Polish president swears in new government

Poland's president on Monday swore in the government of incoming Prime Minister Ewa Kopacz, calling on her to prepare the country for a debate on eurozone membership.

Warsaw: Poland's president on Monday swore in the government of incoming Prime Minister Ewa Kopacz, calling on her to prepare the country for a debate on eurozone membership.

Kopacz took over this month as head of government from Donald Tusk, who resigned after he was tapped to become the next European Council chief in December.

President Bronislaw Komorowski said one of the tasks facing the new government would be "to prepare Poland for the inevitable debate on strengthening our place in an integrating Europe.

"What I mean is a discussion, and then a possible decision, on eurozone membership," he said at the swearing-in ceremony.

Poland is obliged to join the single currency bloc as part of its 2004 European Union entry deal but has dragged its feet on the move, which would require it to amend its constitution.

Referring to Poland's victory in the men's volleyball world championship final over Brazil yesterday, Komorowski said: "I thought it was a good sign. ... And I wish the same success, through teamwork, to the Kopacz government and to us all."

The reshuffled cabinet of 16 ministers includes six women, the largest number since the fall of communism in 1989, and five new ministers.

Radoslaw Sikorski was notably replaced as foreign minister after seven years on the job, during which he made international headlines for his vocal stance on the crisis in neighbouring Ukraine.

His successor, Grzegorz Schetyna from Kopacz's centre-right Civic Platform (PO), was Tusk's main rival within PO.

Analysts believe Kopacz gave him the new job to placate a strong personality that could stoke divisions within the party if he were left out of government -- a crucial move in the run-up to next year's general elections.

The parliament will hold a vote of confidence in the new government on October 1.

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