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Politics

Polish premier Tusk asks for confidence vote after tape scandal

Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk asked parliament for a vote of confidence. The move comes after new extracts were published from secretly recorded conversations that have embarrassed officials.

Tusk called a confidence vote after members of his Cabinet were implicated in a scandal over leaked recordings that were published in a magazine.

The recordings, which have rocked the Polish government, feature officials criticizing or making derogatory comments about world leaders. It is reported that, in at least one, Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski described the country's alliance with the United States as "worthless ... even harmful because it gives Poland a false sense of security:"

"I'm ending my statement with a motion to the parliament speaker to conduct the confidence vote as soon as possible," Tusk announced to members of parliament.

"Without this mandate, I will not be effective, the government will not be able to clarify the bugging affair in a satisfactory manner and keep a handle on state interests," he said.

The Polish premier said on Monday that the recordings were part of an attempt to destabilize the country, adding that he would not be forced into making changes in his government lineup. However, he has warned that a snap election may be the only way out of the crisis.

Tusk's two-party governing coalition has 235 seats in the 460-member Polish parliament and would be expected to survive.

Cameron's 'incompetence'

The pro-Europe Sikorski is also alleged to have said that British Prime Minister David Cameron's concessions to euroskeptics show his "incompetence in EU affairs."

Even before the tape scandal, Sikorski had already earned himself him a place on the 2012 Top Global Thinkers list compiled by Foreign Policy magazine, for "telling the truth, even when it's not diplomatic." However, the remarks could undermine his bid to succeed EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton when her term comes to an end later this year.

Two people have already been charged over the appearance of the tapes, including the manager of a restaurant in which Sikorski dined.

An earlier recording was said to feature Polish central bank chief Marek Belka telling Interior Minister Bartlomiej Sienkiewicz that he would only support the government's economic policy if Rostowski - who was finance minister at the time - left his post.

Polish media reports have indicated that several hundred hours of recordings of politicians and top businessmen could still come to light.

rc/mkg (dpa, Reuters, AFP)

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