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Entries in Poland (4)

Tuesday
Jul312012

Romney Spokesman Spars with Reporters at Polish Holy Site

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(WARSAW, Poland) -- Reporters traveling with Mitt Romney on his six-day foreign trip were reprimanded by a spokesman Tuesday for asking the candidate questions after several days passed without a press conference.

As Romney left the site of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Warsaw, Poland, and walked towards his motorcade parked in Pilsudski Square, reporters began shouting questions from behind a rope line where campaign staffers had told them to stay behind, prompting a Romney spokesman to tell a group of reporters, “kiss my a**” and “shove it.”

“Governor Romney, are you concerned about some of the mishaps of your trip,” one CNN reporter yelled as Romney wrapped up his visit to the historical site.

“Governor Romney do you have a statement for the Palestinians?” a New York Times reporter shouted.

“What about your gaffes?” yelled a Washington Post reporter, referring to a number of misspeaks the candidate has made during his trip, including one in which he said there were some things “disconcerting” leading up to the London Olympics, drawing ire from the British press, and another that suggested culture was to blame for the difference in economic success in Israel and Palestinian regions.  The Romney campaign has called the reports on the candidate’s remarks about Palestine as a “gross mischaracterization.”

Traveling press secretary Rick Gorka told reporters answering questions to “show some respect.”

“We haven’t had another chance to ask a question,” one reporter noted to Gorka.

Romney last took questions, though just three of them, from the traveling press corps on Thursday in London.  Romney also did not address the press flying with him on any of the three charter flights, two of which lasted over four hours.  Romney has conducted several television interviews during the trip.

“Kiss my a**.  This is a holy site for the Polish people.  Show some respect,” said Gorka.

Another journalist was told by Gorka to “shove it.”

Gorka later called both reporters to apologize for his remarks, telling one that he was “inappropriate.”

ABC News reached out to Gorka for an additional comment but did not immediately receive a response.

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Jul232012

Romney to Embark on First Foreign Trip of Candidacy

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Mitt Romney will display his foreign policy prowess this week when he embarks on the first foreign trip of his candidacy, making stops in the United Kingdom, Israel and Poland on a six-day trip his staff describes as a learning opportunity, rather than an effort to define his foreign policy.

"There are a number of challenges the world faces today, and it's an opportunity for [Romney] to visit a country that each have a strong and important relationship with the United States," said policy director Lanhee Chen, adding that the trip will serve as a chance for Romney "to demonstrate a clear a resolute stand with nations that share our values and possess the fortitude to defend those values in the name of a more peaceful world."

"We don't anticipate that this is an opportunity for the governor to make any specific policy pronouncements," said Chen, who said specifics on his foreign policy would be outlined in more detail during a speech to the Veterans of Foreign Wars in Reno, Nev., on the eve of the trip overseas.  "He is really abroad to learn and to listen.  There will be other opportunities for the governor to articulate additional policy prescriptions and foreign policy."

While much of Romney's itinerary is already being compared with that of then-candidate Barack Obama, the president will not be a focal point of Romney's trip, Chen said, clarifying that contrast between the president's foreign policies and Romney's will be "kept here in the states."

Here's a look at how Romney will spend his time overseas:

First stop: London

The highlight of Romney's stop in the United Kingdom will be attending the Olympic Opening Ceremonies on Friday.  Romney, who ran the Salt Lake City Olympics in 2002, will also attend other Olympic events while in London with his wife, Ann, who will remain at the games to watch her dressage horse compete.

But the couple of days Romney spends in London -- the candidate arrives there on Wednesday -- will also be filled with a series of meetings with British officials, including Prime Minister David Cameron, Chancellor of Exchequer George Osborne and foreign Secretary William Hague.  He will also meet with the leader of the opposition Labor Party, Ed Milliband, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, and former Prime Minister Tony Blair.

Second stop: Israel

The second leg of Romney's trip will begin Saturday, when the candidate arrives in Israel, his fourth trip to the Middle Eastern country.  The highlight of this portion of the trip is a major speech in Jerusalem, which aides say will "project Gov. Romney's strong view that America needs to stand by its allies, particularly allies that are under siege like Israel, particularly democratic allies who have such a shared history and shared values with America."

In addition to a number of public events in Israel, Romney will meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, with whom he has a long personal history, as well as President Shimon Peres.  Meetings with Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad and the U.S. Ambassador to Israel Daniel Shapiro are also scheduled.

Third stop: Poland

Romney's third and final stop of the trip comes at the invitation of former Polish President Lech Walesa.  The meeting between Romney and Walesa will take place in Gdansk, before the candidate moves to Warsaw for more meetings and another keynote speech.  

Romney is also expected to visit historical sites throughout Poland. He will also meet with the leadership of the Polish government, including President Bronislaw Komorowski, Prime Minister Donald Tusk and Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
May292012

President Obama Causes Outrage with Reference to ‘Polish Death Camp’

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza(WASHINGTON) -- Poles and Polish-Americans expressed outrage Tuesday at President Obama’s reference earlier to “a Polish death camp,” as opposed to a Nazi death camp in German-occupied Poland.

“The White House will apologize for this outrageous error,” Foreign Minister Radek Sikorski tweeted.  Sikorski said that Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk “will make a statement in the morning. It’s a pity that this important ceremony was upstaged by ignorance and incompetence.”

The president had been trying to honor a famous Pole, awarding a Presidential Medal of Freedom to Jan Karski, a resistance fighter who sneaked behind enemy lines to bear witness to the atrocities being committed against Jews. President Obama referred to him being smuggled “into the Warsaw ghetto and a Polish death camp to see for himself.”

Sikorski also Tuesday night tweeted a link to an Economist story noting that “few things annoy Poles more than being blamed for the crimes committed by the Nazi occupiers of their homeland. For many years, Polish media, diplomats and politicians have tried to persuade outsiders to stop using the phrase ‘Polish death camps’ as a shorthand description of Auschwitz and other exemplars of Nazi brutality and mass murder. Unfortunately this seems to have escaped Barack Obama’s staff seem not to have noticed this.”

National Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor said in a statement, “The President was referring to Nazi death camps operated in Poland. The President has demonstrated in word and deed his rock-solid commitment to our close alliance with Poland.”

The White House also noted that the president had noted the bravery of Poles during World War II -- in January 2010 in a video he sent to the 65th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, when he referred to “those who tried to save” Jews, “Polish and Hungarian, French and Dutch, Roma and Russian, straight and gay, and so many others. .. Auschwitz also tells another story -- of man’s capacity for good. The small acts of compassion -- the sharing of some bread that kept a child alive. The great acts of resistance that blew up the crematorium and tried to stop the slaughter. The Polish Rescuers and those who earned their place forever in the Righteous Among the Nations.”

It seems likely that a more formal apology will need to be issued.

Alex Storozynski, the president of the Kosciuszko Foundation, lauded the president earlier in the day for recognizing Karski, but now says “Karski would have cringed if he heard this. … So far, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, the Associated Press and others have changed their stylebooks to ban the use of this phrase. Now, the Obama White House must do the same. President Obama’s remarks are already being called ‘scandalous’ by media outlets in Poland. Obama was seen reading this phrase off a teleprompter. The president must acknowledge his mistake and apologize for it. He must do it for Karski and the other Poles that risked their lives trying to stop the Holocaust.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Saturday
May282011

President Obama Assails Belarus and “Europe’s Last Dictator”

ABC NewsWARSAW, Poland -- After meeting with Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk Saturday in Warsaw, President Obama continued to criticize the authoritarian government of Belarus, calling out President Aleksandr Lukashenko by name.

The comments came one day after the U.S. State Department expanded sanctions against Lukashenko, often called “Europe’s last dictator.”

“President Lukashenko has shown a total disregard for democratic values, the rule of law, and the human rights of his own people,” President Obama said. “And his brutal crackdown included the conviction and sentencing of presidential candidates who challenged him in the presidential election, and the repression and imprisonment of members of the free press, including one of the Polish press.”

The Obama administration announced asset freezes and travel restrictions against Lukashenko and others in January. On Friday the president said in a statement that “ the U.S. Government will pursue new sanctions against Belarusian state-owned enterprises.”

Lukashenko recently jailed political opponents for having organized mass protests after the December 19 presidential elections, widely viewed as a sham.  Lukashenko was “re-elected” with almost 80% of the vote. President Obama said the trials of Vladimir Neklyaev, Vitaly Rymashevsky, Andrei Sannikov and Dmitry Uss ”were clearly politically motivated and failed to meet even the most minimal standards required of a fair and independent judiciary.”

After meeting with Polish President Bronislaw Komorowski earlier today, he said “Belarus is backsliding. The kind of repressive actions we’re seeing in Belarus can end up having a negative impact on the region as a whole, and that makes us less safe and makes us less secure.”

Since the most recent crackdown began, the governments of the US and Belarus have closely coordinated, President Obama said.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







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