change treaties that are against our interests are out of the question, … No one will outplay me in the European Union,” he said.

The prime minister also said he would go to Brussels this week and “bring back billions of euros”, referring to EU funds frozen under the previous government due to a row over the rule of law.

The previous government of the conservative nationalist Law and Justice Party (PiS) had been at loggerheads with Brussels for years over issues including judicial independence and minority rights, and led to billions of euros in funds from the bloc being frozen.

A series of judicial reforms, instituted in 2019, blocked Polish courts from applying EU laws in certain areas and barred courts from referring legal questions to the top EU court, the European Court of Justice (ECJ), which ruled in June that the changes violated the bloc’s standards on the rule of law.

“After returning from Brussels, I will go to Tallinn to meet the prime ministers of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia. Topics are obvious: the war, safe borders. We will strengthen cooperation with countries that share our views on this matter,” he said.

His cabinet is expected to be sworn in on Wednesday, allowing him to travel to Brussels for an EU summit on Thursday and Friday as the new prime minister.

Tusk, who was prime minister from 2007 to 2014, returns to power after nearly a decade as the head of a broad centrist alliance and nearly two months after October 15 elections, which were won by a coalition of parties that ran on separate tickets but promised to work together under his leadership.

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