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WARSAW: Donald Tusk on Tuesday urged firm support for war-torn Ukraine and called for a stronger EU, as the Polish premier-designate previewed his priorities ahead of lawmakers’ vote on his proposed government.

The veteran politician and former EU chief’s administration is expected to garner enough backing in parliament to bring to a close eight years of right-wing populist rule.

The Tusk cabinet could be sworn in Wednesday, allowing him to travel to Brussels for an EU summit on Thursday and Friday as the new prime minister.

His address to lawmakers made clear that his government would strive to restore Poland’s credibility in the EU and give it an important voice amid the war in neighbouring Ukraine.

“We will call loud and clear for full mobilisation on the part of the free world, the West in support of Ukraine in this war. There is no alternative,” he said.

He also promised to resolve the month-long blockage at the Ukraine border by Polish hauliers, who are demanding the reintroduction of entry permits for their Ukrainian competitors.

Zelensky makes plea for US aid as Russia claims advances

The show of support for Ukraine appeared to be mutual as its President Volodymyr Zelensky immediately tweeted his “congratulations” Monday after Tusk was tapped as premier.

Speaking to the lower house of parliament – which is controlled by his multi-party alliance – Tusk also expressed a vote of confidence in the European Union.

‘Stronger Europe’

“We are all the stronger, all the more sovereign when not only Poland is stronger but also the European Union,” Tusk told lawmakers.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen also congratulated him on Monday, tweeting: “I look forward to working with you.”

“Your experience and strong commitment to our European values will be precious in forging a stronger Europe,” she added on X.

Tusk, who previously served as prime minister from 2007 to 2014 and was president of the European Council from 2014 to 2019, has promised to unblock billions of euros in EU aid that have been frozen because of long-standing tensions between Brussels and the outgoing government.

Tusk also presented his roster of ministers. The parliament is due to weigh in on the proposed cabinet later Tuesday.

The confidence vote comes on the heels of the outgoing conservatives’ failure to form a government of their own for lack of viable coalition partners.

The right-wing Law and Justice (PiS) party won the most seats in October’s general election but failed to win a majority.

Zelensky arrives in US to plead for continued Ukraine war aid

Still, PiS prime minister Mateusz Morawiecki was given the first crack at forming a new government and his proposed cabinet failed to muster enough backing in parliament Monday.

While Tusk’s Civic Coalition came second in the ballot, it secured a majority by joining up with two smaller pro-EU opposition political groups, the Third Way and Left.

‘Right all of the wrongs’

Describing the right-wing administration as years of “darkness”, Tusk said Monday that his government would work to “right all of the wrongs”.

His arch-nemesis, PiS leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski, fired back by accusing Tusk of being a “German agent” and rued “the end of democracy”.

Freedom hero and Nobel Prize winner Lech Walesa – known for despising the PiS – said Monday he was “happy that Poland is back on the path of development”.

Expectations for the new government are running high but the populists will remain very influential and have appointed allies to key posts during their time in power.

The next government will face daily battles with PiS which “will continue to fight”, Jaroslaw Kuisz, a political analyst, told AFP. “There won’t be any miracles.”

Controversial judicial reforms and appointments, which the EU said undermined democratic values, were at the heart of tensions between PiS ministers and Brussels.

PiS still has allies in the presidency, the central bank and the supreme court, as well as in several important judicial and financial state institutions.

Polish President Andrzej Duda, an ally of the outgoing government, is due to step down ahead of a presidential election in 2025 but he could use blocking tactics between now and then, vetoing legislation.

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