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PM announces new embassy in Warsaw

PM announces new embassy in Warsaw

Prime Minister Helen Clark announced today that New Zealand will open a new embassy in Poland next year.

Helen Clark made the announcement during her visit to Brussels. She said that work on establishing the new embassy was beginning immediately so that it can open in 2004.

“The European Union is entering a new era that presents New Zealand with new opportunities and challenges.

“Our relations with the existing 15 members are excellent. Now as the European Union enlarges to a membership of 25, we will need to work harder to have our voice heard, and to safeguard and promote New Zealand’s diplomatic and economic interests.

“Currently, New Zealand has no embassy in any of the ten countries which are scheduled to join the EU in May next year.

“Many of those countries have been increasing their contact with New Zealand over recent years, and we with them. There has been a steady stream of high level visits in both directions. For example, Trade Minister Jim Sutton is travelling to Hungary, the Czech Republic, and Poland shortly with a trade delegation.

“The government has decided that New Zealand needs to have a permanent diplomatic presence in Central Europe, and that an embassy in Warsaw will be opened next year. Poland can be expected to carry significant political and economic weight in EU decision-making on issues of importance to New Zealand.

“Diplomatic representation in Poland will also build on existing cultural and heritage links between our two countries. New Zealanders and Poles fought together in Europe during World War II, and next year will be the sixtieth anniversary of the arrival in New Zealand of 830 Polish orphans.”

Poland has had diplomatic representation in Wellington since 1973, primarily as a trade and consular office. The Polish Ambassador is resident in Canberra. Currently, the New Zealand embassy in Berlin is accredited to Warsaw.

“The opening of a New Zealand embassy in Warsaw will be a significant step in strengthening New Zealand’s relations with the countries of Central Europe at a time when developments in Europe and elsewhere call for closer ties,” Helen Clark said.

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