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May 10, 2018 12:00 am | FILED UNDER: europe

Zeman Backs Poland In Dispute With EC

By ČTK Czech President Milos Zeman

Warsaw, May 10 (CTK special correspondent) – Poland has the right to deal with its raw materials, including forests, President Milos Zeman, now on a visit to Poland, told journalists today, speaking about the feud between Poland and the European Commission over the tree cutting in the Bialowieza Forest.

 

Zeman said this after meeting his Polish counterpart Andrzej Duda whom he invited to the Czech Republic.

 

Zeman said Duda and him had spoken about the attempts to disrupt the Visegrad Four (the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland and Hungary) and to enforce the will of the EC on it in some affairs that breach the subsidiarity principle.

 

Zeman said each country had the right to decide on its internal affairs, including the right to deal with its own raw materials, which also covered forest.

 

Due to the cutting of trees in the primeval Bialowieza Forest, the EC has filed a complaint against Poland.

 

In mid-April, the EU court ruled that the EC was right.

 

Poland said it had started the felling in order to combat the bark beetle there.

 

Zeman will visit the forest on Friday.

 

He said his visit should be perceived as a sign of solidarity with Poland.

 

Zeman said in the EU the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland and Hungary should create a sort of “indivisible unit insisting on its interests” such as those in the sphere of the migrant crisis and relocation of the refugees.

 

Duda said he and Zeman mainly discussed economic cooperation at the meeting today.

 

For Poland, the Czech Republic is the second largest export destination, Duda said, adding that he hoped that the intensive bilateral trade would continue to grow.

 

Duda said he agreed with the view that the two countries had to closely cooperate in the V4, which is a condition for them to be approached as important within the EU.

 

The debate also focused on the EU budget and the next budget framework. Duda and Zeman agreed that Britain’s departure would bring about a large gap in the budget.

 

Duda opened the question of the Three Seas Initiative with its goal to interconnect the countries between the Baltic, Black and Adriatic Seas. Duda said rail and road connection should be improved as should the relevant countries’ cooperation in the energy field.

 

Zeman was received with military honours in the presidential palace. At first, the presidential couples met and then the two heads of state had talks.

 

Duda was most recently in the Czech Republic in March 2016, while Zeman was in Poland at a Visegrad Four summit in October 2016.

 

Later today, Zeman met Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki and also the head of the Polish Senate, Stanislaw Karczewski.

 

Before, he bowed to an unknown soldier’s grave that commemorates wars that involved Poland. He also laid flowers at the monument to the victims of the tragedy near Smolensk, Russia, in which Polish president Lech Kaczynski and dozens of other high officials died in an air accident in 2010.

 

Poland is the second country, after Slovakia, Zeman has visited since his January re-election, for which Duda thanked him and said this proves how important Czech-Polish relations are for Zeman and for Prague.

 

On Friday, the programme of Zeman’s three-day Polish visit will end by his tour of the Bialowieza Forest. He will return to Prague in the afternoon.

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