(Bloomberg) -- Polish President Andrzej Duda skipped a meeting with US investors on Monday, days after Washington criticized him over a new law that may undermine the democratic credibility of the country’s upcoming election.
Duda canceled his appearance with the American Chamber of Commerce in Poland just hours before the meeting, according to the organizers. He sent his chief of staff Pawel Szrot instead to read out a speech from the president, in Polish.
The development comes after a turbulent week of diplomacy between the US and Poland. Duda first signed into law legislation that Washington, along with the European Union, said could lead to abuse of power ahead of this year’s elections. Then — after the international outcry — he asked parliament to soften the rules.
Mark Brzezinski, the US ambassador to Warsaw, told investors at the event that the US and Poland are working “together on building a brighter future” but warned that this must include common values.
“I really want to emphasize this, that underpinning that must be a shared embrace, a shared American-Polish embrace, of values and democratic practice, including ensuring there is a level playing field and a context in which any transfer of power is peaceful, is orderly and respectful of the will of the people,” Brzezinski said in Warsaw.
Duda’s about-face last week sought to defuse Poland’s row with its main allies as the eastern NATO member has assumed a central role in efforts to support Ukraine. Szrot said the president couldn’t come to the event due to “urgent defense consultations” ahead of Tuesday’s meeting of the Bucharest Nine, a group of NATO nations in eastern Europe.
Critics said the new Polish law, which remains binding, could allow the ruling party to effectively put opposition leader Donald Tusk on trial just before the tightly contested election slated for October. The president’s actions fueled turnout at an anti-government march on Sunday, one of the biggest street protests since Poland overthrew communism in 1989.
--With assistance from Natalia Ojewska.
©2023 Bloomberg L.P.
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