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Czech presidential front-runner says his second foreign trip as head of state will be to Poland

24.01.2023 08:30
Petr Pavel, the former NATO general who is the favourite to win the Czech Republic’s presidential vote this weekend, has said he will go to Poland for his second foreign visit if elected.
Petr Pavel.
Petr Pavel.Martin Strachoň, CC BY-SA 4.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

Pavel made the declaration on Twitter on Monday, Polish state news agency PAP reported.

He was responding to a statement by his electoral opponent in the presidential run-off, the ex-prime minister Andrej Babiš

During a TV debate on Sunday, Babiš said that if Poland or the Baltic states were attacked, he would not send Czech troops to help defend them. 

Pavel commented in a tweet in Polish: “By stating that he definitely would not send our soldiers to Poland or the Baltic states if they were attacked, Babiš ignored our allied commitments and significantly undermined our credibility and security.”   

The former chief of the Czech General Staff added: “I have decided that if I become president, for my second foreign visit I will go to Poland, to give assurances to our good neighbour and to friends from the Baltic states that we respect agreements, and that Andrej Babiš does not speak in our name.”

‘The Czechs will always be willing to defend the Poles’: FM

Meanwhile, Babiš’s statement was also criticised by the Czech government, with Prime Minister Petr Fiala writing on social media: “The Czech Republic must be - also in its own interest - perceived as a serious ally and partner.”

Foreign Minister Jan Lipavsky tweeted in Polish: “The Czech people know full well the meaning of the Polish saying ’For our freedom and yours.’ We are not only neighbours, but also strategic partners and the Czechs will always be willing to defend the Poles.”

Polish government spokesman Piotr Müller said of Babiš’s statement: “I hope it’s just a case of emotions running high during a debate, because our Czech partners have been proving recently that they are fulfilling their allied commitments.”

Speaking in a television interview on Monday evening, Müller added: “It worries me that a candidate for office in Europe, in a NATO member country, could utter such words.”


Source: PAP, wnp.plinteria.pl