WARSAW Deterring Russia by a stronger security policy that includes a greater NATO presence in Poland and "renovation" of the European Union are key tasks for Warsaw's foreign policy this year, the country's foreign minister said on Thursday.
Wary of any increased powers for Brussels, Poland has been lobbying for an overhaul of the EU's fundamental treaties to return some power to member states. On the transatlantic stage, U.S. President Donald Trump's warmer approach to Moscow has raised some concern in Warsaw.
The eurosceptic government of the Law and Justice party (PiS) appears however more cautious of late over EU matters, signalling it wants to improve ties with Germany and France that have been strained by questions of reform.
"The priority of this government is to repair the European Union, not to dismantle it," Foreign Minister Witold Waszczykowski told parliament.
"The renovation of the European Union...cannot rely on a renewal of the facade and a discussion of decorative details, but on a thorough assessment of the foundation on which the whole European structure is based."
Poland's security, however, is key to its foreign policy, Waszczykowski said, citing its eastern neighbour Russia as a top threat.
Warsaw and Moscow have been at loggerheads over a plane crash in Smolensk in 2010 that killed Poland's President Lech Kaczynski and 95 other people. A pro-Russian rebellion in the eastern territories of neighbouring Ukraine has further raised tensions.
"In recent years, we have found out once again that defence of principles and values is sometimes effective only when supported by force - not only moral force, but also by military force, the strength of alliances," Waszczykowski said.
Russia's reinforcement of its western military flank, its suspension of a treaty on cleaning up weapons-grade plutonium and deployment of nuclear-capable Iskander missiles in its European exclave of Kaliningrad, demand response, Waszczykowski said.
"The U.S. forces are becoming an increasingly significant factor in the security of Central Europe," Waszczykowski said. "In 2017, we will maintain our efforts to increase their presence."
Several thousand U.S. troops along with tanks and heavy equipment under a planned NATO operation moved to Poland in January.
(Writing by Lidia Kelly)