Poland's newly elected Prime Minister Donald Tusk, center, is congratulated by lawmakers after his government passed a vote of confidence in parliament in Warsaw, Poland, Tuesday, Dec. 12, 2023. AP

WARSAW, Poland – Poland's newly elected Prime Minister Donald Tusk pledged Tuesday that his government will demand that the West continue to help neighboring Ukraine and pledged that Warsaw would be a stable NATO ally and a leader in Europe .

Tusk's government later won a vote of confidence in parliament 248-201, but the vote was delayed when a far-right lawmaker, Grzegorz Braun, grabbed a fire extinguisher and extinguished candles on a menorah during a Hanukkah celebration. Tusk and others denounced the incident as an embarrassment.

In his maiden speech to Parliament, Tusk called on Poland's turbulent political class to unite, saying divisions cannot be allowed as Russia wages a war of aggression across the border, a conflict many fear could spread if Moscow prevails. .

“Poland's task, the task of the new government, but also the task of all of us, is to loudly demand the total determination of the entire Western community to help Ukraine in this war. I will do this from day one,” Tusk said in a session attended by the Ukrainian ambassador and former Polish presidents, including anti-communist freedom fighter Lech Walesa.

Tusk expressed his exasperation that Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy must continue to urge world leaders to continue supporting Kiev's fight in a war that has killed or maimed tens of thousands of Ukrainians. As another winter approaches, the allies grow weary. Even US funds are in doubt.

“I can no longer listen to some politicians in Europe and other Western countries who say they are tired of the situation in Ukraine,” Tusk said. “They say to President Zelenskyy’s face that they have no more strength, that they are exhausted.”

Tusk's challenges include restoring democratic standards in Poland, working to free up European Union funding that was frozen due to his predecessors' democratic backsliding, and seeking to manage the migration that is causing political disruption in Europe.

A centrist leader who was prime minister between 2007 and 2014, Tusk is the head of a broad coalition of parties that won elections in October and has pledged to work together under his leadership to restore democratic standards and improve ties with allies.

Tusk's speech came a day after lawmakers chose him as prime minister after rejecting former prime minister Mateusz Morawiecki of the Law and Justice party. Tusk also introduced his government ministers.

Duda, an ally of the previous government, delayed the transition of power as long as possible. He was visiting Switzerland and did not attend Tusk's speech. He is expected to be sworn in at Tusk and his office on Wednesday morning.

Tusk, 67, promised to restore foreign ties strained by the Law and Justice-led government, which has feuded even with allies such as Germany and Ukraine and was at loggerheads with the EU over legal changes that have eroded the country's independence. Judicial power.

Tusk's Cabinet includes a former foreign minister, Radek Sikorski, who takes on that role again. Adam Bodnar, a respected human rights lawyer and former ombudsman, was chosen as justice minister.

In his speech, Tusk stressed that his country on NATO's eastern flank would honor its obligations as a Western ally.

“Poland is and will be a key, strong and sovereign link in NATO, and Poland will be a loyal and stable ally of the United States, confident in its strength and importance,” said Tusk.

White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan congratulated Tusk in a post on X, formerly Twitter.

President Joe Biden “looks forward to continuing our work together as close allies. We value Poland’s partnership on many issues – support for Ukraine, shared democratic values, energy – to name a few,” Sullivan wrote.

Tusk also said that Poland would be stronger if it were a constructive leader in the EU, contradicting his predecessors' argument that the 27-nation bloc threatened Poland's national sovereignty. Tusk served as president of the European Council between 2014 and 2019 and has strong connections in Brussels, the bloc's capital. He will travel there for an EU summit this week, his first trip abroad as prime minister.

Tusk also described migration as an issue that requires international cooperation, noting that even the US has difficulty managing its border situation alone.

“You can really respect another person, you can respect other religions, you can respect other races and at the same time be aware of the great threat that this turmoil poses to Europe and the entire world,” he said. “There is a great threat of uncontrolled migration of people caused by conflict, war, poverty, hunger and climate change.”

On domestic issues, Tusk pledged to continue popular social policies introduced by Law and Justice, including cash payments to families with children, to pursue wise financial policies and to protect the rights of women and the LGBTQ+ community.

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He said his administration would end the practice of mass logging in forests and national forests, which he called “our sacred national resource, not a lumber mill.”