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Obama victory - what now for Europe?

PR dla Zagranicy
Peter Gentle 07.11.2012 14:00
Poland's foreign minister has said that he expects President Obama to be more active in the Middle East after his win in the US elections on Tuesday.

US President Barack Obama and his wife Michelle celebrate onstage with Vice President Joe Biden and his wife Jill Biden, at the event at McCormick Place in Chicago, Illinois, USA, 06 November 2012. Democratic President Obama defeated Republican candidate Mitt Romney in the US General election. EPA/SHAWN THEW

“Traditionally, second term presidents - especially from the Democratic Party – try to do more to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,” Foreign Minister Radek Sikorski told the RMF FM radio station this morning.

“Obama has already promised to establish a Palestinian state. One can expect to see more activity in this area,” he added, saying that he is yet to write and congratulate Barack Obama on his victory.

With Florida yet to declare, Obama won 303 electoral votes in the electoral college to Mitt Romney's 206.

The president needed 270 electoral votes for a second term.

Obama's Democrats also retained control of the Senate, though the Republicans maintain control in Congress.

President Obama received support of blacks, Latinos, woman and younger voters, exit polls indicate, with Mitt Romney taking votes from white males and older voters.

The exit polls also found that the Democratic candidate took 50 percent of the vote nationwide, to Romney's 48 percent.

As the results came in, President Obama, who became America's first black president in 2008, pledged to work with Republicans in Congress to get legislation through on the government's budget deficit and reform the immigration system.

"We are an American family and we rise and fall together as one nation," he told supporters during his victory speech in Chicago.

One piece of legislation Poland will be hoping to see - as promised in Obama's first term - is Poles being included in the US visa waiver scheme. Currently Poland is one of only three nations in the EU which requires visas to visit the United States.

US drifts away from Europe?

A former Polish ambassador to the US has said that Barack Obama's victory on Tuesday will see Europe continue to fall down the list of priorities in United States' foreign policy.


“The American presence in Europe is not over, but its level will be significantly lower than it was in the past,” Janusz Reiter, current director of Poland's Centre for International Relations told Polish Radio.

Reiter noted that Obama's foreign policy had “shifted in the direction of Asia,” and that “one must expect this trend to continue.”

“The willingness of Europe to participate in world politics at the side of America seems to be very small, and the willingness of Poland even smaller,” he said.

Former ambassador Reiter added that, based on the evidence of Obama's first four years, Poland's importance to the United States will continue to diminish.

“If this is the case. it means that our appeal to America will be correspondingly smaller. In this sense, the decision about the future of this partnership must be taken to a large extent from our, European side,” he said.

Reiter said that further American disengagement raised the question about how prepared Poland is to take responsibility for its own security.

Obama pulled out of a 2008 agreement made under George W. Bush's administration, concerning a US-backed missile defence system in Poland (although a smaller battery of Patriot missiles was installed in 2010).

However, in August this year, President Bronislaw Komorowski said that Poland should build its own missile defence system.

“The building of our own national defence capability is our chief duty,” Komorowski said. (pg/nh)

tags: US elections
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