Poland wants to open new flight routes to Japan: PM

Following Thursday’s Visegrad Four (V4) summit with Japan in Bratislava, Poland’s PM Mateusz Morawiecki said that Poland intends to open new flight routes with Japan.

“I asked [Japan’s] PM [Shinzo Abe] to intervene over the new slot for Polish LOT Airlines at one of its most important destinations in Japan,” said PM Morawiecki. A “slot” is a term describing a time at which a plane may land and take off from an airport.

LOT has been flying to Tokyo since January 2016 and, starting from the year’s summer season, flights are daily.

“We want to establish new connections with Japan. It is common knowledge that this is extremely important for economic and cultural exchange at all possible levels. We definitely want to broaden these relations with Japan. Both of our countries face similar problems, despite the geographical distance,” said Poland’s PM.

V4 summit in Bratislava

The PMs of the V4, which is a cultural and political alliance of Poland, Slovakia, the Czech Republic and Hungary, met with Japan’s PM Shinzo Abe in Bratislava on Thursday. It is the third time that the four Central European states and Japan have come together to discuss economic cooperation.

The dynamics of the Visegrad Group-Japan format have been constantly strengthening along with our appetite for increased trade and mutual investments, Polish PM Mateusz Morawiecki said. At a joint press conference, the Polish PM said that "in this context, we welcomed an economic partnership agreement that went into force [in February 2019]."

When the agreement is fully implemented, Japan will lift duties on 97 percent of goods imported from the EU. The deal also removes a range of non-tariff barriers.

Mr Morawiecki also pointed to a considerable number of Japanese investments in Central Europe, but he noted that it was not equally easy for European companies to enter the Japanese market, or Asian markets in general. The Polish PM also announced plans for economic missions to Japan and Poland.

Apart from PM Morawiecki, the meeting was attended by Slovak PM Peter Pellegrini, Czech PM Andrej Babis and Hungarian Deputy PM Mihaly Varga. According to Mr Pellegrini, Japan is willing to cooperate with the V4 countries, something which was evidenced by PM Abe's visit to Bratislava ahead of the EU-Japan summit.

PM Abe emphasised the importance of Japanese investments in the region, which, in his opinion, were possible owing to the stable economic growth of the V4 countries. He underlined that Japanese companies quickly saw the potential of the Visegrad Group and stressed that the free trade zone should continue to broaden.

The Czech PM declared that his country wanted to organise a similar meeting in Prague after the Czech Republic takes over the V4 rotating presidency in July. He also said that the V4 countries should play a larger role during negotiations regarding EU free trade deals.