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Polish FM: 'Russia trying to rewrite security architecture'

Vera TellmannApril 13, 2016

"There will be a deployment of NATO troops on the territory of the Eastern flank," Poland's Minister of Foreign Affairs Witold Waszczykowski told DW host Michel Friedman on this week's "Conflict Zone."

DW Conflict Zone mit Polens Außenminister Witold Waszczykowski
Witold Waszczykowski (right) and DW host Michel FriedmanImage: DW

Witold Waszczykowski made it clear he expected Poland's Western allies to make a long-term commitment to his country in order to protect it against Russia. "It's better to deter than to reconquer," the politician said.

"Russia is trying to change the situation in Europe or maybe outside of Europe. It is trying to rewrite and rebuild the security architecture," Waszczykowski said, adding:
"We have to keep a dialogue with the Russians and tell them that their behavior is wrong."

Waszczykowski, who has been foreign minister since November 2015, said permanent deployment of NATO troops was "the only answer to the current lack of security" in Eastern Europe. But so far, Warsaw’s NATO allies are only offering a temporary deployment of troops.

Waszczykowski, who is a member of the Polish parliament, was reluctant to touch upon issues like the rights of homosexuals, freedom of the press or abortion laws in his country. He said these were domestic matters outside his remit. Waszczykowski stated he did not participate in international political discussions about the rights of homosexuals or abortion laws or media policies, saying: "This is not on the agenda of ministers of foreign affairs."

On the international refugee crisis, the minister said: "We are talking about two groups of people: refugees and migrants. The majority of those who manage to come to Europe are migrants. We are not able to provide them shelter, because the labor market does not give them opportunities to work in Poland." Waszczykowski called the Polish position on refugees "quite open and transparent". He said refugees had to meet certain criteria, like providing identity documents or showing readiness to relocate.

Confronted by DW host Michel Friedman with remarks of Jaroslaw Kaczynski, who had claimed refugees would bring dangerous diseases into Poland, Waszczykowski did not contradict his party’s leader. Instead of answering Friedman's questions, he said each country had the right to pursue an individual migration policy.

Waszczykowski claimed, "only a few hundred" Syrians had applied for asylum in Poland so far, adding: "I don’t see any inclination of thousands of Muslims to go to Poland. They are not knocking at the doors."

On April 13, Michel Friedman joins DW's top political interview "Conflict Zone" as a host. Friedman is a lawyer, university lecturer and renowned journalist with more than 25 years of experience.

Tim Sebastian, who has been the host of "Conflict Zone" since September 2015, and Michel Friedman will take turns in presenting the weekly DW show. "Conflict Zone" airs every Wednesday at 17.30 UTC and is available online on demand.