Polish Leader Praises Bush; Bucks European View, Calls Multilateralism a 'conviction'.(PAGE ONE)

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), July 15, 2002 | Go to article overview
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Polish Leader Praises Bush; Bucks European View, Calls Multilateralism a 'conviction'.(PAGE ONE)


Byline: Nicholas Kralev, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

WARSAW - President Aleksander Kwasniewski of Poland, who has emerged as the staunchest European supporter of President Bush's foreign policy, in an interview ahead of his state visit to Washington dismissed European complaints that the Bush administration is conducting unilateral policies.

Multilateralism, he said, is a "conviction" of both Mr. Bush and his advisers, and "not a tactical move related to the building of the anti-terrorist coalition."

In his actions since September 11, "Mr. Bush showed that he understood very well that he had partners in Europe and the rest of the world, and that they were to be treated with seriousness," said Mr. Kwasniewski, a Social Democrat and communist-era government official who succeeded Lech Walesa at his country's helm six years ago.

He arrives in Washington tomorrow for what will be just the second state visit of the Bush presidency after Mexican President Vicente Fox's.

Speaking in his Warsaw office last week, Mr. Kwasniewski noted NATO's embrace of Russia in May as a de facto ally, as well as the strong U.S. support for the alliance's enlargement later this year.

Both actions, he said, showed "that the Americans have a sense of their strength, because they have unquestionable power, but they don't neglect their policy of cooperating with their partners."

While grateful at being honored with a state visit, Mr. Kwasniewski said he would not shy in his talks with Mr. Bush from less pleasant topics, such as the fading enthusiasm of American investors for putting their money in Poland.

"As for the bilateral U.S.-Polish relationship, it needs to be reinforced in the economic sphere," he said. "The United States is one of the leading investors in our country, but the American investment interest has weakened."

Although for most of the 1990s the United States was the largest investor in Poland, government figures show that by the end of last year France had taken the lead with $10.2 billion in investment, compared with $7.8 billion from the United States.

Foreign investors were further disappointed 10 days ago when Finance Minister Marek Belka resigned, putting the Polish currency, the zloty, under pressure and prompting talk of a rift between Mr. Kwasniewski and Prime Minister Leszek Miller, also a Social Democrat.

Mr. Kwasniewski said the resignation is "part of democracy" and will not deter Poland from restoring economic growth - now languishing at 1 percent - or from joining the European Union in 2004.

Poland, which became a NATO member in 1999, strongly supports the alliance's further expansion, particularly the applications of the three Baltic states, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.

Mr. Kwasniewski rejected criticism in the West that his country, along with the other two newest members, Hungary and the Czech Republic, had not done enough to prove that it deserved acceptance.

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Polish Leader Praises Bush; Bucks European View, Calls Multilateralism a 'conviction'.(PAGE ONE)
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