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EU’s Tusk rejects Polish criticism over new term


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(From L) Maltese Prime minister Joseph Muscat, President of Council Donald Tusk and Vice-President for Euro and Social Dialogue Valdis Dombrovskis give a press conference after the Tripartite Social Summit meeting on the eve of European Summit meeting at the EU headquarters in Brussels on February 08, 2017.

EU President Donald Tusk on Wednesday rejected charges from Poland’s rightwing government that he has sought to undermine it, on the eve of a vote on his leadership.

EU leaders meeting Thursday in Brussels are widely expected to reappoint Tusk — a former Polish premier — as head of the European Council despite sharp exchanges with Warsaw, which claims he has interfered in domestic politics and acted as a German stooge.

“I am not the one responsible (for the) clashes,” Tusk told reporters when asked about the vote on giving him another two-and-half-year term.

“I am, and I should be also in the future, impartial and politically neutral for all 28 member states,” he said.

“I’m not here to assess my term of course, it’s for the leaders tomorrow … (but) I am ready for this judgement,” he added.

Earlier Wednesday, a senior German official said Tusk had “overwhelming support” and was fully expected to be given another term in office.

Warsaw’s eurosceptic and rightwing government has a history of bad blood with the centrist Tusk and last week proposed MEP Jacek Saryusz-Wolski as a counter-candidate.

On Wednesday, Polish Prime Minister Beata Szydlo told her European Union peers that Tusk as Council president had “brutally violated” the rule of “political neutrality” by becoming involved in domestic political disputes.

The ruling party’s powerful leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski said earlier this week that Tusk was “Germany’s candidate” for the EU presidency.

Since winning power in 2015 elections, Poland’s rightwing Law and Justice (PiS) government has pushed through a string of controversial reforms that have triggered mass protests at home and an EU threat of sanctions over rule-of-law violations.

Kaczynski has also accused Tusk of “moral responsibility” for the death of his brother Lech, then president, in an air crash in Russia in 2010. Tusk was prime minister at the time.

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