Poland’s new President, Andrzej Duda, has promised to strengthen national security and urged cooperation to “repair the republic” in his inaugural speech after being sworn into office Thursday.
Duda took his oath in a ceremony in front of the Polish National Assembly, which consists of two parliamentary chambers, marking the official start of the Krakow-born lawyer’s five-year term as Head of State.
In his first speech as president, Duda said Poland and its neighbouring countries required `greater guarantees from NATO.’
“We need an increased NATO presence in our part of Europe and in our country,” he said.
He also called for the development of a strong, well-equipped army owing to the ongoing conflict in neighbouring Ukraine.
While Duda said he wanted an increased cooperation with the countries of the Visegrad group he did not mention German-Polish or Russian-Polish relations in his inaugural speech.
The group comprises Poland, Slovakia, Hungary and Czech Republic.
Duda called for corrective steps in Poland’s foreign policy.
“That means to present our point of view by communicating it to our partners on the international stage in a quiet yet decisive way,” he said.
The former Law and Justice (PiS) party member relinquished his PiS membership after the election, but maintains close ties to the centre-right party.
PiS politicians have shown considerably more euroscepticism than the ruling Liberal-Conservative Civic Platform (PO).
Hundreds of Poles, many of them waving flags in Poland’s national colours of white and red, watched the inauguration on a big video screen in Warsaw’s castle square.
Others gathered in front of the Presidential Palace to welcome Duda on his arrival in the afternoon.
As children splashed in water streaming from open hydrants on the hot summer day, PiS supporters hoped that under Duda’s presidency the country would change.
“Andrej Duda, this will succeed,” Malgorzata Kominska from Warsaw said, while fanning herself with a newspaper.
An elderly man held up a poster saying, `Andrzej Duda, let’s save Poland.’
“This is just the beginning of change. I’m optimistic that in October PiS will win the parliamentary election,” 56-year-old Dominik Wisniewski said.
Duda succeeds Bronislaw Komorowski following a result in May that defied pre-election polls.
As president, Duda now has the power to veto acts of parliament. He will also be able to initiate his own bills.
While the Polish president is expected to remain politically neutral, Duda has promised to reject all proposed laws that seek to fundamentally change the country.
He made it clear that he does not intend to restrict himself to merely ceremonial duties.
Poland’s Prime Minister, Eva Kopacz, and her governing PO party have recently slipped behind PiS in the opinion polls.
Controversial issues such as a bill on artificial insemination and growing pressure from the European Union on climate reform have proven hard to swallow for many Polish voters in recent months.
In a farewell speech on Polish television, outgoing president Komorowski said he had endeavoured to pursue the roads of `unity’ dialogue and compromise” during his time in office.
He also named state security as a pressing task in the coming months in veiled reference to Russia’s military intervention in Ukraine.
Photo Credit: www.poranny.pl