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21 October 2017
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Polish President softens NATO-Russia remarks

Kaczynski said: "There was not such a formulation (in the interview)..."

The European Commission, the EU´s executive responsible for Russia-EU dialogue, urged Poland not to hamper dialogue with Moscow, according to Javno.

Polish President Lech Kaczynski sought on Thursday to soften his remarks linking EU partnership talks with Russia with Georgia`s and Ukraine`s future membership of NATO.

Kaczynski told Reuters in an interview on Wednesday that before the partnership talks start, Poland would like to see agreement within the EU on whether the two former Soviet nations would receive a clear path towards NATO membership.

Asked at a news conference during a visit to Helsinki if Poland was setting such a condition to lift its veto of the EU-Russia talks, Kaczynski said: "There was not such a formulation (in the interview). I said that we should consider this ... I said that we should not rush with the (EU-Russia) talks."

An official at the president`s office said Kaczynski`s remarks were misinterpreted by some media which picked the interview as setting a formal condition for the talks.

In the Wednesday interview, Kaczynski said the issue of NATO membership for Ukraine and Georgia, opposed by Russia, was linked with a wider debate about the EU`s strategic partnership with Moscow.

"I must tie these two issues together even though I would prefer not to," he said.

Asked if Poland, which blocked EU-Russia talks in 2006 due to a now resolved trade dispute, would lift the veto to reassure Moscow, Kaczynski said:

"We certainly should talk, we certainly should build atmosphere in which mistrust is reduced. But whether the strategic (EU-Russia) talks can be unblocked in the near future is another matter."

"I would first like to know how the issue of MAP (Membership Action Plan) for Ukraine and Georgia is going to be resolved."

His remarks prompted a swift response from Russia, which warned Poland that attempts to link European Union partnership talks with NATO membership for former Soviet states risked making the EU a hostage to the military alliance.

"If Poland wants to make the EU a hostage to NATO then they are going about it in the right way," Interfax news agency quoted an unidentified senior Russian foreign ministry official as saying.

The European Commission, the EU`s executive responsible for Russia-EU dialogue, urged Poland not to hamper dialogue with Moscow.

"Poland has committed formally to support the adoption of the negotiating directives on the new agreement once Russian restrictions on export of (Polish) farm products are lifted," . European Commission spokesman Amadeu Altafaj Tardeu told a daily briefing in Brussels.

Javno

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