Below is the text of Mr Major’s joint doorstep interview with the Polish Prime Minister, Mrs Hanna Suchocka, held in London on Wednesday 3rd March 1993.
Good afternoon! I have been delighted today to welcome the Prime Minister to Downing Street. It was not the first time we have met but we were able to carry our discussions a good deal further both bilaterally and in terms of Poland’s relationship with the European Community.
We had the opportunity this morning to look at a whole range of issues. I was delighted at the outcome of the Edinburgh Summit which agreed for the first time that in due course Poland will become a full member of the European Community. We discussed this morning some of the ways towards achieving that. The Prime Minister briefed me on the economic programme and I was able to congratulate her on her success in getting an extremely difficult budget through Parliament. I was also able to confirm this morning that we will be happy to continue our assistance to Poland through the Know-How Fund and through other areas of bilateral assistance. I was also able to confirm that we were content to transfer the money that was available to the Polish Stabilisation Fund to go directly to help the Polish banking system become established and that was an agreement we made this morning. I am happy to confirm it and I hope it will be satisfactory and assist the Polish banks firstly to establish themselves securely and secondly to prepare for private ownership in the future. This was a continuing illustration of an ever-growing and closer relationship with Poland. I look forward to our trade relationship continuing to grow. It has grown quite substantially. The Prime Minister will be addressing the CBI tomorrow and I have no doubt she will have investment and the growth of trade very high on her agenda for that occasion. She is a very welcome guest and I am delighted to invite her to say a few words to you.
Thank you, ladies and gentlemen! I would like to confirm the words that have been spoken by Prime Minister Major. The most important topic that we have discussed during the meeting this morning is the change to eventually Poland’s full membership of the EC as well as bilateral relations between the United Kingdom and the Polish Republic. We have also spoken about the utilisation of the Stabilisation Fund for the restructuring of the Polish banking system. In this regard, we have received the confirmation of Prime Minister Major’s Government that these funds can be used for the purpose.
Another topic that has been raised pertained to the access of Polish products to western markets. One of the conditions for that was the passing of the Polish budget. The budget has now been passed and we would very much count on the United Kingdom in moving Poland from a high-risk group in terms of credits for exports to a risk group that is more favourable. This would definitely be very conducive to the development of foreign investment in Poland. These talks pertaining to trade relations are very important for my country. I would also like to recall, using this opportunity, that Poland is the UK’s largest trade partner in central and eastern Europe.
QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
Prime Minister, was there talk about the calendar and specific conditions that Poland should meet on its way to becoming an EC member and will you be still promoting Poland during the Copenhagen meeting in June?
The answer to the second question is undoubtedly yes. We have made no secret for some time that we look forward to the day when Poland can become a full member of the European Community. That is why we promoted that particular course at Edinburgh, that is why we are keen to enhance the existing relationship between Poland and the Community, why we believe that there need to be a number of steps between now and full membership.
Full membership is a few years away because there is a great deal of development necessary for the Polish economy in the interests of Poland because Poland will be subjected to the full rigour and force of competition in the Community once she becomes a member.
The answer is clear: Yes, we want Poland to become a member; yes, we wish to assist Poland to become a member; and we hope we can take progressive steps towards that during the rest of this decade.
That is a matter that really needs to be discussed with the whole of the European Community and I think that is being discussed in the Community. It is not a matter that is settled yet. The problem does not especially lie in the United Kingdom, as you know.
[In Polish, but regarding credit guarantees].
Yes, we have discussed that. A final answer can come after completion of negotiations with the London Club and only upon the conclusion of those negotiations can we have a full response to the question of medium- and long-term credits.
Prime Minister Major, you assert that Poland is not really ready to be exposed to the rigours of the free market. On the other hand, I understand Polish diplomacy complains about not being given free access of their own goods to western markets. Isn’t this a bit contradictory?
I don’t think it really is contradictory when you look across the whole of the economic sector but I have some sympathy with the demand that the whole of Europe should open its markets more and the Prime Minister knows that is my view.
Prime Minister, could you expand on your view that pessimists are running down Britain, say who they are and respond to the Opposition who say it is about time you got in touch with what was going on in the real world where unemployment is [indistinct].
I set all this out this morning in a speech. There is nothing to add to that. It is perfectly clear in the speech.