Polish deputy FM welcomes Czech presidential hopeful’s commitment to 'allied unity’

A Polish deputy foreign minister has said that Warsaw welcomes the fact that a Czech presidential candidate has backtracked on his recent controversial statement about NATO and Poland.

Paweł Jabłoński

Paweł JabłońskiPR1

Poland’s Paweł Jabłoński made the remarks in an interview with public broadcaster Polish Radio on Tuesday. 

Jabłoński was referring to a statement by Andrej Babiš, a former Czech prime minister who is now running for the presidency.

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

His words drew sharp criticism from his election rival Petr Pavel and from the Czech government, news outlets reported. 

Meanwhile, Polish government spokesman Piotr Müller said on Monday evening: “It worries me that a candidate for office in Europe, in a NATO member country, could utter such words.”

NATO’s collective defence principle 'not subject to discussion’   

Babiš said on Monday that if a NATO ally was invaded, he would „of course” respect the alliance’s principle of collective defence, Polish state news agency PAP reported.

The former Czech prime minister said in a tweet: “During the debate on Czech TV, I did not want to answer a hypothetical question about an attack on Poland or the Baltic states. I am certain it will not happen and I don’t even want to contemplate it. The world’s politicians have a duty to prevent war.”

He added: “If a war broke out, I would of course comply with Article 5 [of the NATO Treaty], which is not subject to discussion.” 

‘Sovereign decision of the Czech people

In the wake of the controversy, Jabłoński was asked by Polish Radio whether the government in Warsaw would prefer Babiš or Pavel as the next Czech president.

Jabłoński said: “The Polish foreign ministry and the Polish government won’t tell the Czech nation whom to elect as their president. It’s a sovereign decision of the Czech people. As for Andrej Babiš’s statement, our assessment is very negative.”

Jabłoński told Polish Radio that “it’s very good that Andrej Babiš backtracked on his statement so quickly, under pressure from the public.”

He added: “Any sign that allied unity is in danger or has been disrupted would be terrible news, weakening NATO and strengthening Russia.” 

Poland, Czech Republic 'are close allies’ in EU, NATO  

Jabłoński also said that Poland “has very good cooperation with the current Czech government on security issues” and the two countries “are close allies in the European Union and NATO.”

He added: “We are doing everything to ensure that this cooperation continues … regardless of who will be the next president of the Czech Republic.” 

Babiš and Pavel, a former NATO general, will face off in the presidential runoff on Friday and Saturday. 

According to the latest polls, Pavel is the front-runner to become the Czech Republic’s new head of state, the PAP news agency reported.

(pm/gs)

Source: PAP, niezalezna.pl

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