Lithuania expects new Polish president to turn to Central Europe

Andrzej Duda

“There will be more concern about the Russian threats and more active work with regional partners,” Ramūnas Vilpišauskas, director of the Institute of International Relations and Political Science at Vilnius University, told BNS on Thursday.

In his words, this will be due to historic governance tradition of Duda’s political party, Law and Justice, which the new president left after being elected. More active ties with Central and Eastern Europe were maintained by the party’s member, former president Lech Kaczynski who was killed in an airliner crash in Russia in 2010. Duda was in close contact with the late president.

Margarita Šešelgytė, another political scientist at the institute, added that Poland’s choice to turn back to the region could also be determined by the disappointment in the cooperation with the European Union’s (EU) elite. In her words, Poland could have been disillusioned with the international format after the EU was only represented by France and Germany in the Minsk talks on deescalation of the Ukrainian conflict.

“In his election campaign, Duda noted that cooperation in the Weimar format does not always yield positive results for Poland, therefore, it is important to return to the Central and Eastern European format where Poland could do a lot,” said Šešelgytė.

In Vilpišauskas’ words, the relations between Poland and Lithuania would “depend on Lithuania’s settlement of the problems of name spelling in personal documents that have been raised for years”.

“Over past years, the most derelict thing was the personal connections between heads-of-state. This is what is lacking the most, as, in general, the Polish and Lithuanian interests in the region are the same. Good personal relations between leaders would contribute to the course of strategic infrastructure projects,” he told BNS.

Vytis Jurkonis, a political scientist at the institute, said that inauguration of Duda as Poland’s president should not lead to significant changes in the country’s policies, as decision-making in this large and democratic country does not depend on a single person.

Duda was Thursday inaugurated as Poland’s 6th president since 1989. In run-off voting on May 24, he secured 51.55 percent of the vote, defeating his predecessor Komorowski.

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