With War in Ukraine on Its Border, Poland Wants to Be Among the Countries Setting Europe's Agenda

WARSAW, Poland (AP) -- Poland's Foreign Minister Radek Sikorski told parliament on Thursday that the government wants to return to the group of countries which sets the agenda of the European Union, laying out the government's vision at a historically crucial moment with war across the border in Ukraine.

He warned that a Russian attack on NATO would end in defeat for Moscow, but NATO must increase its defenses.

Ahead of the speech, the foreign ministry said Sikorski's vision was closely aligned with that of French President Emmanuel Macron, who was also laying out his ambitions for Europe to be a more assertive global power in a speech on Thursday. Senior Polish officials have welcomed Macron's outspoken support for Ukraine but also want Paris to increase its deliveries of military aid.

Under President Vladimir Putin, Russia has waged a hybrid war against Poland, including with disinformation, Sikorski charged. He said Russia was lying when it falsely claimed that Poland seeks to annex parts of Western Ukraine around the city of Lviv that once belonged to Poland.

Speaking in Ukrainian, he said: "Lviv is Ukraine."

Sikorski's speech was devoted to describing the new direction of the government of Prime Minister Donald Tusk, which took office in December.

Sikorski sought to explain how Poland's priorities changed after Tusk's government replaced a national conservative party, led by the Law and Justice party, in respect to rule of law and international relations.

Among those attending the speech was President Andrzej Duda, who is aligned with Law and Justice, as well as members of the diplomatic corps in Warsaw who listened to the speech from the parliament's gallery.

The government is also asserting its right to define Poland's international policies as Duda has recently been acting against its wishes. Duda recently met with presumptive Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump and expressed hopes for hosting NATO nuclear weapons.

Law and Justice led Poland from 2015 to 2023, and while it stressed ties with the United States, it had a conflicted stance toward the 27-member EU and in particular toward Germany, which invaded and occupied Poland during World War II.

Sikorski stressed the importance of friendship with Germany, saying that the period of confrontation under the previous government had ended.

"Differences of opinion, however, do not mean that we are doomed to eternal conflict. Germany is our democratic neighbor, our largest trading partner, an important European actor, and a key ally in NATO. Warsaw and Berlin need each other," he said.

Sikorski argued that Poland's development and security should be based both on trans-Atlantic cooperation and on European integration, and that it is also ready to take responsibility for global challenges.

Sikorski's speech was directed at both the world and the domestic audience in the nation of 38 million people located along a geopolitical fault line.

Poland, a member of NATO and the European Union, is on the eastern flank of both and shares borders with Russia and Belarus in addition to Ukraine. It is a key hub for Western weapons going to Ukraine.