Polish President Duda starts two-day visit

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Polish President Andrzej Duda began the official engagements of a two-day working visit to Latvia June 27 with meetings at Rīga Castle with President Raimonds Vējonis and the presentation of a book to the Latvian National Library.

"Latvia and Poland have excellent relations, both at the level of states and officials, and between our people. We are reliable partners in NATO and the European Union. Polish soldiers NATO's expanded battle groups in Latvia play a pivotal role with our Latvian soldiers every day for our security," said Vējonis in anticipation of the visit.

Speaking after their initial exchanges, Vējonis said: "Our countries attach great importance to traditional policies - cohesion policy and the common agricultural policy. We do not support the current proposal to cut funding for cohesion policy, as it will slow down the convergence of our countries to the EU average living standards. At the same time, Latvia and Poland are pushing for a level playing field in agriculture," said Vejonis.

For his part, President Duda said that while dialogue with Russia was required, it should be done with caution given that country's track record in Ukraine and elsewhere.

"There are still problems in Georgia, where its territory is actually occupied. We can not look at everything indifferently. Therefore, we are absolutely against attempts to raise the level of dialogue with Russia and we believe that sanctions should remain. Goodwill must first be forthcoming from Russia itself, which must demonstrate that it really thinks seriously about the implementation of peace. Unfortunately, Russia is currently an aggressor. And these are facts," said Duda, who was also handed the Order of Three Stars for special merit in favor of Latvia.

On Thursday morning, President Duda, accompanied by Defence Minister Mariusz Błaszczak, will visit the Polish contingent stationed in Adazi as part of NATO's enhanced forward presence in Eastern Europe.

President Duda's aide Krzysztof Szczerski told the PAP newswire that the visit will stress this presence and will confirm that "Poland is not only a receiver of collective security but also its supplier to other countries."

At the end of his visit to Latvia, President Duda will meet with Poles living in Daugavpils - or ''Dyneburg'' as it is called on the Polish President's official webpage.

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