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US envoy visited Polish foreign ministry ‘to discuss hybrid war challenges’: spokesman

10.03.2023 21:30
The Polish government spokesman said on Friday that the US ambassador visited the foreign ministry in Warsaw the previous day “to discuss challenges related to hybrid warfare.” 
Piotr Mller.
Piotr Müller.PAP/Marcin Obara

Piotr Müller made the statement at a press conference in Warsaw, Polish state news agency PAP reported.

On Thursday, Poland’s foreign ministry said it had summoned the US envoy, Mark Brzezinski, "in response to the activity of one of TV stations, an investor on the Polish market."

It did not name the station or specify what it believes the broadcaster did wrong, news outlets noted.

Warsaw has previously been at odds with Washington over US-owned news channel TVN24, which is critical of the Polish government, the Reuters news agency reported.

The Polish foreign ministry said in a statement that it "recognizes that the potential outcome of these activities is in line with the goals of a hybrid war aimed at causing divisions and tensions within Polish society."

"Therefore," the statement said, "the Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs has invited the US ambassador to inform him about the situation and its consequences in the form of reducing Poland’s capacity to deter a potential enemy and diminishing its resilience to threats."

Brzezinski was "received by Deputy Foreign Minister Piotr Wawrzyk" on Thursday afternoon, officials said.

'If we have any doubts, we talk to our partners'

Müller was asked by reporters on Friday about Brzezinski’s visit to the foreign ministry, the PAP news agency reported.

The government spokesman replied: “There is nothing extraordinary about a deputy foreign minister hosting an ambassador. It’s a frequent practice.”

He added: “If there are any issues that we want to explain together with our partners, we simply talk.”

Müller told reporters that "Poland regards the US as perhaps our most important ally when it comes to security.”

He added: “Therefore, if we have any doubts, we talk to our partners. And such a conversation took place yesterday. It was businesslike.”

'Challenges related to hybrid war'

Asked whether the foreign ministry “overreacted” by summoning the US ambassador over the activities of a TV station, Müller said: “Various sorts of activities that may give the impression of being an attempt to exert influence, including on the part of Russia--for instance regarding the narrative about the Polish-Belarusian border--are also part of hybrid war and disinformation.”     

He added: “Other activities of this kind also need to be brought to the attention of our partners. That is all.” 

The government spokesman told reporters that "this applies not only to the US ambassador, because we also speak to other ambassadors as well, about challenges related to hybrid war.”

Heated debate

On Monday, TVN24, Poland’s most prominent private news broadcaster, aired a report detailing accusations of child sex abuse levelled against three Polish priests in the 1960s and 1970s, alleging that the then Archbishop of Kraków, Karol Wojtyła, who in 1978 became Pope John Paul II, knew about the wrongdoing.

The report also included comments from Dutch journalist Ekke Overbeek, the author of a book entitled Maxima Culpa, according to the PAP news agency.

The documentary stirred a heated debate in Poland.

'Disgraceful media smear campaign against St. John Paul II'

Late on Thursday, Polish MPs adopted a resolution to condemn a "disgraceful media smear campaign against St. John Paul II," and called the late pope “the greatest Pole in history.”

Lower-house Speaker Elżbieta Witek stated that “one of the foreign TV stations operating in Poland has aired a report reminiscent of the worst years of communist propaganda targeted at the foundations of our cultural heritage.”

In December 2021, the United States welcomed a move by the Polish president to veto a media bill that would have prevented non-European owners from holding controlling stakes in domestic media firms.

Duda told reporters at the time that he shared worries by some Poles about freedom of speech and that signing the bill into law could have harmed his country's relations with the United States.

US media giant Discovery, the owner of Poland’s TVN Group, which operates TVN24, said in a statement that Duda's veto was "a victory for the Polish people."

"We commend the president for doing the right thing and standing up for the democratic values of a free press and the rule of law," Discovery added.

Poland’s governing conservatives have long argued that foreign entities own too much of the country’s mass media and distort the public debate.

Deputy Prime Minister Jacek Sasin told reporters in the summer of 2021 that the "mass media should not become a mouthpiece for spreading views that may threaten Poland's security.”


Source: PAP, wpolityce.pl