New Polish premier wants more US military presence

Staff Writer
Columbus CEO

WARSAW, Poland (AP) — Poland's new prime minister said Wednesday that she will seek a greater U.S. military presence in the country as the conflict in neighboring Ukraine has made Poland's security and U.S.-Polish relationship even more important.

Later Wednesday the Parliament voted 259-183 with seven abstentions to grant Ewa Kopacz and her government a vote of confidence for their one-year mission.

Kopacz took over from Donald Tusk, democratic Poland's longest serving prime minister, who resigned to take a key European Union job.

She vowed to take a "pragmatic" approach to Ukraine, putting Poland's security first, but said she would not agree to a change in Europe's borders "by force," as took place in Crimea.

Under Tusk, Poland was one of Europe's strongest critics of Russian aggression in Ukraine. Kopacz's remarks suggested that her government will still support Ukraine, but will be less outspoken on Russia.

"We support the pro-European direction in Ukraine's development, but we cannot step in for the Ukrainians, who have the responsibility to change their own country," she said.

Kopacz said that in view of the conflict her government will make "every effort to obtain a greater U.S. military presence in Poland."

Kopacz indicated that her team, composed of the same coalition as Tusk's, would continue the predecessors' policies of strengthening Poland's position in the EU and seeking to build a strong joint policy. Her government is to serve until national elections next fall.

She said that, like Tusk, she would urge the EU to develop a common energy policy to protect individual countries against the monopoly practices and delivery cuts that are the practice of the Russian gas supplier, Gazprom.

In a sign of continuity, Kopacz avoided committing herself to a date for Poland's adoption of the European currency, but said that the moment would be right when Poland's economy is stable and the eurozone is strong.