WARSAW Poland's new deputy prime minister and economy minister promised on Tuesday to protect jobs as concerns rise about future growth in Central and Eastern Europe's largest economy.
Janusz Piechocinski, the leader of a junior partner in Poland's coalition government, took the posts after unexpectedly winning a party election in November that led to the resignation of his predecessor Waldemar Pawlak.
In his two decades in parliament, Piechocinski has established a reputation for hard work and as an expert on infrastructure, but critics say he has no experience of making important decisions.
At a joint press conference with Prime Minister Donald Tusk, Piechocinski reiterated his earlier pledge to keep the coalition with Tusk's Civic Platform party intact and promised to work to save jobs, particularly in industry.
"European economies that got rid of industry have not habituated themselves to the global market and their societies paid a big price for the crisis, so it is so important for us to protect jobs," Piechocinski said.
Poland could also draw on "huge reserves" of potential by promoting its goods and services outside the country's borders, he said.
Poland's economy has been a rare success in Europe in recent years, sustaining robust growth while its neighbours slumped.
But recent data showed growth slowed to 1.4 percent in the third quarter, the lowest rate in three years, and forecasts suggest it will continue to be subdued in 2013.
(Writing by Maciej Onoszko; Editing by Catherine Evans)