What surprised the Law and Justice government coalition partners, had been the lack of consultations on the decision concerning the scope of Polish participation in the NATO Afghan mission, as well as its character and duration.
The operation will cost Polish taxpayers some 75 million euros and for the first time Polish troops would be engaged in direct combat and not peace keeping duties. Another serious reservation, and not only of ruling coalition members, has been the place and time this decision was announced. Opponents were quick to claim that the Prime Minister's working visit to the United States, have not been the best choice, if only for the sake of reactions and comments.
But these, at least on the part of top American officials such as chairman of the House of Representatives, Dennis Hastert, has been very positive.
We had a very cordial discussion, talking about how we are working together, the common responsibilities that we have against fighting terrorism in the world. Poland is a very strong ally and a good friend.'
President Lech Kaczynski, the PM's twin brother, also sees no harm in this Polish pledge and fully supports the decision.
Still, former President Lech Walesa has been critical of the government decision.
've always had a different concept. The world is badly organised, it needs global structures. I'd manage a different solution under the circumstances.'
As of February next year, one thousand Polish troops will be stationed in Bagram and operating in the eastern parts of Afghanistan under direct NATO command. The duration of their combat mission against the Taliban has initially been set for one year, but experts are certain it will last much longer.
I can do more with more forces. So, it is important, this Polish decision to answer the request for more forces in Afghanistan. This is a very important operation for NATO. It is NATO's first priority and we're doing well.'
Wojciech Luczak, editor of the RAPORT military magazine, reminds of ideas outlined by former Polish decision makers and points to their continuation being a reflection of NATO concepts.
'There was something like a policy declared during the last coalition government that Polish resence in Iraq should be dramatically decreased in favor of Afghanistan, in favor of a NATO led mission. Everyone said we are in Iraq as an American ally and not of the North Atlantic Alliance. Former NATO Secretary General, lord Robertson and the current Secretary have asked many times about increasing European military presence of NATO members for such an important mission as Afghanistan. It's the creation of security and safe zone for developing a new future.'
Not questioning the validity of the very idea of participation in the NATO operation in Afghanistan, a common sense balance of Polish forces in Iraq and Afghanistan is what both the junior government coalition partners and opposition have been calling for. It remains to be seen whether a suitable solution can be found by Warsaw.Listen to the report:
The Hungarian capital was the scene of repeated overnight violence and demonstrations this week. These were prompted by what will probably go down in history, as one of the worst gaffes made by a ruling politician. Socialist Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsany, admitted in a behind-doors meeting that his government “messed up and lied”. The problem is that all of this was leaked to the press, and led to demonstrations and riots. Network Europe’s EU insider reports from the Hungarian capital, Budapest.
What did Hungary’s socialist Prime Minister say exactly ? His leaked comments have sparked off the Budapest riots, but are there other reasons for discontent in Hungary? Radio Romania International has the answers.
In Sweden, voters have sent the Social Democrats into opposition in last week-end’s general elections. Swedes normally refuse to go right, the Social Democrats have been in the driving seat for most of the last eighty years. But this time apparently, they thought it was time for a change. Frederik Reinfeldt, the leader of the centre right coalition and next prime minister, is working to form a new government which is due to take power on the fifth of October. Radio Sweden tells what people in Sweden can expect from the new team in power.
On Wednesday the leader of the National Front, Jean Marie Le Pen, announced he would run in the country’s next presidential elections in Spring, his fifth bid for the presidency. The seventy eight year old leader made the announcement from the battlefield of Valmy, a key site in the history of the French Revolution. Can Le Pen, notorious for his racist and revisionist remarks, succeed in presenting himself as a Republican ? Can he capitalise on his breakthrough into the second round of the country's elections four years ago ? Radio France International reports from Valmy.
Romania and its neighbour Bulgaria, will most probably join the European Union on January the 1st , 2007. Many Romanians support membership because it will allow them to work and gain experience abroad, preferably in the UK. But Radio Romania International explains that the UK may curtail its open doors policy.
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