UK and Poland play down EU problems to focus on Russia | News | DW | 21.12.2017
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UK and Poland play down EU problems to focus on Russia

UK Prime Minister Theresa May has met with Polish counterpart Mateusz Morawiecki at a time of contentious relations with the EU for both their countries. They vowed to intensify security cooperation regarding Russia.

There was much to discuss as Theresa May met with Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki in Warsaw on Thursday.

Some pressing topics — on relations with Brussels — required a great deal of diplomatic tact, but there were also areas where the two were able to be much more straight talking, such as increased defense cooperation.

Touchy subjects

In a week that saw Theresa May's First Secretary of State Damian Green step down for lying about pornography on his office computer, and Poland face the threat of punishment from the European Commission over its plans to overhaul its justice system, both leaders made an effort to show support for one another.

Read more: Brexit: Brussels decries 'unacceptable' remarks by David Davis

Britain is hoping for Polish support in the midst of Brexit negotiations overseeing its withdrawal from the EU. Asked about the issue at a joint press conference, Polish Prime Minister Morawiecki said: "I am satisfied with the state of (Brexit) negotiations that we have reached. I have deep hopes and conviction that our French and German partners aim to work out the best solution in this new, not easy situation, that we are in with respect to Brexit."

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Trying not to get involved

May's turn to be diplomatic came when addressing the issue of this week's move by the European Commission to invoke Article 7 of the 2009 Lisbon Treaty, which would deprive Poland of its voting rights if it continued to move forward with its overhaul of its judicial system. Asked about this unprecedented situation, May said: "These constitutional issues are normally, and should be primarily a matter for the individual country concerned." The closest she came to voicing criticism was to say, "Across Europe we have a collective belief in the rule of law." She also underlined her support for the fact that the Polish prime minister had agreed to meet with the European Commission, and her "hope that it will lead to a satisfactory resolution."

Read more: Poland to negotiate Patriot missile defense system with US, test Airbus helicopters

Working together

One major issue the two did not need to skirt was that of defense and security cooperation. Specifically, the two stressed increased security cooperation in the face of Russian aggression.

"We are both deeply concerned by Russia's attempts of spreading misinformation," May told reporters. "The Kremlin is seeking to undermine the international rules-based system and it will not succeed," she added.

The two countries have close ties as fellow NATO members and the UK sees great opportunities to increase sales related to defense and security industries, especially considering the fact that Poland is in the middle of modernizing its armed forces. May and Morawiecki signed a defense and security co-operation treaty in Warsaw as well. The groundwork for the signing was laid this October when defense and foreign ministers from each country met in London. At the time, UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said: "UK-Poland relations are at an all-time high and will only grow stronger over the coming years."

js/rc (AP, Reuters)

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