Photo: Czarek Sokolowski, AP
WARSAW, Poland (AP) — Poland’s president on Wednesday swore in two new ministers to key posts in the conservative government: a foreign minister at a time of crisis in neighboring Belarus and a health minister as COVID-19 infections are rising.
Andrzej Duda appointed Zbigniew Rau, the head of the parliamentary foreign affairs committee, as foreign minister, and Adam Niedzielski, former head of the national health system, as health minister.
In a ceremony, Duda thanked them for taking up the “these extremely important offices in difficult times.”
Both Rau and Niedzielski were named last week by Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki to replace ministers who resigned.
Rau, 65, is a law professor and a theorist of liberalism. He holds conservative views on social issues consistent with those of the government led by the Law and Justice party.
He takes over from Jacek Czaputowicz, a conservative with a more moderate image whose resignation last week with a crisis next door in Belarus triggered some criticism from opposition politicians.
Rau’s room for diplomatic maneuver is constrained as Polish-U.S. relations are mostly guided by Duda, while European Union issues are handled in Morawiecki’s office.
Poland’s government has voiced its support for the protesters who are seeking democratic change in Belarus following a presidential election on Aug. 9 which President Alexander Lukashenko claims to have won with 80% of the vote, but which many Belarusians say was rigged.
Ahead of that election, Rau said in an interview with the Rzeczpospolita daily that it was up to Belarusians to decide their own fate but that Poles could share their experiences with transitioning from an authoritarian system to democracy.
“As a neighbor, we have the right to express the expectation that it will be a democratic, harmoniously developing country,” Rau told the newspaper.
After he was named last week by Morawiecki, opposition politicians and liberal media outlets criticized remarks Rau made last year denouncing the LGBT movement.
He said on Facebook that Western Europe, following the sexual revolution of the 1960s, was heading toward legalizing pedophilia, sex with animals, abortion on demand and euthanasia of the sick, weak and the old.