Macron visits Poland to ease bilateral tensions

Macron visits Poland to ease bilateral tensions

French President Emmanuel Macron has visited Poland in an attempt to ease bilateral tensions after he criticised Poland’s judicial shakeup. 

The populist Law and Justice (PiS) government also rejected a deal with Airbus in 2016.

Macron told a joint press conference with Polish President Andrzej Duda that he wanted to forget earlier “misunderstandings”. 

He stressed the importance of security alignment. 

“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 told the media.

The French leader’s improving relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin has caused concern in Poland and other central European states. He sought to ease fears, saying: “France is neither pro-Russian nor anti-Russian; it is pro-European.”

In late 2019 Macron called Nato ”brain-dead” but he told the Warsaw media that, “European defence is not an alternative to Nato, it’s an indispensable complement”.

The French president also announced a summit with Poland and Germany in the coming months under the “Weimar Triangle” framework which has been dormant in recent years.

“I mentioned with President Duda, in all frankness since we are partners in Europe, the worries that arise from the ongoing justice reforms,” the French centrist said. “I hope that dialogue with the European Commission will intensify in the coming weeks because I know the values of freedom and justice are anchored in Poland.”

Macron has promised to visit every EU leader to increase European coordination. 

In 2018 he accused Poland’s PiS government and Hungary’s populist Prime Minister Viktor Orban of “lying to their people” about EU powers to interfere in domestic politics.

The 42-year-old said Poland and France agreed on a digital tax, the European car-battery industry and the need to take on tax fraud.

But he said Poland should not benefit from the EU climate-transition funds until it commits to emissions-cutting goals. 

An EU deal in December to target carbon neutrality by 2050 was undermined by Poland’s rejection.

There are also tensions over defence policy. 

Poland is due to buy 32 F-15 aircraft (pictured) from the US-based Lockheed Martin in rejection of Macron’s calls for EU-made equipment. In 2016 Poland signed a US$3.5-billion helicopter agreement with Lockheed, scrapping an outline agreement with Airbus.

“I strongly believe this visit will be a breakthrough,” said Duda, who has regularly struck a more conciliatory tone than other PiS leaders. “It’s a historic moment, we just had Brexit, France is now an even stronger European superpower, and President Macron’s visit is a strong signal of French interest in the region.”



The F-15. Picture credit: US Command

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