Macron "concerned" with judiciary reforms. French president visits Warsaw

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Plenary session of French and Polish delegations in WarsawTVN24
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TVN24Plenary session of French and Polish delegations in Warsaw

This event is of great importance to us, but above all I sincerely hope it would mark a breakthrough in Polish-French relations - President Andrzej Duda said on Monday at a joint conference with French President Emmanuel Macron. The French head of state came to Warsaw for a two-day visit. "Our countries are closer than one might think" - he said at the conference.

"We're very happy to have Mr President and the whole French delegation today here in Warsaw, in Poland. A very broad delegation that includes many ministers. This whole event is of great importance to us, but above all I sincerely hope it would mark a breakthrough in Polish-French relations" - President Duda said at a joint conference with President Macron.

Mr Duda called a declaration on Polish-French strategic partnership, signed by the foreign ministers from both countries, a breakthrough, and stressed that it was a fulfilment of mutual declaration on strategic cooperation signed in 2008. Polish president also said the document would regulate cooperation in many areas, including military, politics and economy.

Emmanuel Macron stressed it was his first visit to Poland as French president and first European visit this year.

"We're in a time when the new European Commission has begun its work. A era emerges after the Brexit - we must unite, tighten our covenant, so we can function in the uncertain world. We understand the European situation and we must take up European challenges" - the French president said.

He also commented on the documents signed ahead of the conference. "These are important documents as, 12 year after signing of the previous declaration, we're setting directions for strategic cooperation on cybersecurity, climate, energy security, economy - these documents designate common goals" - Macron added.

"France could help Poland"

"The bilateral relations show that our countries are closer than one might think" - Macron stressed.

"How many people realise that France is the fourth-biggest investor in Poland, that over a thousand companies run business here, that they are the third-largest employer in Poland, employing 200.000 workers?" - French president asked. He expressed he was sure that the French-Polish cooperation could allow both countries to achieve much more in the areas of energy, cybersecurity, industrial cooperation, security and defence. "We have a lot of work to do" - Macron said. "We have many common issues and beliefs when it comes to the European agenda" - he added. The French president mentioned industry and energy issues. "France could help Poland in these areas" - he declared.

"Concern with judiciary reforms"

Macron also said that in conversation with President Duda he expressed "concern with the ongoing reforms of the justice system". "I wish that, in the coming weeks, the dialogue with the European Commission would intensify. I know that Poland, as its history shows, has freedom and justice rooted deeply within".

He added that in his view "Poland is a deeply European state, and Poles are one of the most pro-European nations on the continent".

"I think this is a huge force and I believe we all can and should benefit from it" - he said.

Neither pro-, nor anti-Russian

President Macron stressed the importance of deeper military integration among EU states - a message likely to appeal to Poland and other former communist satellites of the Soviet Union that are unnerved by Russia's assertiveness since it annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014.

"I'll be happy the day Polish people can tell each other: 'The day I'm attacked, I know Europe can protect us'. Because that day, the sense of European belonging will be indestructible," Macron said during the conference with President Duda.

Macron, whose rapprochement with Russian President Vladimir Putin in recent months has caused concern in Poland and eastern Europe, sought to offer reassurance, saying: "France is neither pro-Russian nor anti-Russian; it is pro-European."

Nearly three months after sparking controversy by calling the American-led transatlantic NATO alliance "brain-dead", Macron declared that "European defence is not an alternative to NATO, it's an indispensable complement".

Plane controversy

Relations between Poland and France soured in 2016 after Poland's nationalist Law and Justice (PiS) government scrapped a 3.4 billion dollar helicopter deal with the European manufacturer Airbus, which France thought was largely agreed.

Since then, there have been clashes over issues ranging from climate change policy, where the PiS government remains firmly wedded to coal-fired power stations, and Poland's adherence to the rule of law - a bitter bone of contention with Brussels.

Macron, a fervent European integrationist, has decried nationalist governments such as Poland's and, along with the EU executive in Brussels, criticised efforts by PiS to bring courts and media under closer government control.

Duda signalled Poland's readiness to take part in a project to create a European tank.

"Today France is definitely a power on a European scale, and France's role after Brexit will without doubt grow," he said.

Both countries want to keep generous funding for their agricultural sectors in the next EU budget, but Paris wants the bloc to take a bigger role in managing inward migration and on the climate, while Warsaw rejects EU policies on both matters.

Macron may, however, be keen to explore new alliances in Europe amid tensions with Germany over his ambitious EU reform plans, and said he wanted to hold a summit with Germany and Poland in the coming months.

President Duda gave his French counterpart a gift: Henryk Sienkiewicz's "Quo vadis" and Olga Tokarczuk's "The Books of Jacob" in French translationJakub Szymczuk/KPRM

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Źródło: TVN24 News in English, PAP, Reuters

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