Poland’s president visits US to get election boost

Polish President Andrzej Duda heads to Washington to meet US President Donald Trump on Wednesday (24 June), only four days before presidential elections in Poland on 28 June. The last-minute visit to the White House is expected to give Duda a boost in the polls, with it being quite unusual for Washington to give this kind of election support to other countries’ leaders.

“I can say there will be good news from Washington,” Krzysztof Szczerski, the president’s chief of staff, said on Monday (22 June). “There will be three main topics: first of all, health, secondly, investments and development, and third, security.”

Security topics would cover energy, the Three Seas Initiative and cybersecurity, while health issues on the agenda concerned how to jointly tackle the COVID-19 pandemic, he added.

However, the many security observers assume the purpose of the visit might be a different one.

The Head of the National Security Office, Paweł Soloch, said on Monday (22 June) that the president had spoken to NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg and told him that during the meeting with Trump he would raise the issue of Polish-American defence cooperation.

Last June, Trump agreed to send 1,000 more troops to Poland. At the same time, Trump has confirmed plans to withdraw 9,500 American troops from bases in Germany, accusing Berlin of being “delinquent” in its payments to NATO, and said he would go ahead with the plan unless Berlin changed its course on defence spending.

Poland has been quick to offer to host some of these forces, after Warsaw presented a grand proposal in 2018 to name a military base in honour of Trump, in return for increased permanent US presence on its territory. Trump has called NATO member Poland, “an exemplary ally”.

Asked by EURACTIV, several US officials denied there are any considerations yet where the troops could effectively be relocated to.

Likewise, Stoltenberg told EURACTIV after the NATO ministerial last week there had been “no specific discussions about the composition of where the US troops are going to be deployed in the future in Europe”.

Polish PM Mateusz Morawiecki had previously said that Poland would welcome them on its soil, but no official declaration has been made.

(Alexandra Brzozowski, EURACTIV.com; Łukasz Gadzała | EURACTIV.pl)

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