Lithuanians have high expectations for new Polish president

Andrzej Duda

Exit polls show Duda, representing the conservative opposition Law and Justice party, won the Sunday vote, beating Poland’s incumbent President Bronislaw Komorowski.

“One of the possible changes is Poland’s stronger position towards Russia, although we have to take into account the fact that the new president will work with a government formed by other parties, which will inevitably slow down foreign policy changes,” Vilpišauskas told BNS on Monday.

In his words, the change of the president in Poland will create conditions for Lithuania and Poland to step up coordination of their position on Russia, events in the Eastern Neighborhood. But it remains to be seen how this change will affect bilateral Lithuanian-Polish relations, the expert added.

Former PM expects focus on regional ties

Former conservative Lithuanian Prime Minister Andrius Kubilius expects Poland’s President-Elect Andrzej Duda to focus on regional ties rather than on Warsaw’s efforts to establish itself among the EU elite.

“I hope they will return to late Polish President Lech Kaczynski’s policy that Poland was a natural geopolitical leader in the region, given Russia’s existing aggression,” Kubilius told BNS on Monday.

“It would be important, since recently, especially during Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski’s dominance in foreign policy, Poland has been focused on establishing itself among Europe’s top countries and being in the top league with Europe’s major players, and not taking care of regional security,” he added.

Meanwhile Gediminas Kirkilas, the Social Democratic chairman of the Seimas Committee on European Affairs, says the new Polish president “is more in the mood to strengthen Poland’s ties with NATO”.

He noted that Warsaw would host a NATO summit in 2016, during which Duda “will undoubtedly pay a lot of attention” to the Alliance’s increased presence in Eastern Europe.

Kirkilas believes Duda’s foreign policy line will be similar to that of late President Kaczynski who died in a plane crash in 2009.

“And what the relationship was then? At the time, the relationship between Kaczynski and our then President Valdas Adamkus were very active,” Kirkilas said.

No major changes

Meanwhile Lithuanian Minister of Foreign Affairs Linas Linkevičius does not expect any major foreign policy changes in Poland.

“There might some changes, naturally, but (…) I wouldn’t expect any major changes. We have to wait for the official results,” he told journalists on Monday. “We respect any choice of the neighbouring country and we are ready to cooperate with elected leaders.”

The Lithuanian foreign minister believes the upcoming general elections this autumn might bring more changes to Poland where Andrzej Duda won the presidential election on Sunday, beating the country’s incumbent leader Bronislaw Komorowski.

Linkevičius called Poland “Lithuania’s closest neighbour and strategic partner” and underlined the importance of the country’s relations in the areas of security and energy.

“If certain differences occur, they are overshadowed by challenges and the importance of common goals. I think our cooperation will be based on pragmatism,” the Lithuanian minister said.

Lithuanian and Polish relations have been clouded recently by Warsaw’s reproach regarding the Polish minority’s situation in Lithuania.

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