Poland envisages a “radical” reinforcement of its army

Updated 57 minutes ago

WARSAW, Poland (AP) – The leader of Poland’s ruling party on Tuesday presented plans for a homeland defense bill which he says aims to “radically” strengthen the military as the country faces to migratory pressure from its eastern neighbor, Belarus.

Jaroslaw Kaczynski, Deputy Prime Minister who is arguably Poland’s most powerful politician, said the bill was necessary due to the deteriorating international situation and also the geopolitical situation in Poland. Examples he gave included neighboring “Imperial Russian ambitions” and Belarus’ hybrid war against Poland and other countries in the European Union using migrants.

“If we want to avoid the worst, which is war, we have to act according to the old rule: ‘If you want peace, prepare for war’,” Kaczynski said in a statement. press conference in Warsaw.

He argued that as a country located on the eastern flank of the European Union and NATO, Poland must have a serious deterrent force and the “ability to defend itself effectively for a long time by it. -same”.

He noted that NATO decisions take time to implement.

The bill, which has yet to be approved by parliament and the president, aims to replace a bill that had existed since 1967. At that time, Poland was a member of the eastern military alliance of the Warsaw Pact, under the control from Moscow. Since 1999, it has been a member of NATO and is regularly cited as one of the few Alliance members to invest at least 2% of its GDP in defense.

Kaczynski said, speaking alongside Defense Minister Mariusz Blaszczak, that he believed the changes would also benefit NATO.

Kaczynski and Blaszczak presented a plan to increase the defense budget and more than double the size of the army to at least 250,000 troops and 50,000 reservists. The changes do not imply the reinstatement of compulsory military service.

Kaczynski also said Poland hopes to strengthen its forces by purchasing US-produced military hardware, but will also consider European-made weapons.

Some opposition lawmakers criticized the plans, noting that they came from the ruling Law and Justice party, which they say has repeatedly weakened the military.

“It doesn’t look good,” said Cezary Tomczyk, a lawmaker with the centrist Civic Platform party. “Who purged the army of generals, colonels and majors? Who stopped the modernization of the Polish army?

The plan to strengthen the army comes as Poland faces strong migratory pressure from Belarus. Warsaw accuses the Belarusian regime of President Alexander Lukashenko of encouraging migrants from the Middle East, Africa and elsewhere to seek entry into the EU via Poland.

It also comes as Poland increasingly finds itself at odds with its EU partners, with a dispute over changes to Polish courts – which the EU sees as an attack on judicial independence – s’ is stepping up this month. Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki told the Financial Times in comments published on Monday that if the EU withheld funds from Poland for rule of law issues, it would be like starting World War III.

In another political development, Morawiecki on Tuesday announced changes in his cabinet, including new people appointed to head the climate ministry, the agriculture ministry and the technology and development ministry. Some observers said the changes involved the departure of some of Morawiecki’s allies.

Poland responded to the migrant crisis by declaring a state of emergency along the border with Belarus. He also fortified the border with razor wire and deployed soldiers to assist the border guards. The government is also planning to build a high permanent barrier with motion detectors.

Polish border guards also pushed migrants back across the border, including some families with children. A new Polish law came into force on Tuesday that legalizes refoulements.

Human rights officials criticized the state of emergency in Poland while the UN refugee agency said the new legislation “undermines the fundamental right to seek asylum”.


Follow all of AP’s stories on global migration at https://apnews.com/hub/migration.

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