France’s Macron calls for closer ties with Poland

French President’s visit to Poland was his first since he was elected in 2017

French President Emmanuel Macron delivers a speech to students and intellectuals at the Jagiellonian University for a lecture on the future of a united Europe in Krakow, Poland, Tuesday, Feb. 4, 2020.(AP Photo/Czarek Sokolowski)
Powered by automated translation

French President Emmanuel Macron ended a two-day visit to Poland with a speech calling on the country and the EU to forge deeper ties.

“I came to tell you that France never forgets Poland, this country that has a special place in our hearts and minds, that France loves Poland,” Mr Macron said at Jagiellonian University in Krakow on Tuesday. "Don’t ever forget it.

“France and Europe can’t be great without a proud Poland."

After meeting Polish President Andrzej Duda on Monday, he said France sought a turning point in strained ties between the two countries, and that Brexit required a new dynamic among the remaining members of the EU.

Mr Macron announced a summit with Poland and Germany in the coming months under the "Weimar Triangle" framework that fell out of favour in recent years.

Poland's controversial judicial reforms, which the EU has warned undermine the rule of law, and its position on EU climate goals have affected ties with Paris and other EU members in recent years.

Mr Macron has criticised Poland’s right-wing government and its policies of refusing to accept migrants, continuing reliance on coal and trying to bring the judiciary under political control.

His predecessor, Francois Hollande, cancelled a visit in 2016 after Warsaw scrapped a planned purchase of French helicopters.

Mr Macron said he hoped for greater defence co-operation with Poland over Libya and in Africa's Sahel, where France is leading international efforts against extremists south of the Sahara.

Mr Macron urged "political dialogue" with Russia but assured the Poles that "France is neither pro-Russian nor anti-Russian, it is pro-European".

Warsaw is among the strongest advocates of continued sanctions against Russia over its 2014 annexation of Crimea from Ukraine.

As he rethinks French and European foreign policy, Mr Macron has looked to Russia for possible rapprochement.

But he said the development of European defence mechanisms would complement Nato, rather than undermine it.

Mr Duda spoke of a breakthrough in ties with Paris and welcomed the signing of a Polish-French co-operation programme as part of their "strategic partnership".

He said that Brexit brought a "new hand of cards and new opening. Roles in the EU will have to be rearranged".