During a meeting with the President of the Republic of Poland Andrzej Duda in Warsaw, Levits and his Polish counterpart discussed bilateral relations between Latvia and Poland, European Union (EU) agenda, regional security and infrastructure projects.
President Levits thanked Poland and Duda, for the warm, open and friendly welcome.
“Latvia and Poland share close ties dating a long way back, many centuries. For several centuries, a part of Latvia was incorporated into Poland, thus Polish culture and heritage is deeply embedded in our culture and heritage. We respect this heritage and hold it in high regard. Moreover, a hundred years ago, Poland rushed to Latvia’s help at a very crucial moment and expelled Soviet army from Latvia. 500 Polish soldiers died on the battlefield. Latvia will be forever grateful to Poland for its role in ensuring Latvia’s integrity. Polish troops deployed to Latvia in scope of NATO battlegroup right now, continue to provide vital support in ensuring our national and regional security. Transatlantic partnership is the cornerstone of Latvia’s and Poland’s security,” said President Levits.
During the meeting, presidents touched upon EU affairs and concluded that the unity of the EU remains crucial. “Europe will grow and avoid unnecessary rifts and conflicts only if we manage to find common denominators. This applies to both the policies and the public sentiments. We must prioritise such common interests at the strategic level to enable the EU to successfully compete with other global political and economic powers,” underlined the President of Latvia.
While discussing the proposed line-up of the European Commission (EU), both presidents confirmed their support to the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, and EC nominees from Poland and Latvia.
“I believe that the Polish candidate, Janusz Wojciechowski, who has extensive experience with agricultural policy, is very competent. Both Poland and Latvia will benefit from a more balanced agricultural policy of the EC. Our positions on the multi-annual financial framework (MFF), especially the cohesion policy funding, are the same. Cohesion Fund is an efficient instrument for reducing disparities between member states. To achieve convergence, which is EU’s strategic goal, cohesion policy should remain at the same level. Any cuts would slow down the process of convergence, and neither Latvia, nor Poland, nor any other EU member state would favour that,” said President Levits.
Both presidents also discussed Brexit and its impact on Latvian and Polish diasporas in the United Kingdom, and EU’s relations with Belarus and Ukraine. President Levits and President Duda expressed their support for territorial integrity of Ukraine and statehood of Belarus. They also talked about the Three Seas Initiative and Poland’s involvement in the Rail Baltica project.
📸Foto-Valsts prezidents Egils Levits pirmajā oficiālajā vizītē Polijā. Vizītē paredzēts pārrunāt Latvijas–Polijas attiecības, Eiropas Savienības dienaskārtības aktualitātes un jautājumus saistībā ar reģionālo drošību: https://t.co/T92FaiPUFb pic.twitter.com/yRwIJWPuqC— Valsts prezidents (@Rigas_pils) September 11, 2019
President Duda said he and Levits discussed transport connections and infrastructure: "The openness to cooperation on the part of Mr. President shows that we will continue to develop Polish-Latvian friendship and our care for interests of our part of Europe," he said, according to the website of the Polish President, adding that the two countries "travel the same paths on many issues."
The Polish influence remains important in Latvia to this day, with more than 2% of the population identifying as ethnic Poles.