April 9, 2011 / 11:50 AM / 7 years ago

Polish PM chides Europe over Libya "hypocrisy"

* Tusk sceptical on Libya military intervention

* Cites Europe’s “hypocrisy” over human rights

WARSAW, April 9 (Reuters) - Poland refuses to join NATO’s military campaign against Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi because of Europe’s “hypocrisy” and inconsistency over human rights, Prime Minister Donald Tusk was quoted on Saturday as saying.

Tusk, whose country assumes the European Union’s rotating six-month presidency in July, said Europe risked creating an impression it only intervenes when oil supplies are at stake.

“Although there exists a need to defend civilians from a regime’s brutality, isn’t the Libyan case yet another example of European hypocrisy in view of the way Europe has behaved towards Gaddafi in recent years or even months?” Tusk told the Gazeta Wyborcza newspaper in an interview.

“That is one of the reasons for our restraint...If we want to defend people against dictators, reprisals, torture and prison, that principle must be universal and not invoked only when it is convenient, profitable or safe,” Tusk said.

Like Libya’s government, Syria, Yemen and Bahrain have sought to stamp out pro-democracy unrest by force but there is no talk of Western intervention to protect civilians there.

Poland, a usually staunch NATO ally that sent soldiers to Iraq and still has 2,600 troops in Afghanistan, has said no national or NATO security interests are at stake in Libya, taking a very cautious stance as has neighbouring Germany.

“Looking at Afghanistan and Iraq..., we will take decisions on military involvement elsewhere only when he have a 100 percent conviction that it is absolutely necessary,” said Tusk, who faces parliamentary elections in the autumn.

In the interview, he also reiterated Poland’s support for continuing generous EU subsidies for infrastructure in poorer member states against a British-led drive for budget savings.

Poland is the biggest beneficiary of the regional aid that makes up about a third of EU spending. Talks on the EU’s next multi-year budget are set to begin later this year under the Polish presidency of the 27-nation bloc.

Tusk reaffirmed Poland’s commitment to join the euro despite the euro zone’s current woes. He said Warsaw could meet all the membership criteria by 2015, but declined to name a target date for entry. (Writing by Gareth Jones, editing by Mark Heinrich)

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