Andrzej Duda.jpg
Photograph: Photo by Lukas Plewnia, used under CC BY-SA

Polish President Andrzej Duda reached out Monday to his European partners before arriving for talks in Brussels, amid a dispute triggered by concerns that reforms by Warsaw may be in breach of the bloc's fundamental values.

Poland's new conservative government, which took office in November, has come under fire for a string of measures that critics say aim to strengthen its grip on the judiciary and the media.

The EU launched an investigation last week into the compatibility of the reforms with the bloc's basic democratic values. On Tuesday, the issue will be debated in the European Parliament, in the presence of Polish Prime Minister Beata Szydlo.

The dispute has raised tensions between Warsaw and its European partners, at a time when unity is needed within the 28-member EU to confront the bloc's migration crisis and other challenges.

Duda did not speak to the media on his arrival in Brussels, but he struck a conciliatory tone ahead of his visit, which included talks with EU President Donald Tusk, a fellow Pole.

"We are and will remain pro-European," Duda wrote in a guest contribution for the Financial Times newspaper.

"Poland wishes to maintain a friendly and fruitful relationship with all our partners in Europe. This is particularly true of Germany, given our proximity and our recent history of successful political and economic co-operation," he added.

Jaroslaw Kaczynski, head of the ruling Polish national conservative Law and Justice Party, took a harsher tone than Duda regarding the EU investigation.

"We have to follow our path and must not submit to pressure," Kaczynski told Polish newspaper Rzeczposolita.

"We're being attacked for nothing," he added.

The recent reforms have triggered a diplomatic tit-for-tat with Germany in particular, stoked by accusations from EU Parliament President Martin Schulz - a German national - that Warsaw was conducting "Putin-style politics."

On Monday, Luxembourg Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn called the developments "very regrettable" and "serious."

But Duda defended the government's reform programme, noting that "democracy and free media in Poland are not endangered in the least."

He called on the EU to focus its attention instead on the bloc's "most troubling problems," pointing to the threat of terrorism and the migration crisis.

He also called on his European partners not to lose sight of the menace looming from Russia, and said they must "adapt to the new geopolitical circumstances."

"NATO's eastern flank should be reinforced. The alliance has to rebuild its deterrent capabilities. Defence expenditures must be increased," Duda wrote.

He is due to hold talks later Monday with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg. The military alliance is due to hold its next summit in Warsaw, in July.

Related stories

Latest news

Six injured, 96 detained in Berlin fan clashes

Six people were treated in hospital and 96 detained in clashes in Berlin between fans of Hertha Berlin and Eintracht Frankfurt, police said Sunday.

Croatian government condemns extremism

The Croatian government on Sunday condemned all forms of extremism and acts of provocative nature aimed against the Serb minority in Vukovar as well as the rally organised by the Autochthonous Croatian Party of Rights (A-HSP) in Zagreb on Friday.

Approx. 7,500 migrants prevented from illegally entering Serbia in past 8 months

In the past several months, the authorities have prevented the illegal entry of approximately 7,500 migrants on Serbian soil. Serbian Interior Minister Nebojsa Stefanovic said Sunday.

Merkel's conservatives and Schulz's centre-left draw even in survey

Voter support for the German centre-left Social Democrats (SPD) is on par with Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservatives, a survey published Sunday showed.

Police arrest A-HSP party chief at rally in Zagreb

Police arrested Autochthonous Croatian Party of Rights (A-HSP) chief Drazen Keleminac for disturbing the peace at a public rally organised by the A-HSP in Zagreb on Sunday.

Kidnapped German archaeologists freed in Nigeria

Two German archaeologists who were kidnapped in northern Nigeria have been released, police said Sunday.

Turkey has built 290 kilometres of wall on border with Syria

Turkey has erected 290 kilometres of a planned 511-kilometre wall along its border with Syria, local media reported Sunday, citing the head of the building authority in charge of the project.

Syrian forces close in on city held by Turkish-backed rebels

Syrian government forces on Sunday seized a town from the Islamic State extremist militia near the northern city of al-Bab already under the control of Turkish-backed rebels, Syrian state media and monitors reported.

At least 90 Christian families escape Sinai attacks

At least 90 families reached Egypt's Ismailiya governorate, after escaping targeted killings by a local Islamic State militia in northern Sinai in recent days, an official at the Coptic Orthodox Church said Sunday.

40,000 Croats suffer from anorexia and bulimia

More than 40,000 Croatians, mostly girls and young women aged between 12 and 30, suffer from anorexia, bulimia or some other eating disorder and that number is growing each year, experts at the centre for eating disorders BEA have reported.

Iranian ex-president Ahmadinejad praises Trump

Former Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad wrote a personal letter to Donald Trump in which he praised the US president and wished him well in his tenure, local media reported Sunday.

Russians honour slain opposition leader Nemtsov in Moscow rally

A demonstration on the second anniversary of the assassination of Russian opposition leader Boris Nemtsov drew thousands of people to the streets of Moscow on Sunday.