Poland to remove dozens of ambassadors at ‘challenging’ time

World

Poland is recalling 50 of its ambassadors as Warsaw tries to improve diplomatic missions at a difficult time, with neighbouring Ukraine battling Russia’s full-scale war.

The diplomats were all appointed by the populist Law and Justice (PiS) party, which had held power since 2015 before losing December’s general election.

Those being recalled have not been named by Poland’s foreign ministry, which said in a statement the “necessary” move “will help to address the difficult challenges facing Poland’s foreign policy today in a better, more professional manner”.

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A further “dozen or so candidates” nominated for positions by former officials had been withdrawn, the ministry said on its website.

Prime Minister Donald Tusk approved of the changes, the statement said, and the process has started, although it stopped short of giving specific dates or saying if any foreign postings would be cut.

Mr Tusk, a former president of the European Council, said it was “not a retaliation” against his government’s predecessors, but said it was crucial to have a team of loyal envoys as neighbouring Ukraine battles Russia’s full-scale war.

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The changes must be approved by Polish President Andrzej Duda, who has been linked to the previous government and has been critical of Tusk.

If Mr Duda does not consent, charges d’affaires, or deputy ambassadors, would run those embassies where ambassadors were recalled.

Mr Tusk, who heads the Civic Coalition, which took office at the head of a three-way parliamentary group in December, has also complimented Poland’s ambassador to Washington, Marek Magierowski, which suggested the key envoy might not be recalled.

It’s being seen as an attempt by Warsaw to distance itself from the previous administration, the right-wing populist Law and Justice (PiS) party, which often clashed with the EU, notably on issues such as judicial independence, the rule of law, and minority rights.

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After returning to office last year, Mr Tusk who also led the country between 2007 and 2014, promised to “right the wrongs so that everyone, without exception, can feel at home”.

Poland has been a staunch and vocal supporter of Ukraine since Russia invaded in 2022, its leaders often warning that if Ukraine was allowed to fall, Poland or the Baltic states could be next on Vladimir Putin’s list.

Earlier this week, Mr Tusk urged US Republicans to back President Joe Biden’s bid to provide a further $60bn in military aid to Ukraine, warning not doing so “will cost thousands of lives”.

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