I won’t be provoked: President Duda on string of provocations

Poland’s President Andrzej Duda and runner in the forthcoming presidential elections of May 2020 has commented on a string of provocation attempts he has faced.

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“If someone tries to provoke me in this manner, he will not succeed,” Mr Duda said in an interview with Poland’s “Sieci” weekly.

With the presidential campaign underway, President Duda has been targeted a number of times by a group of provocateurs. For instance, vitriolic language was used by a group trying to disrupt President Duda’s speech during the 100th anniversary of Poland regaining access to the Baltic Sea that took place on February 10, 2020, in the coastal town of Puck.

“I find this type of behaviour disgraceful,” Mr Duda said of the disrupters, adding that “this is truly a great anniversary for Poland… I feel sorry that this resplendent celebration was disrupted in such a disgraceful way.”

Some participants of the provocation were misidentified as Puck citizens. The “Sieci” daily argues that some of the troublemakers were reportedly identified as participators of other provocations against Mr Duda carried out in other locations.

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Illness and human suffering used as political tools

The Sieci interviewer asked Mr Duda’s stance on the oppositions’ attempts to contradict the bill that provides PLN 2 bn (EUR 465 mln) funding to public TV and radio to compensate for the loss of income with the opposition’s suggestion to divert the money to fund oncological services.

“Illness and human suffering are instrumentally used to meet political ends,” replied Mr Duda, adding that the contraposition “is obviously a manipulation.”

“The truth is that [gov’t] funding for cancer treatment is growing. At the beginning of February… together with Health Minister Łukasz Szumowski we have presented the National Oncological Strategy, which is a comprehensive, 10-year plan for combating cancer. We are fully aware of the gravity of the issue.”

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Russia needs to change its policy for relations with Poland to improve

“Of course we would love to have good relations with Russia, for instance, good trade exchange,” President Duda replied to a question on whether there was a way to improve Polish-Russian relations. “This, however, requires Russian politics towards Poland and other countries of the region to change.”

Mr Duda also recalled that “Russia is an aggressor in Ukraine. It did not stop its aggression, it is still occupying the Crimea Peninsula and the [East Ukrainian] territories of Donetsk and Luhansk. It supports the so-called separatists and behaves in a hostile manner towards other states.” Russia “displays a show of strength by, for instance, violating [other countries’] airspace,” said Mr Duda, adding that “it is thus not a state that could be described as trustworthy or one that pursues its goals in a peaceful way.”