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Asia Today ISSN 1861-4604 Tuesday, March 28, 2017

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Germany Backs EU Chief for Second Term

Angela Merkel for Donald Tusk

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Warsaw argued that the decision should be delayed. But Malta's prime minister, who will preside over the vote, indicated that there's little appetite for a delay.> BNN

German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Thursday signalled unequivocally that she expects European Council president Donald Tusk to stay in office, despite the attempts from his home country, Poland, to drive him out.

'There is an overwhelming support for President Tusk's re-election,' Joseph Muscat told reporters. Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said only hours before the 28 EU leaders are due to decide who will be president of the EU Council for the next 2½ years that consultations over the past week had shown "very solid support."

Poland's nationalist government has proposed little-known Polish EU lawmaker Jacek Saryusz-Wolski to replace Tusk, whose current term ends May 31.

Tusk is a former prime minister who has a long and bitter rivalry with the leader of Poland's current governing party, Jaroslaw Kaczynski. The government argues that Tusk supports the domestic opposition in Poland and has failed to protect the country's interests in the EU.

Diplomats from several member nations say Warsaw has little or no support, while Tusk has strong backing. Merkel offered Tusk public support in a pre-summit speech to lawmakers in Berlin.

'I see the re-election of Donald Tusk as a sign of stability for the entire EU,' she said.

Malta, which holds the EU's rotating presidency, will be looking right up to the beginning of the summit for a way to preserve the consensus and have everyone back one candidate. However, it appears likely that the matter will go to a vote, with Tusk being re-elected by an overwhelming majority.

Polish Foreign Minister Witold Waszczykowski said Thursday that Poland will do everything it can to block Tusk's re-election.

'There is no need for hurry, no need to make the decision today,' Waszczykowski said on Poland's TVN24 television.

But Muscat indicated that he remains convinced the decision will be made Thursday.

'The item is on the agenda, so I think that usually when an item is on the agenda one has to decide on that item,' Muscat said.

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