Poland’s foreign ministry recalls its ambassador to NATO against President Duda’s wishes

The Polish foreign ministry has recalled the country’s ambassador to NATO without President Duda's consent, and conservatives have accused the Tusk government of weakening the country’s position ahead of a crucial NATO summit in Washington

Radoslaw Sikorski, Poland's foreign minister, right, shakes hands with Poland's President Andrzej Duda during the swearing-in ceremony at the presidential palace in Warsaw, Poland, Wednesday, Dec. 13, 2023. (AP Photo/Czarek Sokolowski)
By Grzegorz Adamczyk
4 Min Read

Poland’s Foreign Minister Radosław Sikorski has decided to effectively fire Poland’s ambassador to NATO, Tomasz Szatkowski, and some other ambassadors without the consent of President Andrzej Duda.

The foreign ministry spokesman Paweł Wroński confirmed that Szatkowski had been asked to return to Poland as the ministry considers his mission to have expired on May 31. 

Presidential aide, Mieszko Pawlak, told reporters that Szatkowski remains in post and that President Duda had no intention of recalling him. He called the ministry’s behavior “absurd.”

The latest move comes off the back of an announcement by Sikorski in March when he informed that over 50 ambassadors would be completing their missions, but Polish convention stipulates that an ambassador is recalled and nominated by the head of state. Sources close to the president revealed Duda would refuse to remove Poland’s ambassador to NATO in the months leading up to July’s NATO summit in Washington.  

They also claimed that there were no attempts on the part of the government to reach a consensus over the matter, simply producing its own candidate for the post of ambassador to NATO and expecting the president to comply.

The government’s candidate to replace Szatkowski is Jacek Najder, who was the ambassador to NATO in the lifetime of the last Tusk government from 2011-2016. Najder was deputy foreign minister in the days of Poland’s enthusiastic support for President Obama’s reset with Russia. 

President Duda has gone on record to say that he will not recall Ambassador Tomasz Szatkowski just weeks ahead of the NATO summit in July, as this would disrupt preparations for the summit. Duda’s senior aide, Wojciech Kolarski, has said that foreign relations matters should not be used in domestic disputes between political parties and expressed outrage that Interior Minister Tomasz Siemoniak had cast aspersions on Szatkowski’s character by suggesting the secret services had information on the ambassador that compromised his position. 

Szymon Szynkowski vel Sęk, the former foreign minister in the conservative Law and Justice (PiS) government, told portal wPolityce.pl that “all politicians and diplomats from NATO states who I have spoken to in the last few days are shaking their heads and asking what on earth is happening.”

He believes that the Tusk government’s actions will weaken Poland’s international position in the middle of a difficult international situation. Szynkowski vel Sęk fears that the government’s decision will hinder preparations for the NATO summit because most of the preparatory work is done in the weeks leading up to the summit and not on the day of the summit.

“Weakening the mandate of the person who is meant to be doing the negotiating seems a curious way of protecting Poland’s security,” argued the former minister, adding that only Poland’s enemies could be satisfied with such an outcome.  

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