Britain, Poland sign defence treaty ahead of Brexit

Warsaw (AFP) –


Poland and Britain signed a new defence treaty on Thursday as Prime Minister Theresa May sought to deepen ties with Warsaw ahead of her country's exit from the EU by March 2019.

"Our defence and security cooperation is already strong, but we have gone even further today in signing this landmark joint UK-Poland treaty on defence and security cooperation," May said at a joint press conference with counterpart Mateusz Morawiecki.

"It is only the second such treaty we have signed with a European Union country," May said, adding that "there could be no clearer expression of the closeness of the UK's relationship with Poland."

May said the new deal will cover training, information sharing and defence cooperation.

The countries are NATO allies and British troops are stationed in Poland as part of the Western defence alliance's bid to reinforce its eastern front and deter a more assertive Russia.

May said the two sides also agreed to bolster "cooperation to counter Russian disinformation in the region including through new joint strategic information projects."

"We are both deeply concerned by Russia's attempts to weaponise information. The Kremlin is seeking to undermine the international rules-based system, and it will not succeed."

May also announced the creation of a new UK-Poland business council, which she called "the first of its kind for the UK in Europe."

"The forum will be business-led and will work to identify any remaining barriers to bilateral trade as we prepare to leave the EU," May said.

She said that she wanted to assure the over one million Polish citizens in Britain that "they are a strong part" of British society "and we want them to stay."

Morawiecki, however, said that he wanted those Polish migrants to return to bolster a weak labour market.

Hundreds of thousands of Poles flocked to Britain in search of a better life after Warsaw's 2004 entry into the European Union.