Tusk wins second term as EU chief despite Polish fury

2017-03-10 13:26

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Brussels - European Union leaders confirmed Donald Tusk for a second term as their president, angering his home country of Poland and opening up a new rift at a time when EU unity is essential.

The 27 other EU leaders overrode weeks of objections from the nationalist government in Warsaw, which has a long and bitter rivalry with former Prime Minister Tusk and opposed giving him another term at the EU.

Tusk's supporters portrayed his re-election on Thursday as head of the EU Council, one of the bloc's most prestigious jobs, as a sign of stability and continuity for the troubled bloc.

Tusk's future was dealt with in less than an hour as fellow leaders rejected the argument of Poland, an increasingly awkward partner, that a decision should be delayed.

That spared the EU a long debate about its leadership at a time when it is dealing with Britain's planned departure and a host of other challenges. Austrian Chancellor Christian Kern said such a dispute would "plunge Europe into a senseless crisis".

"The dispute was expected," said Al Jazeera's Nadim Baba, reporting from Brussels.

There is a lot of bad blood between the current administration in Warsaw and the president of the European Council. Donald Tusk himself acknowledge what he called a paradox that his own country opposed him, but he is promising to make the European Union a better and stronger institution."

Poland said it would refuse to approve some summit texts, and raised questions about how lasting a rift the move would create.

Polish Prime Minister Beata Szydlo said it was "very bad" that Tusk was pushed through over the objections of his home country, adding that "today it applies to Poland, but in the future this may apply to other nations".

With a show of 27 hands that isolated Poland, Tusk still felt there was enough unity around him to go on for a second term of two and a half years.

The council president is responsible for chairing summits; coordinating the work of member countries and making sure the 28 nations speak as much as possible with one voice on the international stage.

"It may sound like a paradox because of the context, but anyway, your decision is an expression of our unity today," Tusk told leaders after his re-election. "I will work with all of you without any exceptions because I am truly devoted to a united Europe."

Szydlo, however, said Tusk could not be impartial when it came to dealing with the government in Warsaw.

The leader of Poland's governing Law and Justice party, Jaroslaw Kaczynski, accused Tusk of disloyalty to his homeland, saying he didn't have the right to "function under (Poland's) white and red flag".

In an apparent reference to the Polish government, Tusk said: "Be careful of the bridges you burn because once they are gone you can never cross them again."He also vowed to keep his nation out of political isolation despite its obstructionist course.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said other EU countries had spoken extensively with Poland beforehand.

She said it is important to seek consensus, but "the search for consensus must of course not be used for a blockade".

Merkel stressed other EU countries' interest in good relations with Poland. "We will see how things develop. I hope that we can return to sensible cooperation," she said.

Poland's government argues that Tusk supports the domestic opposition in Poland and has failed to protect the country's interests in the EU.
There is also long-standing personal animosity between Tusk and Kaczynski, Poland's most influential politician.

Kaczynski accuses Tusk of contributing, through lax security, to the death of his twin brother, President Lech Kaczynski, in a plane crash in 2010.

On Thursday, Warsaw failed to win support even from frequent ally Hungary, which has also clashed in recent years with Brussels over Hungary's refusal to take in migrants and over concerns about the rule of law.

Other EU countries weren't impressed with its proposal that Jacek Saryusz-Wolski, a little-known European Parliament lawmaker, replace Tusk in a job traditionally held by a former national leader.

"I don't see how one country could oppose this solution when all the others are in favour," French President Francois Hollande said.


Read more on:    eu  |  europe

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X

Inside News24

 
/World
 

Fascinating facts about dogs

Think you know a lot about dogs? How many of these facts do you know?

 
 

Paws

Perfectly captured cat snapchats!
Fascinating facts about dogs
Out with the old dog, in with the new
Play with your pet when you're not at home
Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.