Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk: Putin’s visit to Gdansk on Sept 1, 2009 would mean breakthrough in Russia’s view on history
Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin’s visit to Gdansk, Poland, to attend ceremonies commemorating the 70th anniversary of the beginning of WWII in September 2009 would mark a breakthrough in the evaluation of historical events, Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk said at a meeting with journalists from European countries in Warsaw. Interfax was the only Russian media outlet at the meetingRussian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin’s visit to Gdansk, Poland, to attend ceremonies commemorating the 70th anniversary of the beginning of WWII in September 2009 would mark a breakthrough in the evaluation of historical events, Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk said at a meeting with journalists from European countries in Warsaw. Interfax was the only Russian media outlet at the meeting.
"We expect head of Russian government Vladimir Putin to arrive in Gdansk in early September to take part in the events commemorating the 70th anniversary of the beginning of World War II. Putin’s presence on September 1 would be a breakthrough in our evaluation and reevaluation of historical events," Tusk said in reply to a question from Interfax.
"The Russian authorities do not recognize September 1 as the real beginning of a horrible war," Tusk said.
"A meeting between the Russian prime minister and the chancellor of Germany on September 1 would be a symbolic confirmation of the fact that the war started with Germany‘s invasion of Poland, namely Gdansk, and that it actually ended in Gdansk as well," Tusk said.
"This is important not only for us, the Poles, as this is our perception and interpretation of history. But symbolism of this would be important for the entire European Union and all of Russia," Tusk said.
"Another aspect of the visit is a working intergovernmental meeting at a very high level, including the prime ministers and many other ministers," he said.
Tusk said he would hope for clarification of many issues on which Russia and Poland disagree before Putin’s visit. In particular, he made it understood that navigation in the Vistula (Kaliningrad) Lagoon is among these issues.
As regards the plans to deploy U.S. Patriot missiles in Poland, Tusk said in reply to another question from Interfax that these plans are aimed at improving this country‘s air defense.
As for the deployment of a base for interceptor missiles in Poland as part of the U.S. global missile defense system, this depends only on Washington now, Tusk said in reply to a question from Interfax.
"We need to strengthen our defense, especially that against missiles," Tusk said.
"This is what explains our plans related to Patriots and other defense elements that need to be deployed in Poland," Tusk said.
"This is how we see the key articles of the Treaty of Washington [on NATO establishment]. We would like to see that NATO does not only confine itself to words about solidarity, but we would like to see that this can be tangible in case of a strike," he said.
In commenting on the U.S. plans to deploy missile defense elements in Poland, Tusk said, "In my view, the situation has not changed significantly after the presidential elections in the U.S. There was a statement on the U.S. part, I think it came from Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, that the defense strategy calls for certain revision and revaluation of the missile defense plans. We understand that the U.S. needs some time."
"As for Poland, we have already concluded an agreement with the U.S. to prepare for the deployment. However, we will not do this without the U.S. This is an American initiative. We have prepared to join it, because Poland is an important ally of the U.S.," he said.
Tusk’s spokesman Pawel Gras explained to Interfax that the deployment of Patriot missile systems in Poland does not imply the following automatic deployment of U.S. missile defense facilities in that country.
"In fact this is not necessarily interrelated," Gras said.
Polish Defense Minister Bogdan Klich said earlier that the first Patriot missile battery would be deployed in Poland by the end of 2009.
Speaking about the European Union’s enlargement, Tusk said Poland supported Ukraine’s accession to the EU and considered Georgia to be a strategic partner of NATO and the EU.
“We are in favor of the European Union’s enlargement. We support Ukraine, Croatia and Turkey in their desire to join the EU. This is an immutable position of the Polish government,” he said.
“We support and promote the EU enlargement by admitting these three countries,” he said.
As regards Georgia, Tusk said, “Georgia is a strategic partner for the EU and NATO. Poland has been resolute about the prospect of Georgia’s accession to NATO, even though we might not always be enthusiastic about some statements by Georgian politicians.”