VARIOUS: Poles say they are proud that one of their countrymen - ex-Polish Prime Minister Jerzy Buzek - has been...
- Title: VARIOUS: Poles say they are proud that one of their countrymen - ex-Polish Prime Minister Jerzy Buzek - has been elected President of the European Parliament
- Date: 15th July 2009
- Summary: BONN, GERMANY (FILE - FEBRUARY 1998) (REUTERS) BUZEK AND GERMAN CHANCELLOR HELMUT KOHL INSPECTING HONOUR GUARD KOHL AND BUZEK BUZEK GERMAN AND POLISH FLAG BUZEK AND KOHL SHAKING HANDS
- Reuters ID: LVA3Y3NJ4HTMA2YFQ9IQORNZ21FC
- Duration: 00:00:21
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- Topics: European Union
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- Story Text: The European Parliament elected ex-Polish Prime Minister Jerzy Buzek as its president on Tuesday (July 14), making him the first leader from a former Soviet bloc country to hold one of the top European Union posts.
69-year old Buzek won the parliament's overwhelming support at its first session since a June election at which his centre-right allies emerged as the strongest force but voters showed their discontent with EU leaders with a record-low turnout.
Although the post is largely ceremonial, his appointment is a symbolic victory for the new EU member states from eastern and central Europe which often complain their views are not heard by the 27-nation Union's traditional powers.
Speaking in Warsaw, the Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk said the election ended a "never mentioned" division between the new and old members of the Union.
"I'm very glad that a Pole has been recognised and promoted, I'm glad that his victory is a symbol proving a real integration between new and old Europe. Thanks to the choice of Jerzy Buzek and because a Pole became head of The European Parliament and thanks for the fact that a Pole is one of the most important people in the European Union, Poland will become stronger and will therefore have a much stronger position in the negotiations about other institutions," he added.
On the streets of Warsaw, ordinary Poles seemed equally proud of the Buzek being offered the post.
"I think that Jerzy Buzek did well as an MEP, he has been very much appreciated during his terms in office. During his time as President he will be able to achieve more especially as the European Parliament becomes more powerful," said civil servant, Marcin Kulinicz.
"Being in Strasbourg, I think that Buzek will feel the same as we feel. A Pole in the world. For Poles and for the world, it will be like this," added Zbigniew Pergion.
Business student, Agnieszka Dadura said she thought it would be good for Poland.
"It will allow us to promote ourselves a bit and it will show that we are not only quarrelling amongst ourselves and with others," she said.
Buzek won 555 of the votes cast, defeating leftist candidate Eva-Britt Svensson of Sweden, who won 89 votes. He will serve a term of 2-1/2 years under a deal among parliamentary groups which will allow a Socialist candidate to hold the post for the second half of the parliament's five-year mandate.
Buzek is the first leader from eastern Europe to head one of the EU's three big institutions -- the European Parliament, whose main function is to pass legislation, the executive European Commission and the Council of EU heads of government.
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- Embargoed:30th July 2009 13:00