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France's Macron urges Poland to respect European values

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Kraków (Poland) (AFP)

French President Emmanuel Macron on Tuesday warned Poland against undermining European values during a visit aimed at mending ties with Warsaw as Brexit reshapes the European Union.

Controversial judicial reforms have set Poland's right-wing populist Law and Justice (PiS) government on a collision course with Brussels over rule of law violations and drawn concern from fellow EU members, including France.

While insisting that the EU must help Poland financially to wean itself off heavy dependence on coal, Macron insisted that Warsaw must first be willing to respect EU values and rules to benefit.

He was referring to the EU's new Green Deal, a one-trillion-euro ($1.1-trillion) plan to finance its goal of making the bloc carbon neutral by 2050.

An agreement by EU leaders in December to try to make the bloc carbon neutral by 2050 was undermined by Poland's rejection.

"Make no mistake! Poland can never make such a change (transition to low carbon economy) on its own, it can only do so through Europe, with Europe," Macron told students at the respected Jagellonian University in Poland's southern city of Krakow.

"Don't believe those who tell you: 'Europe is going to give us money with one hand to make our climate transition but it will let us make our own political choices. This isn't true!

"Europe is a block, a block of values, a block of texts, a block of ambitions," Macron said.

Macron urged Warsaw to "intensify" dialogue with Brussels to safeguard the rule of law as he began his first visit to Poland on Monday.

Macron said on Monday that he was seeking a "turning point" and "a new chapter" in strained ties with Poland, insisting that Brexit requires a new dynamic among the remaining members of the EU.

Focusing on defence, Macron urged "political dialogue" with Russia but assured the Poles that "France is neither pro-Russian nor anti-Russian, it is pro-European".

Polish President Andrzej Duda said Tuesday that Macron proposed a summit of the Weimar Triangle -- a platform grouping France, Germany and Poland -- on July 14 in Paris.

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