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Asia Today ISSN 1861-4604 Friday, July 21, 2017

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What’s on the agenda as Trump prepares for Poland visit, even before visiting other, more important European allies?

Why before heading to the crucial G20 summit

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WASHINGTON, U.S. - With the U.S. President Donald Trump deciding to visit Poland this week, before heading to the crucial G20 summit in Hamburg, Germany - many experts are wondering why he chose to schedule this visit even before visiting other, more important European allies. 

The American President, whose trip to Warsaw this week, has already been compared by Poland’s pro-government press to John F Kennedy’s historic 1963 visit to West Berlin, is set to arrive in Poland on Wednesday evening and deliver a major speech in Warsaw on Thursday afternoon.

The speech, that has riled up the Polish government’s domestic opponents, will reportedly be delivered in front of the monument to the 1944 Warsaw Uprising against Nazi occupation, a doomed enterprise that resulted in the death of approximately 200,000 Poles.

Trump will not meet Polish Prime Minister Beata Szydło during the visit, however, and he won’t meet any opposition leaders either.

In Warsaw, Trump is also expected to meet leaders of the 11 other EU member countries attending the Three Seas Conference. 

During his visit, Trump will attend a gathering of Central European, Baltic state and Balkan leaders, before heading to Hamburg.

Trump’s visit, which was announced last month, has seen Poland’s ruling rightwing Law and Justice party (PiS) struggling to contain its excitement - and Defence Minister Antoni Macierewicz said it showed “how much Poland’s place in geopolitics and world politics has changed.”

However, there was no masking the unease in Brussels and other European capitals that reportedly fear that Trump’s visit will be seen as an endorsement of a government which has repeatedly clashed with EU institutions over its assault on independent democratic institutions and its refusal to accept migrants under quotas agreed to by its pro-European predecessor.

Trump’s visit has prompted concerns over a presidential strategy which threatens not to unite Europe, but to divide it.

Gianni Pitella, leader of the Socialist bloc in the European parliament said in a statement, “After a few months of his presidency, Trump has already jeopardised the Paris agreement on the climate change, endangered the EU-U.S. and NATO relationships, and now he risks blowing up the already very delicate situation in Poland and Eastern Europe.”

Trump’s national security adviser, HR McMaster, meanwhile told reporters, “He will praise Polish courage throughout history’s darkest hour, and celebrate Poland’s emergence as a European power. And he will call on all nations to take inspiration from the spirit of the Poles as we confront today’s challenges.”

What has terrified the region, even more, is that the American President, whose administration is aspiring to expand its supply of liquid natural gas to Europe, is likely to endorse Poland’s continuing commitment to spending 2 percent of GDP on defence.

European leaders fear that controversy’s child Trump will also endorse Poland’s rejection of Muslim immigration.

Meanwhile, Trump is also expected to adhere to conventional diplomatic objectives regarding the recent deployment of American troops to Poland.

Following the Manchester bombing in May, Poland’s prime minister, Beata Szydlo, decried the “madness of the Brussels elite” who wanted to create a “utopia of open borders.”

Further, the country’s interior minister Mariusz Blaszczak blamed terrorism in western Europe on a drift from the continent’s Christian roots.

While being formally committed to Poland’s membership of the European Union, the government has accused the EU of being run as by “German diktat.”

German Chancellor Angela Merkel meanwhile has encouraged the EU to take a hard line against Poland over its attacks on the bloc’s “common values.”

Reports pointed out that the Polish government is highly sensitive about international – and particularly American – criticism of its moves to secure political control of state media outlets and the country’s judicial system since it assumed office in late 2015.

According to Piotr Buras, the director of the Warsaw office of the European Council on Foreign Relations, “For the Polish government, Trump’s visit is an opportunity to show that Warsaw’s much-discussed isolation is a myth, making the visit a success before it has even started.”

Reports quoted one EU diplomat anonymously, as saying, “It doesn’t feel like this visit can improve matters, but only make things that bit worse.”

Meanwhile, ahead of Trump’s visit, the Polish media claimed that the government had secured Trump’s attendance by promising a rapturous welcome from the Polish public – in stark contrast to the frostier reception he is expected to get in western European capitals.

 

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