Author: Izabela Leszczyńska
Source: Dziennik daily
Translation from Polish for this blog: MoPoPressReview
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The government wants, as Poland’s prime minister Donald Tusk pledged in his Parliament speech, to have Polish soldiers withdrawn from Iraq by October 2008. However there are signs that the pledge might be implemented sooner.
Poland was to send two more military contingents to Iraq, however as we found out yesterday, this figure will be reduced to just one. Even though the government has presented the president with a motion to extend the Iraq mission to November 31st 2008.
‘September and November as only for contingency arrangements should the withdrawal prolong’ – explains Vice-Admiral Tomasz Mathea, deputy Chief of Staff.
Major Dariusz Kacperczyk, from the Operations Headquaters, adds that between March and April Iraqi 8th division will overtake the responsibility for the zone controlled by the Polish military.
Preparations for the come back are already in full swing. Our base in Divaniya is in the process of stock-taking of the equipement gathered in Iraq through the last five years. The ninth contingent is checking everything: the number of cars, helicopters, containers. The Support Inspectorate, which has alredy prepared the plan of withdrawal, determined 100 tons of equipment will need to be transported. Two ships will be needed for this purpose.How does the government justify its decision? ‘The British are reducing their mission to 2.5 thousand soldiers, AMericans plan to reduce theirs from 160 thousand to 132 thousand, Australia also plans reductions. Why would we still have our soldiers in Iraq, since 74% of Poles want them out?’ – asks Bogdan Klich, Defence Minister.
The Iraqi are alarmed. Iraq’s Ambassador in Warsaw Walid H. Shiltagh announced that the government in Baghdad is going to request for the mission to be extended. ‘The Iraqi government considers this a last request for extending the mission of the multinational force’ -says the ambassador. The diplomat already talked about this with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and he is soon going to meet with the Ministry of Defence.
President Lech Kaczyński is also against the withdrawal. ‘If president does not support this motion, he risks that the mission will terminate abruptly with the end of 2007, as the current mandate is in force until then’ – replies Bogdan Klich.
The President’s Office hasn’t yet issued a statement. ‘It’s too early’ – We heard at the president’s press bureau.
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