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Interfax: Poland should host U.S. anti-missile base to enhance strategic partnership - opposition politician

23.2.2007 17:46

WROCLAW. FEBRUARY 23. INTERFAX CENTRAL EUROPE - Poland should agree to host a U.S. anti-missile base to enhance its strategic partnership with the superpower, Bogdan Zdrojewski, parliamentary caucus chairman of the chief opposition Civic Platform (PO) party, told Interfax Central Europe at the Europe-Ukraine Forum Friday.

"The security of the United States should not be irrelevant to Poland," said Zdrojewski, who chairs the defense committee of the Sejm, the powerful lower chamber of Parliament. "It is often said Poland will not gain anything from this and will instead put itself in harm's way. I say, if the U.S. feels more secure, that is not irrelevant for us - that is a gain in itself."

The Polish government has agreed to enter into negotiations with the United States on the proposal to host elements of the missile defense system and is expected to eventually give its consent. While political opposition to the scheme is limited within Poland, the support of some opposition parties, as well as junior partners in the government coalition, comes with strings attached. Deputy Prime Minister Andrzej Lepper, the leader of the populist Samoobrona (Self-Defense) has spoken of a referendum on the issue, while PO leader Donald Tusk has criticized the government's overtly apparent enthusiasm for the scheme, making it difficult to win concessions from the United States.

Zdrojewski said Parliament should be asked to ratify the agreement, rather than the country, in the form of a referendum.

"There is absolutely no way you should hold a referendum on an issue that does not allow for a yes-or-no answer," he said. "But we are dealing with a decision that goes beyond recent precedent, so President Lech Kaczynski must seek a mandate from Parliament to sign the treaty."

Zdrojewski said PO was looking for a number of specific issues to be addressed in return for its support for the scheme.

"Our stance is quite unequivocal," he said. "And I can state it in three or four steps."

In addition to Poland's concern with U.S. security, Zdrojewski said Poland should do its utmost to ensure that its own security is an issue of importance to the single global superpower. As a consequence, it should negotiate to win concessions in return for hosting the base, asking Americans to boost Polish military capacity through the handover of up-to-date defense technologies.

"Fourthly, we must position ourselves in the negotiations, so that parliament, the opposition and the public opinion are fully informed," he said.


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