QUESTION: I have a few questions about Poland.
MR TONER: Yes, sir.
QUESTION: There is a new government in Warsaw.
MR TONER: Hey Marcin, how are you?
QUESTION: Hey, how are you? (Laughter.)
MR TONER: Good.
QUESTION: So there is a new government in Warsaw and we have seen some considerable changes in Poland recently. So what is the State Department’s assessment of the current developments in Poland? And could you also comment on this new law which has been signed by the president of Poland?
MR TONER: Sure.
QUESTION: It’s a law about the constitution court.
MR TONER: Yeah. Aware of the law. Look, I think – Marcin, I think a system of checks and balances and judicial independence are crucial elements of constitutional democracy and the rule of law. The United States cares deeply about Poland, which is a fellow democracy and a valued NATO ally. And I think when we see these kinds of actions, it’s through that lens that we follow them, these kinds of developments, with great interest. We remain confident about the strength of Poland’s democracy and the ability of the Polish people to address these issues in accordance with the democratic norms and the rule of law in Poland.
QUESTION: Are you at all worried by those changes?
MR TONER: Again, I think that we recognize, as do many in Poland – and again, this is a fellow democracy and a NATO ally – that any democracy needs strong systems of checks and balances, needs judicial independence. These are critical, crucial elements of a constitutional democracy and establishing rule of law. So I mean, I think in that light we would – we’re going to watch these developments closely. That’s – I’ll leave it there.
QUESTION: Okay. Are you at all talking with the government in Poland?
MR TONER: Of course.
QUESTION: The reason I’m asking about this —
MR TONER: Yeah.
QUESTION: — is an editorial that was in The Washington Post a few days ago —
MR TONER: Yeah.
QUESTION: — and just let me quote a piece of it: “The Obama Administration should influence the government’s course and it should talk to leaders in Warsaw.” So are you planning trying to influence backchannel —
MR TONER: Sure.
QUESTION: — what’s – what are your actions here?
MR TONER: Sure. It’s a legitimate question. Obviously, we have a very close relationship with Poland. We have frank and candid exchanges with them on a variety of issues. But this is one of them. We have raised questions with the government about legislative actions that – with regard to the constitutional tribunal. And we’re going to continue to have these discussions with them. That’s part of our relationship with Poland; that’s part of our friendship between two democracies who frankly care deeply about the character of their democratic governments.
QUESTION: Okay. And the last —
MR TONER: Yeah, sure.
QUESTION: — question. Gazeta Wyborcza, a newspaper that you know very well —
MR TONER: Of course, very good.
QUESTION: — suggests that President Obama is delaying his meeting with the president of Poland, and also that it is not set for 100 percent that the 2016 NATO summit will take place in Warsaw as it was planned, that it may be moved to another country because of the developments in Poland.
MR TONER: I’ll take your second question first. NATO decided at the Wales summit, as you know, that its next summit would be held in Poland in 2016, and that decision stands. That was a NATO decision taken by consensus, as you know. And so I’d refer you to NATO for any further details. But as far as we are concerned, that decision would stand.
In terms of President Obama’s schedule and his intent to meet with the new Polish president, I can’t speak to his schedule. I would disregard any kind of allegations that he’s somehow avoiding a meeting. Again, Poland is a valued friend, ally. We have a close relationship with Poland and the Polish people. We are concerned – we care deeply about the character, the quality of Poland’s democracy. And this is a conversation that we feel we can have with the Polish people, with the Polish Government, and we’re going to continue to have it and raise our concerns.
QUESTION: Okay, thank you.
Więcej: U.S. Departament Of State