- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 3, 2004

Poland pleased

In a Europe of cantankerous Bush-haters, Poland stood out as a strong supporter of President Bush, and the Polish ambassador is one of the happiest foreign diplomats in Washington today.

“I am. I am,” Ambassador Przemyslaw Grudzinski said when asked whether he is cheered by the re-election of the president.

The ambassador yesterday was making arrangements for his president, Aleksander Kwasniewski, to telephone Mr. Bush with his congratulations.

Mr. Kwasniewski told Poland’s TVN television yesterday that the re-election of Mr. Bush is “good news.”

Polish Defense Minister Jerzy Szmajdzinski said in a radio interview that Poland prefers “strong and decisive leaders” like Mr. Bush.

“George Bush is closer to us with his actions. He is predictable and strong,” he said.

Elsewhere in Europe, newspapers reported that 70 percent of citizens in France, Germany, Italy and Spain supported Sen. John Kerry. The Massachusetts Democrat was even favored in some Baltic countries.

Ojars Kalnins, a former Latvian ambassador to the United States, said, “There is a greater tendency to promote trans-Atlantic cooperation under the Democrats than the Republicans. Under Kerry there would be less of a unilateral, America-first instinct, whereas under Bush, there is no indication things would change for the better.”

Mr. Grudzinski said Poland has made a “remarkable journey” since the collapse of communism under the first President Bush. He said his country has enjoyed bipartisan backing in the United States, recalling the Clinton administration’s support for Polish membership in NATO.

The current President Bush raised Polish-American relations to a “strategic partnership,” the ambassador said, noting that Poland has 2,500 troops in Iraq, making it the third-largest contingent behind the United States and Britain.

“We have made a remarkable journey from President Bush 41 to President Bush 43,” he said.

Mr. Grudzinski said he hopes that Mr. Bush in his second term will lift visa requirements on Polish tourists and continue to make Polish-American ties “one of the key branches of the trans-Atlantic relationship.”

The ambassador said the visa waiver would dramatically boost Polish tourism to the United States.

“We need to have Poles come to Florida to enjoy the sun,” he said.

Humility to Europe

The U.S. ambassador to the European Union, a President Bush supporter, yesterday promised a “renewed commitment” toward Europe, where many political leaders oppose U.S. foreign policy.

Ambassador Rockwell Anthony Schnabel, who spoke to reporters before Mr. Bush’s re-election was certain, said, “Regardless of who gets into the White House, you’re going to see a renewed commitment to reach out to Europe.”

Mr. Schnabel, who hosted a press breakfast at the U.S. Embassy in Brussels, added, “You’re going to see a United States that is interested in listening to your concerns, that is going to be dealing with you, coming from humility and coming from respect.”

Mr. Schnabel, who served as ambassador to Finland under President Reagan, is a former chairman of Trident Capital, a venture capital firm in Los Angeles, and one of Mr. Bush’s top fund-raisers in his 2000 election.

Hungary’s pledge

The Hungarian ambassador yesterday said his country will keeps its troops in Iraq through March.

“Hungary wants to make sure that its troops stay for the January elections and two months beyond that to help stabilize a democratic Iraq,” Ambassador Andras Simonyi said.

Hungary’s 300-strong transportation battalion was scheduled to be withdrawn by the end of December.

• Call Embassy Row at 202/636-3297, fax 202/832-7278 or e-mail jmorrison@washingtontimes.com

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