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Poland's antigay
prime minister tries to improve ties with E.U.

Poland's antigay
prime minister tries to improve ties with E.U.

Poland's new prime minister travels to Brussels on Wednesday on his first official foreign visit, aimed at improving ties with the European Union that have been strained by Warsaw's stance on issues such as gay rights and the death penalty. Jaroslaw Kaczynski, the identical twin brother of President Lech Kaczynski, chose Brussels for his first foreign trip to underline the importance he places on ties with the bloc as Warsaw struggles with an image problem in Western Europe, Foreign Minister Anna Fotyga said Tuesday.

"I admit that there are some very serious aspects to Poland's negative image," Fotyga told foreign correspondents. Jaroslaw and Lech Kaczynski have made no secret of their strong opposition to gay rights in Poland.

Fotyga said Jaroslaw Kaczynski would meet with European Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso, E.U. foreign policy chief Javier Solana, and European Parliament president Josep Borrell during the one-day trip. The goal is for them "to get to know each other and to add a personal touch to policy," Fotyga said.

She added that she did not expect any immediate breakthrough on the E.U.'s stalled constitution or any other "institutional changes," noting that the bloc is "still in a period of reflection."

A string of contentious issues has emerged between Brussels and Warsaw since the Kaczynskis' conservative Law and Justice Party won parliamentary elections last fall. Lech Kaczynski won the presidency weeks later. His governing coalition includes populists and ultraconservative Catholics whose worldview often stands in marked contrast to the mainstream in Western Europe.

Leading members of the right-wing League of Polish Families, a junior party, have spoken out against homosexuality. A recent European parliament resolution warned of rising intolerance in Poland. (AP)

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