Posts Tagged ‘Croatia’

Macron’s eurozone plans put eastern EU members on the spot

September 28, 2017

French President Emmanuel Macron is impatient to reinvigorate the eurozone. But this puts the EU’s eastern members in a dilemma: stay out and risk losing clout in Brussels or join and risk losing economic sovereignty?

USA Präsident Macron vor der UN-Vollversammlung (Reuters/S. Stapleton)

Macron reiterated his view this week that a multi-speed Europe led by a core of ‘avant-garde’ countries could be the price worth paying for pushing the eurozone — and the European project more widely — forward in the aftermath of the Brexit vote.

“We should imagine a Europe of several formats — going further with those who want to advance, while not being held back by states which want to progress slower or not as far,” Macron said.

“It appears that Macron would like a tighter, more centralized eurozone with France and Germany at its heart,” Liam Carson of Capital Economics told DW. “However, he remained fairly vague on euro-zone specifics, probably because of the worse than expected outcome for [German Chancellor Angela] Merkel in the German election.”

But Macron’s words have fallen on some deaf ears in Central and Eastern Europe, a region struggling with political uncertainty and growing Euroskepticism, despite continued strong growth.

Of the nine new member states that joined the EU in 2004-2009, the Baltic countries, Slovakia, Slovenia, Cyprus and Malta have adopted the euro, while Poland, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria and Croatia have not yet done so.

Critics argue that speeding up the process of monetary — as a precursor to fiscal — integration might fuel the overheating that was seen in Southern Europe after the 2007-8 financial crisis and subsequent recession.

But, “if the eurozone can generate growth throughout the 19 nations and not just the center, then any new institutions may prompt the non-euro members to want to join. If not, then the divisions would surely widen,” Linda Yueh, a professor of Economics at London Business School, told DW.

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‘It’s now or never’

Will Hutton, a British economist, told DW that while a two-speed Europe is a risk, “the time has come for this. Macron’s plans are the biggest boost to Europe since the early 1990s, the era of Jacques Delors.”

“Sure, Macron is using Merkel’s weakness, but Europe is on the cusp of an economic run and while some eastern European economies might not be able to stand the pace, Europe can’t go on at the speed of the slowest for much longer,” Hutton said, adding that the UK might even be knocking back on the EU’s door in the next five to ten years.

All non-euro EU member states except Denmark and the UK are already legally obligated to work toward adopting the euro, by satisfying various “convergence criteria,” namely:

Inflation — Member states should have an average rate of inflation that doesn’t exceed that of the three best-performing member states by over 1.5 percent for a period of one year before being assessed.

Government budgets — Member states’ ratio of planned or actual government deficit to GDP should be no more than three percent. Their ratio of government debt to GDP should be no more than 60 percent.

Exchange Rates — Member states should have respected the normal fluctuation margins of the exchange rate mechanism (ERM) and should not have devalued their currency against any other member state’s currency for at least the two years before being assessed.

Interest rates — Member states should have had an average interest rate over a period of one year before being assessed that does not exceed by more than two percentage points that of the three best-performing member states.

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Central & Eastern Europe: weary and ​​​​​wary 

“It seems unlikely that any of the major economies in Central and Eastern Europe will adopt the euro any time soon,” Carson says.

“With respect to the criteria, as things stand, Poland, Romania and the Czech Republic all meet the debt, interest rate and inflation criteria for joining,” although he added that there is a good chance that loose fiscal policy in Poland and Romania will cause budget deficits to widen beyond the 3 percent of GDP threshold by next year.

“Hungary’s deficit could also widen beyond 3 percent of GDP and with public debt still well above 60 percent of GDP, it also fails the debt criteria.”

“More importantly, political appetite for joining the euro is generally waning. Accession to the eurozone in Poland and Hungary is unlikely to happen under the ruling PiS (Law and Justice) and Fidesz governments, which have both become increasingly hostile towards EU oversight of domestic policy,” Carson says.

“Poland’s opposition is based on ideological grounds, but also public support is not sufficient. In the Czech Republic the main obstacle is public support. Most of the parties would have been open to introducing the euro, but public opinion has prevented that so far. In Hungary there is strong public support and a governmental decision ahead of the 2018 elections might be a popular step,” Daniel BarthaExecutive Director of the Center for Euro-Atlantic Integration and Democracy (CEID)  in Budapest, told DW.

The Palace of Culture and Science in WarsawPoliticians in Warsaw have warned that the creation of a multi-speed Europe could “break apart” the EU.

Poland

“Brexit is not a risk for the EU … A bigger threat is if the EU starts to break apart into a multi-speed union, into blocs where some are stronger and can decide about others,” President Andrzej Duda said this month. “The result could be a divided EU that’s not politically or economically viable, which may break apart the bloc,” he added.

The bedrock of common understanding that Merkel and ex-Polish PM Donald Tusk shared is now long gone. And ties between Warsaw and Paris have been strained since August after Macron’s speech criticizing what he called Warsaw’s attack on democracy and a French plan to tighten rules on EU posted workers, such as Polish truck drivers.

The Law and Justice (PiS) government has also taken aim at Germany, demanding war reparations, attacking plans to build a second Nord Stream gas pipeline to Russia that bypasses Poland and being highly critical of its western neighbor’s policies towards refugees.

Nonetheless, Poland will start to debate whether to join the eurozone when the bloc becomes a stable and transparent entity, Konrad Szymanski, the Polish deputy foreign minister in charge of European affairs, has said.

About 80 percent of Polish international trade is accountable in euros, so entering the eurozone will significantly decrease currency risk and simplify transactions with foreign companies. Despite this, over two-thirds of Poles oppose joining the euro area.

Prague, the Czech capitalA general election to be held October 20-21, will show whether the Czechs will seek to join the EU hard core.

Czech Republic

The Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka wants his country to set a date for the adoption of the euro and has “the ambition to belong among the most advanced European countries.”

The Czech Republic has been cautious about joining the euro, on both the left and the right. No firm date has been set and in recent years governments have shied away from making predictions.

The country has a long reputation for running a credible monetary policy and traditionally has had interest rates below those in the eurozone.

“In the Czech Republic, Andrej Babis, who is the heavy favourite to become Prime Minister following next month’s elections, has continued to strongly reiterate that the Czech Republic shouldn’t adopt the currency,” according to Carson.

Hungary

Hungarian economic policy cannot abandon its long-term intention of joining the eurozone, “but there is no rush,” the economy minister, Mihaly Varga, said in June. Vargo said a currency system where monetary policy is unified but fiscal policy is not is also a viable route.

But a senior Hungarian politician said in early August that Hungary could only consider adopting the euro when its level of economic development is closer to that of the eurozone countries.

“That is, if there is genuine convergence,” Andras Tallai, state secretary at the economy ministry, said.

Hungarian parliament bulilding is seen as ice floes float on the Danube river in Budapest In 2013, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán proclaimed euro adoption would not happen until the country’s purchasing power parity weighted GDP per capita had reached 90 percent of the eurozone average.

“Otherwise, Hungary could be the loser of accession similar to some Mediterranean countries,” he went on, adding that Hungary won’t yet enter the Exchange Rate Mechanism (ERM) — a kind of ante-chamber for eurozone aspirants — but already meets all of the Maastricht criteria for adopting the euro, with the exception of the forint not being pegged to the euro.

Hungary has to enter to the ERM2 (the exchange rate mechanism) and meet the criteria for 2 years constantly. Hungary meets all other criteria: inflation was 0.1 percent, the deficit 2.4 percent and interest rates are also around 1 percent, and although the debt level is beyond the 60 percent limit, as it is constantly reducing, Hungary also meet that criterion.

Romania

Romanian Prime Minister Sorin Grindeanu has said Romania will adopt the euro only after wages in the country come close to those in other EU member states.

Romania has second lowest minimum monthly wage out of 20 EU member states, of 1,450 lei ($341/321 euro), after Bulgaria, according to a study by KPMG.

A study conducted last November by the European Institute of Romania showed that the country could join the Eurozone 13 years from now – if it sustains the average growth rate of the last 15 years.

Currently, Romania is below 60 percent of the European Union average in terms of GDP per capita.

“The story is slightly different in Romania. The foreign minister, Teodor Melescanu, recently announced that Romania will adopt the euro. However, he stated that this won’t happen until 2022. And given that previous plans to adopt the euro have been shelved, this date could easily be delayed. In short, Romania won’t become a member of the euro-zone any time soon,” Carson says.

Frankreich PK Migrationsgipfel in Paris (Reuters/C. Platiau)Angela Merkel is supporting Macron’s call for a new powerful eurozone finance minister post to oversee economic policy across the bloc. She said the new role could provide “greater coherence” to economic policy.

Merkel holds the key

German Chancellor Angela Merkel also backed a plan for a European Monetary Fund (EMF) that would redistribute money within the bloc to where it was needed.

Macron believes that the monetary union suffers from too little centralization and needs its own budget, while Merkel views the bloc’s problem as over-centralization and too little national responsibility.

Merkel has backed her Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble‘s proposal to turn the European Stability Mechanism, the eurozone’s bailout fund, into the EMF, but she does not see the official possessing “expansive powers.”

Merkel has said she wants a budget of “small contributions” rather than “hundreds of billions of euros.”

France will implement these deep structural reforms on the proviso that Germany agrees to modest steps towards fiscal federalism in the eurozone. But many in Germany — and far beyond as well — appear skeptical about Macron’s ability to achieve his domestic goals.

Still, observers say, Merkel will want to help Macron politically as it is in Germany’s interests to see that he is not replaced at the next presidential election in France by Marine Le Pen of the National Front.

http://www.dw.com/en/macrons-eurozone-plans-put-eastern-eu-members-on-the-spot/a-40709205

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Hungary’s Viktor Orban sends EU a border fence bill

September 1, 2017

Hungary has asked the EU to foot half the bill for fences erected to keep migrants out of the bloc. The conservative government’s request comes just days before a court ruling on Hungary’s rejection of EU migrant quotas.

Hungarian army soldiers build a temporary protective fence on the border between Hungary and Serbia (picture alliance/AP Photo/Z.G.Kelemen)

Prime Minister Viktor Orban wants the European Union to refund half the cost of Hungary’s border defense measures, his government said on Thursday.

Orban’s Chief of Staff Janos Lazar told reporters Hungary’s southern border fences with Serbia and Croatia were “protecting all the citizens of Europe from the flood of illegal migrants.”

He added that it was time that the 28-member bloc helped Hungary as it did Italy, Greece and Bulgaria.

“If we talk about European solidarity, then we must also discuss the protection of borders. Solidarity must be applicable there, too,” Lazar said. “That burden must also be shared.”

The Hungarian government estimated that Brussels should pay back 400 million euros ($476 million).

Read more: Hungary PM Viktor Orban aims to militarize the school system

In 2015, Hungary built a razor-wire fence patrolled by soldiers and dogs at its southern border with Serbia in response to a wave of refugees and migrants crossing its border.

The eastern European country then reinforced the barrier with an additional fence line, built another fence on its border with Croatia and hired around 3,000 special “border hunter” police.

Hungary's Prime Minister Viktor Orban gives a speech during a press conference in Brussels (picture-alliance/abaca/D. Aydemir)Prime Minister Orban has fiercely campaigned against migration for years

The battle over quotas

Hungary’s request comes just days before the European Court of Justice (ECJ) is due to decide on a case brought by Hungary and Slovakia against the relocation of refugees across the bloc.

It’s possible that the ECJ will dismiss the case after the court’s Advocate General Yves Bot rejected Hungary and Slovakia’s arguments that the quotas were unlawful.

The two eastern European countries – supported by neighboring Poland – wanted the court to annul a 2015 EU plan to have each member state host a certain number of refugees to ease pressure on Italy and Greece, where the majority of asylum-seekers first arrive in the EU.

Orban is a staunch opponent of immigration from the Middle East and has been campaigning against migration for years. His rhetoric is well received by his right-wing party’s voters.

Hundreds of thousands of people fleeing war and poverty in conflict zones in the Middle East and Africa passed through Hungary in en route to western Europe in 2015.

The construction of Hungary’s border fences was fiercely denounced by Brussels at the time although other EU member states later followed suit.

Read more: Dream of Europe turns deadly at Bulgaria’s border

Currently, fewer than 700 migrants are living in Hungary. Around 430 of them are kept in two closely-guarded and controversial detention camps on the Serbian border.

rs/sms (AFP, dpa, Reuters)

http://www.dw.com/en/hungarys-viktor-orban-sends-eu-a-border-fence-bill/a-40319972

Middle East conflicts boost Bulgarian arms exports

August 31, 2017

AFP

© AFP | Bulgaria, which specialises in the production of light-weight Soviet-style weapons and munitions, exported over 1.0 billion euros’ worth of arms in 2016, nearly 60 percent more than the year before.

SOFIA (AFP) – Conflicts in the Middle East boosted Bulgaria’s arms exports by almost 60 percent in 2016 to record levels not seen since the end of communism, official data showed Thursday.Bulgaria, which specialises in the production of light-weight Soviet-style weapons and munitions, exported over 1.0 billion euros’ ($1.2 billion) worth of arms in 2016 compared to 642 million in 2015 and 402 million in 2014.

Iraq and Saudi Arabia were the main buyers, followed by the United States, Afghanistan, Croatia, Azerbaijan, India, Egypt and Russia, the annual report of the export control committee showed.

Experts believe that many of weapons exported by Bulgaria — and other countries in the region — end up in war-hit Syria and Yemen after being re-exported by Saudi Arabia and the US to armed groups in these countries.

A 2014 study by the British Conflict Armament Research organisation concluded that one quarter of the munitions used by the Islamic State group in northern Iraq and Syria were Bulgarian-made.

Bulgaria’s economy ministry, which greenlights all arms exports, had downplayed the issue, saying that it cannot be held accountable for any re-exports.

Bulgaria makes “Russian models that are not expensive and are easy to use,” expert Tihomir Bezlov from the Sofia-based think-tank Centre for the Study of Democracy commented recently to AFP.

During communism, Bulgaria traditionally exported an annual 800 million dollars’ (670 million euros’) worth of arms to pro-Soviet regimes and movements in the Middle East and Africa.

Pence declares future of Western Balkans ‘in the West’

August 2, 2017

AFP

© AFP | US Vice President Mike Pence speaks to the press in Podgorica, Montenegro, on August 2, 2017
PODGORICA (MONTENEGRO) (AFP) – US Vice President Mike Pence said Wednesday that the future of the Western Balkans lay “in the West”, on the last leg of a tour aimed at reassuring Eastern European allies worried by Russia.After visiting Baltic state Estonia and the Caucasus nation of Georgia, Pence arrived on Tuesday in NATO’s newest member Montenegro on the Adriatic Sea.

Pence’s tour is a show of support for allies in the region rattled by Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea and its backing of a bloody separatist rebellion in Ukraine.

Montenegro’s accession to NATO on June 5 — and Georgia’s hopes of joining the military alliance — have stirred fury in Moscow, which considers both countries to be in its historic sphere of influence.

“We truly believe the future of the Western Balkans is in the West,” Pence told reporters in the Montenegrin capital Podgorica, alongside Prime Minister Dusko Markovic.

The vice president hailed Montenegro’s accession to NATO as a “historic achievement” and pledged US commitment to strengthening ties with the region.

On Tuesday in Tbilisi, Pence slammed Russia’s “occupation” of part of Georgia’s territory since a brief 2008 war, and pledged President Donald Trump would sign off on new sanctions against Moscow “soon”.

Later at dinner in Montenegro, which is home to around 620,000 people, Pence said his trip was “testament to the fact that America has no small allies — only strong allies”.

“Your courage, particularly in the face of Russian pressure, inspires the world, and I commend you for it,” he said.

Washington said in April there were credible reports that Moscow had backed an alleged coup attempt in Podgorica on the eve of Montenegro’s election in October last year.

Montenegrin authorities also allege that “Russian state bodies” were involved in the conspiracy in a bid to prevent the country from joining NATO, but Moscow denies any involvement.

Pence is attending the Adriatic Charter Summit in Podgorica on Wednesday afternoon, which also brings together leaders from Albania, Bosnia, Croatia, Macedonia, Kosovo, Serbia and Slovenia.

The US Senate on Thursday approved a package of tough additional sanctions against Russia over alleged meddling in last year’s US election and its annexation of the Crimea peninsula from Ukraine.

Pence told a press conference in Georgia on Tuesday that Trump would sign the bill “soon”, although the White House has not set a timeframe.

In Estonia on Monday, Pence insisted that a retaliatory move taken by the Kremlin, to cut the US diplomatic mission in Russia the face of the looming sanctions, would not lessen Washington’s commitment to its allies.

President Trump Poland Speech in Warsaw at Krasinski Square – July 6th, 2017 (Video) — “The fundamental question of our time is whether the West has the will to survive.”

July 6, 2017

Available athttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4rZqffnba_o

Donald Trump says West must show ‘the will to survive’ in face of threats from Russia and North Korea 

President Donald Trump gives speech in Poland
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By  James Rothwell and 

Donald Trump has warned that the West must decide if it has the “will to survive” in the face of threats from North Korea and Russia at a speech in Warsaw on Thursday.

“We have to remember that our defence is not just a community of money, it is a community of will,” Mr Trump said.

“As the Polish experience reminds us, defence of the west rests not only on means but the will of people to prevail.

“The fundamental question is whether the West has the will to survive,” he added.

“Do we have the confidence in our values to defend them at any cost? Do we have enough respect for our citizens to protect our borders?” If we do not have strong values we will be weak and we will not survive.”

The US and Polish presidents give a joint press conference
The US and Polish presidents give a joint press conference

Europe-US bond is stronger than ever

“The transatlantic bond between the United States and Europe is as strong as ever, and maybe in many ways, even stronger,” said Mr Trump as he extolled the virtues of the Polish people.

In a lengthy speech which recounted Poland’s struggles under Nazi occupation and Communism, Mr Trump said the European country was a powerful “symbol of freedom.”

His remarks came despite a string of spats with Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, over her refugee policy and the trade deficit with Germany.

Donald Trump meets Polish President

‘Our enemies are doomed’

“If left unchecked these forces will weaken our will to defend ourselves,” Mr Trump said in reference to threats from Russia and North Korea, which earlier this week test launched an intercontinental-ballistic missile.

“We know these forces are doomed to fail if we want them to fail and we do indeed want them to fail. They are doomed because our alliance is strong and our power is unmatched,” he said.

“Our adversaries are doomed because we will never forget who we are,” added Mr Trump, alluding to the US and the European allies’ joint efforts against Nazism and  later Soviet rule.

US President Donald Trump holds a joint press conference with his Polish counterpart at the Royal Castle in Warsaw
US President Donald Trump holds a joint press conference with his Polish counterpart at the Royal Castle in Warsaw

Get going on spending obligations, Nato allies told

It comes after Mr Trump gave a joint press conference on Thursday morning in which he said it was time for all Nato countries to “get going” on their financial obligations during a speech in Warsaw.

In the same speech he sought to reassure eastern European nations such as Poland by vowing to tackle Russia’s “destabilising” behaviour.

He also said he would confront the threat of North Korea, which test launched an inter-continental ballistic missile as part of its nuclear weapons programme early this week, “very strongly.”

Other countries must also make a stand to North Korea to show there are consequences for “bad behaviour,” he added.

Excerpts of the speech showed Mr Trump also planned to say that “the Polish experience reminds us – the defence of the West ultimately rests not only on means but also on the will of its people to prevail,” Trump will say, according to excerpts.

“The fundamental question of our time is whether the West has the will to survive.”

U.S. President Donald Trump is greeted by Polish President Andrzej Duda
U.S. President Donald Trump is greeted by Polish President Andrzej Duda

Russia ‘could have’ interfered with election

Mr Trump admitted that Russia may have interfered in the US election while taking questions from the media.

“I think it was Russia and I think it could have been other people in other countries,” he said.

US intelligence agencies concluded in January that Moscow tried to tilt the November presidential election to Mr Trump’s favour, including by hacking into and leaking the emails of senior Democrats.

Moscow has always denied the allegation.

In this June 30, 2017, photo, President Donald Trump speaks in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington
In this June 30, 2017, photo, President Donald Trump speaks in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington

Poland: This trip shows our country matters

Donald Trump’s high-stakes trip to Europe, where he faces a prickly G20 meeting and animosity from traditional US allies, kicked off on a comforting note Thursday – in front of a friendly crowd bussed in by his sympathetic Polish hosts.

Air Force One touched down in Warsaw late Wednesday, for what is the US president’s second foreign outing after a European tour in May that exposed fierce mistrust.

“This is the second foreign visit by president Trump and it starts in Poland. This shows we are a country that matters and it strengthens our position in the European Union,” said Polish President Andrzej Duda, who will meet the US leader today.

The US president’s four-day swing starts in Warsaw, where he will deliver a major speech, before moving on to the northern German city of Hamburg for his first G20 summit, where tricky geopolitical currents – from rumbling transatlantic discord to increasingly difficult ties with China – will converge.

Looming large over the entire visit is Pyongyang’s test of an intercontinental ballistic missile that could deliver a nuclear payload to Alaska.

President Donald Trump
President Donald Trump

Tough-talking Trump had previously vowed North Korea would not be allowed to possess an ICBM, and leaders from rival and allied powers alike will be watching closely to see whether his threats were bluster or will crystallise into action.

After repeatedly urging Beijing to ratchet up the pressure on North Korea, Trump will hold what promises to be a testy meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Hamburg to trace the next steps.

“Trade between China and North Korea grew almost 40% in the first quarter. So much for China working with us – but we had to give it a try!” Trump tweeted indignantly on Wednesday.

Air Force One touched down in Warsaw late on Wednesday
Air Force One touched down in Warsaw late on Wednesday

US will sell Patriot missiles to Poland

It came as the US agreed to sell Patriot missile defence systems to Poland in a memorandum signed on Wednesday night, Poland’s Defence Minister Antoni Macierewicz said.

“A memorandum was signed tonight that the U.S. government has agreed to sell Poland Patriot missiles in the most modern configuration,” Macierewicz said in a news conference broadcast on public television on Thursday morning.

“I am glad that I can pass on this information on the day of President’s Trump visit to Warsaw,” Macierewicz also said.

Related:

Trump in Poland: There are threats. We will face them. And we will win.

July 6, 2017

  • President Donald Trump met with Polish President Andrzej Duda on Thursday at the Royal Castle in Warsaw
  • Trump later questioned if the West has the ‘will to survive’ in a landmark speech at Krasinski Square
  • He said North Korea would face ‘consequences’ and admitted Russia ‘could have’ interfered with the election
  • Trump’s visit to Warsaw comes before a journey to Germany for the G20 summit on Friday and Saturday

President Donald Trump spoke to thousands of cheering Poles in Warsaw on Thursday, calling their nation ‘the geographic heart of Europe’ and praising their countrymen for shaking off both Nazi oppressors and Russian occupiers in the last century.

‘That’s trouble. That’s tough,’ he exclaimed.

‘In those dark days, you have lost your land but you never lost your pride.’

Trump delivered his address in Krasinski Square, at the foot of a statue commemorating the 1994 Polish uprising against German occupiers. He and first lady Melania Trump laid a wreath at its base.

Speaking behind bulletproof glass, he said Poles are ‘a people who truly know the value of what you defend.’ 

President Donald Trump questioned if the West has the 'will to survive' in a landmark speech in Warsaw on Thursday afternoon

President Donald Trump questioned if the West has the ‘will to survive’ in a landmark speech in Warsaw on Thursday afternoon

Trump spoke in front of a crowd at Krasinski Square at the Royal Castle in Warsaw on Thursday

Trump spoke in front of a crowd at Krasinski Square at the Royal Castle in Warsaw on Thursday

Trump participates in a wreath laying ceremony before delivering a speech at Krasinski Square at the Royal Castle

Trump participates in a wreath laying ceremony before delivering a speech at Krasinski Square at the Royal Castle

Trump waves next to First Lady of the US Melania Trump, Polish President Andrzej Duda and First Lady of Poland Agata Kornhauser-Duda before Trump's public speech at Krasinski Square

Trump waves next to First Lady of the US Melania Trump, Polish President Andrzej Duda and First Lady of Poland Agata Kornhauser-Duda before Trump’s public speech at Krasinski Square

People cheer as Trump delivers his landmark speech at Krasinski Square at the Royal Castle

People cheer as Trump delivers his landmark speech at Krasinski Square at the Royal Castle

Ahead of his speech on Thursday, First Lady Melania Trump welcomed the crowd and introduced her husban

Ahead of his speech on Thursday, First Lady Melania Trump welcomed the crowd and introduced her husban

He urged them to uphold ‘a future in which good conquers evil.’

They chanted ‘USA, USA’ and ‘Donald Trump! Donald Trump!’

Trump had earlier met the Polish president and warned that the future of the West is in doubt.

In his speech he praised Poland’s ‘will to survive’ because they ‘have never, ever forgotten who they are.’

‘The Polish experience reminds us – the defense of the West ultimately rests not only on means but also on the will of its people to prevail,’ Trump said.

‘Your oppressors tried to break you, but Poland could not be broken,’ he said.

And Trump projected his fight against Middle Eastern terrorism onto the template of Poland’s historic struggles, saying that ‘We are fighting hard against radical Islamic terrorism, and we will prevail.’

‘America and Europe have suffered one terror attack after another. We are going to get it to stop,’ he said.

The president urged European nations to commit more of its money to NATO, as he said the organization’s ‘Article 5’ commitment to mutual defense is an ironclad guarantee.

‘Words are easy but actions matter,’ he said.

At a press conference following his private talks with Andrzej Duda, Trump said North Korea would face ‘consequences’ for its intercontinental ballistic missile test.

He also admitted that Russia ‘could have’ interfered with the 2016 election and vowed to work with Poland on addressing threats from the country.

Trump’s whirlwind visit to Warsaw comes just days before he meets Russian President Vladimir Putin. He will next travel to Germany for Friday and Saturday’s G20 summit.

Trump’s appearance alongside the Polish president will go down badly in Russia

Trump’s visit was coordinated with the Three Seas Initiative which is a new 12-nation trade and economic bloc organized in part to limit Russia’s power, especially in ways that diminish its dominance in the region’s energy markets.

At a joint press conference between Trump and Duda, the US president called on the global community to ensure there are ‘consequences’ for Pyongyang’s belligerence and warned that he is considering a ‘severe’ response.

‘I call on all nations to confront this global threat and publicly demonstrate to North Korea that there are consequences for their very, very bad behavior,’ Trump said.

‘I have pretty severe things that we’re thinking about,’ he said, but added: ‘That doesn’t mean that we’ll do them.’

Trump later said that he was working with Poland on addressing threats from Russia and reiterated his calls for NATO members to meet their financial obligations.

In a direct appeal to Russia, Trump said in his speech that Vladimir Putin’s country should ‘cease its destabilizing activities in Ukraine and elsewhere.’

Duda for his part said he believed Trump took Poland’s security seriously.

‘We see ourselves as loyal partners who cooperate on a number of issues, among others on security,’ Duda told said at the news conference.

Trump said then that the country ‘could have’ interfered with the 2016 US presidential election which saw him take victory over Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton.

President Donald Trump is set to question if the West has the 'will to survive' in a landmark speech in Warsaw on Thursday

President Donald Trump is set to question if the West has the ‘will to survive’ in a landmark speech in Warsaw on Thursday

Trump held a joint press conference with Polish President Andrzej Duda on Thursday after the pair had private talks

Trump held a joint press conference with Polish President Andrzej Duda on Thursday after the pair had private talks

At a press conference following his private talks with Andrzej Duda, Trump said North Korea would face 'consequences' for its intercontinental ballistic missile test

At a press conference following his private talks with Andrzej Duda, Trump said North Korea would face ‘consequences’ for its intercontinental ballistic missile test

He also admitted that Russia interfered with the 2016 election and vowed to work with Poland on addressing threats from the country

He also admitted that Russia interfered with the 2016 election and vowed to work with Poland on addressing threats from the country

He added, however, that he’s not totally convinced that Russia was the sole meddler in the election, contrasting claims from US intelligence agencies who said the effort was directed by Putin and emanated from Moscow.

‘I think it was Russia, and it could have been other people in other countries,’ Trump said. ‘Nobody really knows.’

He added that US intelligence agencies have made mistakes in the past, so ‘nobody really knows for sure’.

The president sought to redirect any scrutiny toward his predecessor, Barack Obama, accusing him of allowing Moscow to meddle on his watch.

Though the Obama administration warned Russia publicly and privately before Election Day to stop interfering, questions have since been raised about whether he acted aggressively enough to stop the threat.

‘They say he choked. Well, I don’t think he choked,’ Trump said. ‘I think he thought Hillary Clinton was going to win the election, and he said, “Let’s not do anything about it”.’

Trump said the CIA had informed Obama about the hacking months before the election but added that ‘mistakes have been made.’.

He also took a question about a domestic tempest that developed this week over a video clip he tweeted on Sunday, depicting himself body-slamming a pro-wrestling mogul whose face was superimposed with CNN’s logo.

CNN quickly condemned the tweet and assigned a reporter to find out where the viral meme originated.

At a joint press conference between Trump and Duda, the US president called on the global community to ensure there are 'consequences' for Pyongyang's belligerence and warned that he is considering a 'severe' response

'I call on all nations to confront this global threat and publicly demonstrate to North Korea that there are consequences for their very, very bad behavior,' Trump said.

At a joint press conference between Trump and Duda, the US president called on the global community to ensure there are ‘consequences’ for Pyongyang’s belligerence and warned that he is considering a ‘severe’ response

Trump later said that he was working with Poland on addressing threats from Russia and reiterated his calls for NATO members to meet their financial obligations

Trump later said that he was working with Poland on addressing threats from Russia and reiterated his calls for NATO members to meet their financial obligations

Trump's whirlwind visit to Warsaw comes just days before he meets Russian President Vladimir Putin. He will next travel to Germany for Friday and Saturday's G20 summit

Trump’s whirlwind visit to Warsaw comes just days before he meets Russian President Vladimir Putin. He will next travel to Germany for Friday and Saturday’s G20 summit

Trump and Duda shook hands for photo ops several times on Thursday, including after their joint press conference

Trump and Duda shook hands for photo ops several times on Thursday, including after their joint press conference

By Thursday the network was under fire for allegedly threatening to reveal the name of a person it said created the video.

But CNN appears to have gotten it wrong, using the wrong version of the doctored footage as the basis for their interview with the unnamed man.

‘I think what CNN did is unfortunate for them,’ Trump said at the press conference. ‘As you know they have some pretty serious problems.

‘They have been fake news for a long time. They have been covering me in a very, very dishonest way.’

Trump then turned to Duda and asked, ‘Do you have that also, Mr President?’, to which Duda shrugged.

‘What CNN did – and what others did, NBC is equally as bad despite the fact that I made them a fortune with The Apprentice but they forgot that,’ Trump said. ‘What I will say is that CNN has really taken it too seriously and I think they’ve hurt themselves very badly, very, very badly.

‘And what we want to see in the United States is honest, beautiful, free, but honest press. We want to see fair press.

‘I think it’s a very important thing. We don’t want fake news. By the way, not everybody is fake news. But we don’t want fake news. Bad thing. It’s very bad for our country.’

Trump talks with Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic, center right, as they arrive for a group photo prior to the Three Seas Initiative transatlantic roundtable in the Great Assembly Hall of the Royal Castle, in Warsaw

Trump talks with Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic, center right, as they arrive for a group photo prior to the Three Seas Initiative transatlantic roundtable in the Great Assembly Hall of the Royal Castle, in Warsaw

Trump talks to Duda as US  ambassador to Poland Paul W Jones looks on during the Three Seas Initiative Summit on Thursday 

Trump talks to Duda as US  ambassador to Poland Paul W Jones looks on during the Three Seas Initiative Summit on Thursday

Duda, center, speaks with Croatia President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic as Trump makes a comment during the Three Seas Initiative transatlantic roundtable in the Great Assembly Hall of the Royal Castle

Duda, center, speaks with Croatia President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic as Trump makes a comment during the Three Seas Initiative transatlantic roundtable in the Great Assembly Hall of the Royal Castle

The group who attended the initiative includes leaders of the Baltic, Adriatic and Black seas nations and aims to expand and modernize energy and trade with the goal of reducing the region's dependence on Russian energy

The group who attended the initiative includes leaders of the Baltic, Adriatic and Black seas nations and aims to expand and modernize energy and trade with the goal of reducing the region’s dependence on Russian energy

While at the Royal Castle, President Trump and Duda (not pictured) attended a meeting together

While at the Royal Castle, President Trump and Duda (not pictured) attended a meeting together

Following the press conference, Trump attended a meeting of the Three Seas Initiative.

The group includes leaders of the Baltic, Adriatic and Black seas nations and aims to expand and modernize energy and trade with the goal of reducing the region’s dependence on Russian energy.

While at the meeting, Trump pledged that the United States will never use energy to coerce eastern and central European nations, adding that the United States won’t allow other nations to coerce them either.

Trump said he’s proud that the region is benefiting from US energy supplies. Poland received a first shipment of liquefied natural gas from the United States last month.

Trump noted the region’s special significance to him. His wife, Melania, is a native of Slovenia, which belongs to the group.

He then claimed that everyone is benefiting from the thriving US economy except for him.

He bragged of recent stock market gains, but said: ‘Personally, I’ve picked up nothing.’

President Donald Trump is greeted by Polish President Andrzej Duda as he visits Poland during the Three Seas Initiative Summit in Warsaw on Thursday

President Donald Trump is greeted by Polish President Andrzej Duda as he visits Poland during the Three Seas Initiative Summit in Warsaw on Thursday

Poland's ruling party sees itself as a Euroskeptic regime along the lines of last year's Brexit movement in the United Kingdom

Poland’s ruling party sees itself as a Euroskeptic regime along the lines of last year’s Brexit movement in the United Kingdom

The US president's unapologetic brand of nationalism is seen as its idealized complement, aligning Washington and Warsaw in a push against a Berlin-dominated Europe

The US president’s unapologetic brand of nationalism is seen as its idealized complement, aligning Washington and Warsaw in a push against a Berlin-dominated Europe

Trump and Duda shook hands at the Royal Castle in front of a white marble bust of Stanislaw August Poniatowski, the last king of Poland

Trump and Duda shook hands at the Royal Castle in front of a white marble bust of Stanislaw August Poniatowski, the last king of Poland

The leaders then retreated to a room decorated with red walls for their private talks, where they also posed for photos

The leaders then retreated to a room decorated with red walls for their private talks, where they also posed for photos

Asked how he felt about the trip, Trump, who is on a whirlwind 16-hour trip in Poland said 'Great'

Asked how he felt about the trip, Trump, who is on a whirlwind 16-hour trip in Poland said ‘Great’

‘That’s all right,’ he said. ‘Everyone else is getting very rich. That’s OK. I’m very happy.’

Trump gave his two adult sons and a senior executive control of his global real estate, property management and marketing empire when he took office in January. But Trump did not divest his businesses.

Instead he placed his financial assets in a trust that he can seize control of at any time.

Busloads of Trump supporters were sent to Warsaw to see Trump speak on Thursday in Krasinski Square, where a monument stands to a 1944 popular uprising against German occupation.

In every corner of Poland, citizens were offered free transportation to Warsaw if they wanted to be a part of the Trump show.

They will hear the US president complain about ‘the steady creep of government bureaucracy that drains the vitality and wealth of the people’.

Trump will praise ‘the triumph of the Polish spirit over centuries of hardship’ in a landmark speech in Warsaw, the White House said Thursday morning.

Poland’s courage, according to excerpts from his address, ‘gives us all hope for a future in which good conquers evil, and peace achieves victory over war.’

Polish President Duda gave Trump a tour of the royal castle on Thursday ahead of their joint press conference

Polish President Duda gave Trump a tour of the royal castle on Thursday ahead of their joint press conference

Meanwhile, First Lady Melania Trump met with Poland's First Lady, Agata Kornhauser-Duda at the Belvedere Palace in Warsaw

Meanwhile, First Lady Melania Trump met with Poland’s First Lady, Agata Kornhauser-Duda at the Belvedere Palace in Warsaw

Trump's daughter, Ivanka, visited the Monument to the Ghetto Heroes in Warsaw on Thursday

Trump’s daughter, Ivanka, visited the Monument to the Ghetto Heroes in Warsaw on Thursday

‘I am here today not just to visit an old ally, but to hold it up as an example for others who seek freedom and who wish to summon the courage and the will to defend our civilization,’ Trump will say.

The words ‘courage,’ ‘will’ and ‘civilization’ were capitalized for emphasis in the snippets the White House sent to reporters.

Trump’s script calls for a united stand against ‘shared enemies’ – a reference to Islamic terrorists – ‘to strip them of their territory, their funding, their networks, and any form of ideological support’.

The United States is serious about the security of its ally Poland, Duda said on Wednesday after his meeting with Trump.

‘We see ourselves as loyal partners who cooperate on a number of issues, among others on security,’ Duda told the joint news conference. ‘I have a feeling that the United States is serious about Poland’s security.’

Trump has made a point of attacking what adviser Steve Bannon has derided as ‘the bureaucratic state,’ rolling back regulations that he says are choking free enterprise and dampening the American economy.

Trump will praise 'the triumph of the Polish spirit over centuries of hardship' in a landmark speech in Warsaw, the White House said Thursday morning

Trump will praise ‘the triumph of the Polish spirit over centuries of hardship’ in a landmark speech in Warsaw, the White House said Thursday morning

The two presidents met at the Royal Castle in Warsaw on Thursday morning head of Trump's landmark speech

The two presidents met at the Royal Castle in Warsaw on Thursday morning head of Trump’s landmark speech

Thursday's joint appearance with Duda at Warsaw's royal castle was originally billed as a press conference

Thursday’s joint appearance with Duda at Warsaw’s royal castle was originally billed as a press conference

Trump, like Poland's President Andrzej Duda, is aligned against the European Union's bureaucracies

Trump, like Poland’s President Andrzej Duda, is aligned against the European Union’s bureaucracies

‘The West became great not because of paperwork and regulations but because people were allowed to chase their dreams and pursue their destinies,’ Trump’s speech adds.

‘Americans, Poles, and the nations of Europe value individual freedom and sovereignty.

‘We must work together to counter forces, whether they come from inside or out, from the South or the East, that threaten over time to undermine these values and to erase the bonds of culture, faith and tradition that make us who we are.’

Trump, like Poland’s President Andrzej Duda, is aligned against the European Union’s bureaucracies.

Flag-waving Poles lined Trump’s motorcade route on Wednesday night, but critics pointed out that the government had paid to bus in thousands from Poland’s far-flung provinces.

Duda’s government had reportedly promised his American counterpart a hero’s welcome as a condition of visiting Poland.

Like the Trump administration, Duda's government is staking its claim on a desire to limit the numbers of refugees it resettles even as European Union leaders press Warsaw to open its borders

Like the Trump administration, Duda’s government is staking its claim on a desire to limit the numbers of refugees it resettles even as European Union leaders press Warsaw to open its borders

rump will speak to the leaders of Three Seas Initiative nations and address the Polish people at Warsaw's Krasinski Square later in the da

Trump will speak to the leaders of Three Seas Initiative nations and address the Polish people at Warsaw’s Krasinski Square later in the da

The White House later described the meeting as  a 'press event', which raised concerns that Trump wouldn't be taking questions from reporters

The White House later described the meeting as  a ‘press event’, which raised concerns that Trump wouldn’t be taking questions from reporters

The pair met between flags of each nation before heading into a discussion about the European Union

The pair met between flags of each nation before heading into a discussion about the European Union

Poland’s ruling party sees itself as a Euroskeptic regime along the lines of last year’s Brexit movement in the United Kingdom.

The US president’s unapologetic brand of nationalism is seen as its idealized complement, aligning Washington and Warsaw in a push against a Berlin-dominated Europe.

Like the Trump administration, Duda’s government is staking its claim on a desire to limit the numbers of refugees it resettles even as European Union leaders press Warsaw to open its borders.

‘The Polish government has the same position as Americans – we want strict restrictions on refugees,’ legislator Krzysztof Mróz told The Wall Street Journal on Wednesday.

‘While we will always welcome new citizens who share our values and love our people, our borders will always be closed to terrorism and extremism,’ Trump will say in his upcoming speech, the White House said Thursday morning.

Thursday’s joint appearance with Duda at Warsaw’s royal castle was originally billed as a press conference.

By Tuesday, however, the White House began describing it in advisories to reporters as a ‘press event’, raising concerns that Trump wouldn’t take reporters’ questions.

Trump (his motorcade pictured above) will speak to the leaders of Three Seas Initiative nations and address the Polish people at Warsaw's Krasinski Square

Trump (his motorcade pictured above) will speak to the leaders of Three Seas Initiative nations and address the Polish people at Warsaw’s Krasinski Square

Trump's whirlwind visit to Warsaw comes on the front end of a journey to Germany for Friday and Saturday's G20 summit

Trump’s whirlwind visit to Warsaw comes on the front end of a journey to Germany for Friday and Saturday’s G20 summit

Trump arrives on a state visit at the Okecie Airport, Warsaw President Donald Trump visit to Poland on Wednesday

Trump arrives on a state visit at the Okecie Airport, Warsaw President Donald Trump visit to Poland on Wednesday

Trump and First Lady Melania Trump arrive on a state visit at the Okecie Airport in Warsaw on Tuesday evening

Trump and First Lady Melania Trump arrive on a state visit at the Okecie Airport in Warsaw on Tuesday evening

Also on the trip to Warsaw were Trump's daughter, Ivanka Trump, and her husband Jared Kushner

Also on the trip to Warsaw were Trump’s daughter, Ivanka Trump, and her husband Jared Kushner

On Thursday morning the White House confirmed that the press conference would indeed include a Q&A from at least four journalists.

Trump’s ongoing media war has tended to overshadow talk of his domestic and foreign agendas, a condition he could ill afford as he launched his second diplomacy tour in six weeks.

Duda, too, rolled the dice by allowing American journalists to question his government’s clampdown on press freedoms in the last year.

Protesters blockaded the Polish parliament in December after the ruling Law and Justice party restricted the number of journalists allowed in the building and limited which TV networks could record proceedings there.

European Council President Donald Tusk quickly invoked the word ‘dictatorship’ to warn Duda, as his government blamed protesters for staging an ‘illegal attempt to seize power.’

Protesters shouted ‘Solidarity!’ – a throwback to the communist-era movement led by then-dissident trade unionist Lech Wałęsa, who later became president.

Unlike past US presidents, Trump did not meet with him in Poland. Duda’s right-wing government has sought to downplay Wałęsa’s role in Poland’s history.

Wałęsa, however, was in the crowd for Trump’s speech.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4670380/Donald-Trump-Poland-s-president-plot-against-EU.html#ixzz4m3RtF8RG
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NATO Allies Look for Reassurance From Trump in Warsaw

July 6, 2017

WARSAW — U.S. President Donald Trump meets eastern NATO allies in Warsaw on Thursday amid expectations he will reaffirm Washington’s commitment to counter threats from Russia after unnerving them in May by failing to endorse the principle of collective defence.

En route to a potentially fractious G20 summit in Germany, Trump will take part in a gathering of leaders from central Europe, Baltic states and the Balkans, an event convened by Poland and Croatia to boost regional trade and infrastructure.

The White House has said Trump will use the stopover in Warsaw to showcase his commitment to the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, which he once called “obsolete”, a likely effort to patch up relations after the tense alliance summit in May.

Poland’s conservative and eurosceptic government, which shares views with Trump on issues such climate change, migration and coal mining, has hailed the U.S. president’s visit as a recognition of its role as a leading voice in central Europe.

 Image may contain: 1 person, text

The west Europeans, critical of Poland’s democratic record, will be watchful as to whether Trump, who will give a major policy speech on a Warsaw square, may encourage its government in its defiance of Brussels.

Some west European governments are worried over a deepening divide between east and west within the European Union and some diplomats see Thursday’s regional summit as a Polish bid to carve out influence outside EU structures.

Poland also wants to buy liquefied natural gas from U.S. companies to counterbalance Russian gas supplies in the region.

“We are simply an important country in this part of the world,” Polish President Andrzej Duda said in an interview with the PAP news agency.

“We are among the biggest countries in Europe, we are a leader of central Europe, and President Trump … understands this.”

Like other countries close to the NATO frontline with Russia, Poland will be eager to hear Trump embrace the alliance principle that an attack against one member represents an attack against all of them.

Trump, who has praised Russian President Vladimir Putin in the past, flustered allies at his first NATO summit when he dropped a mention of the mutual defence principle, known as Article 5, which is the bedrock of the trans-Atlantic partnership.

“The White House sees opportunities to fix the problem that they created in Brussels where it looked like there was a big trans-Atlantic divide,” said Julie Smith, who was a national security adviser to former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden.

“If he has a very warm welcome in Poland … that could help push back on the narrative that he’s not developing strong partnerships with our closest allies,” Smith, now with the Center for a New American Security in Washington, told Reuters.

(Writing by Justyna Pawlak; Editing by Richard Balmforth)

Court Says Slovenia Should Have Corridor to International Waters in Dispute With Croatia

June 29, 2017

THE HAGUE — An international arbitration court on Thursday handed Slovenia a victory in its long-standing maritime dispute with Croatia, granting it direct access to international waters in the Adriatic Sea.

The court’s decision is final and binding, but Croatia withdrew from the proceedings in 2015 and has repeatedly said – as recently as last week – that it will not abide by its rulings.

The Permanent Court of Arbitration found that Slovenia should have “uninterrupted access” to the sea it shares with Croatia, presiding Judge Gilbert Guillaume said, in the case between the European Union neighbours.

The countries have been arguing over a stretch of their sea and land border since both declared independence from the former Yugoslavia in 1991 as it disintegrated into war and broke up.

The dispute, which centres on the bay of Piran, held up Croatia accession to the EU for many years. Only after both parties agreed to arbitration was Zagreb granted entry to the bloc in 2013.

(Reporting by Stephanie van den Berg; Editing by Anthony Deutsch and Andrew Roche)

**********************************

THE HAGUE, Netherlands — An international arbitration panel on Thursday granted Slovenia unhindered access to the high seas for the first time since the breakup of the former Yugoslavia as part of a ruling aimed at settling a long-running territorial dispute between Slovenia and Balkan neighbor Croatia.

It remains to be seen if the ruling can be enforced. Croatia walked out of the arbitration in 2015 and says it does not recognize the panel’s findings.

The five-judge tribunal granted Slovenia much of the Bay of Piran, off the Adriatic coasts of the two countries, and gave Slovenia a 2.5-nautical-mile wide, 10-nautical-mile long “junction” or corridor linking its territorial waters and international waters.

The panel’s president, Judge Gilbert Guillaume, said the junction allows “uninterrupted and uninterruptable” access for ships and aircraft of all nationalities between international waters and Slovenia’s territorial waters.

The ruling also established Slovenia and Croatia’s land border, but very little of that remained in dispute.

Arbitration was supposed to ease tensions between the Balkan neighbors but instead underscored sensitivities between states that emerged from the breakup of the former Yugoslavia in the early 1990s.

The two countries agreed to arbitration in 2009 in a deal that also led to Slovenia dropping its opposition to Croatia’s European Union membership.

Croatia turned its back on the arbitration following revelations that the Slovenian judge on the panel had violated its rules. The court ruled last year that the violations did not entitle Croatia to terminate arbitration or affect the panel’s power “to render a final award independently and impartially.”

The arbitration panel left open the door to more talks, saying that “the rights and obligations of Croatia and Slovenia established by this award shall subsist until they are modified by agreement between those two states.”

Unease in Brussels Over Trump’s Poland Visit as European Unity is Wavering — Trump Also Accepted Macron’s Invitation for Bastille Day in France

June 29, 2017

WARSAW — A trip to Poland by U.S. President Donald Trump next week may feel like a diplomatic coup for the right-wing government, but western European nations are uneasy it will encourage Warsaw’s defiance towards Brussels.

Trump visits Poland for one day – en route to a G20 summit in Hamburg, Germany – to take part in a gathering of leaders from central Europe, Baltic states and the Balkans, an event convened by Poland to bolster regional trade and infrastructure.

Brussels diplomats view the July 6 gathering, dubbed the Three Seas summit because the countries involved border the Baltic, Black and Adriatic seas, as a Polish bid to carve out influence outside the European Union with which the nationalist government has repeatedly clashed.

Trump plans to promote U.S. natural gas exports to the leaders from central and eastern Europe, a region heavily reliant on Russian supplies, his top economic adviser said. Poland received its first shipment of U.S. liquefied natural gas (LNG) this month.

Most diplomats in Brussels dismiss the importance of the Three Seas project, co-hosted by Croatia, but are wary over Trump’s high-profile visit to participate in a project one senior EU official called Poland’s push towards “self-ghettoisation”.

“One cannot but feel a bit suspicious if it isn’t an attempt to break up European unity,” another EU diplomat said about the Three Seas project.

Poland’s ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party has played a major role in fuelling a deepening rift between ex-communist and Western members of the European Union, at a time when the bloc is struggling with the aftermath of Britain’s decision to leave.

Since winning a parliamentary election in 2015, the PiS has angered France over a canceled army procurement deal, brought relations with Germany to their worst in nearly a decade, and is facing EU action over what critics call its authoritarian tilt.

Poland is one of the leading voices in the region against migration, a view it shares with Trump alongside a disregard for climate change and suspicion of international bodies.

“A MADNESS OF ELITES”

Underscoring Warsaw’s mistrust towards the EU, Prime Minister Beata Szydlo recently called an EU quotas policy for relocation of refugees from the Middle East “a madness of Brussels elites”, in a speech in parliament.

In turn, EU leaders delivered a snub to Poland’s government by steamrolling its objections and reappointing former Polish premier Donald Tusk to chair summits. Szydlo, acting on orders from party boss and long-time Tusk adversary Jaroslaw Kaczynski, had vowed to stop him securing a second 30-month term.

Warsaw portrayed the issue as one of fundamental principle, in which vital national interests had been ignored by a Brussels machine dominated by “German diktat”. Its crushing defeat showed how far the biggest of the ex-communist states that joined the EU after the Cold War appears isolated, even in Eastern Europe.

Deeply distrustful of Moscow, Poland hopes Trump, who once called NATO “obsolete”, will reconfirm his commitment to the alliance’s military build-up in eastern Europe, a deterrence policy against Russia, and possibly promise more.

The United States has about 900 troops on Polish soil as part of a rotating NATO contingent in eastern Europe.

NATO AND TRUMP

But Western diplomats are wary that Trump could use his trip to Warsaw to repeat criticism of Europe’s low defense spending, which has irritated many Western leaders.

Trump denounced some NATO members’ failure to meet a joint target of two percent of economic output, at a meeting of alliance leaders in Brussels last month. Poland, alongside the United States, is one of the few members who meet the goal.

“We are not sure what Trump’s message is going to be … If he is here to reinforce Washington’s commitment to (NATO’s mutual defense principle)? Great!,” one EU diplomat said.

“What if he makes it conditional, to be based on meeting the … spending goal? This would cause a lot of damage.”

Diplomatic observers who watch Washington say Trump may want to use the trip to deliver a message that he is serious about countering threats from Russia.

“Most of the countries (at the Warsaw summit) see Russia as their main security threat and most strongly support NATO and would like a stronger U.S. force presence in their countries,” said Heather Conley, who was a State Department official in the George W. Bush administration.

“GET OUT AND TRAVEL”

Some western European officials view Trump’s nod to the Warsaw government as counter-productive at a time when European unity is wavering.

“We encourage Mr Trump to get out and travel as much as he can. He needs to understand Europe and he can do that by getting out and speaking to people, to European leaders,” said one European official, who declined to be named.

“(But) he can’t do deals with individual countries over the head of the European Union,” he said. “In Hamburg, he will hear different arguments, we can clear up anything that has been misconstrued.”

Poland has expressed hopes Trump can persuade U.S. business to invest in a network of north-south rail and road links central to the regional initiative, something U.S. diplomats and many economists dismiss as unrealistic.

Much commerce in eastern Europe is done along east-west trade routes rather than between north and south, to a large degree a reflection of German economic dominance.

Some governments in the east may also view Poland’s ambitions of regional leadership with suspicion, cautious not to damage relations with trade partners in Berlin.

“We are monitoring it,” said a Czech government source. “But we don’t put much weight on it at the moment.”

(Additional reporting by Pawel Sobczak in Warsaw, Alastair Macdonald and Robin Emmott in Brussels, Michel Rose in Paris, and Roberta Rampton in Washington, editing by Peter Millership)

**************************************

WASHINGTON — President Trump, the self-styled rebel who wants to sweep out an ancien regime, will travel to Paris on July 14 to commemorate revolutionaries who actually did it — with bloodshed and barricade-storming — 228 years ago in France.

The White House announced on Wednesday that Mr. Trump had accepted an invitation from President Emmanuel Macron of France to join him for Bastille Day. He extended the offer in a phone call the day before, when the two leaders discussed Mr. Trump’s latest warning to the Syrian government over its alleged preparation of a chemical weapons attack.

Mr. Trump and Mr. Macron are to review a traditional military parade on the Champs-Élysées, which this year will mark the 100th anniversary of the entry of the United States into World War I. American and French troops will march side by side along the avenue.

US President Donald Trump and French President Emmanuel Macron's white-knuckle handshake became infamous

US President Donald Trump and French President Emmanuel Macron’s white-knuckle handshake became infamous CREDIT: MANDEL NGAN/AFP

The White House used anodyne language to describe the president’s motives for going to Paris — “reaffirming America’s strong ties of friendship to France,” and “celebrating this important day with the French people” — which failed to even remotely capture the psychological subtext.

Ever since their death grip of a handshake in Brussels in May, the personal dynamic between Mr. Trump and Mr. Macron has seemed less like a budding friendship than a polite prizefight — a mixture of bluff and bluster by two alpha males intent on claiming an edge.

Mr. Macron told a French newspaper that the prolonged handshake was deliberate — “a moment of truth” intended to show Mr. Trump that he would not “make small concessions, even symbolic ones.”

Mr. Trump rooted openly for Mr. Macron’s far-right opponent, Marine Le Pen, in the French election this spring. At their first meeting, before a NATO gathering, Mr. Trump and Mr. Macron spoke over lunch about Article 5, the clause in the NATO treaty stipulating that alliance members will come to each other’s defense.

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Hungary investigated by EU over law threatening top university (funded by George Soros)

April 13, 2017