Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Poland to end 3 military missions to save money

February 4, 2009

Poland plans to end its military missions in Lebanon, the Golan Heights and Chad as it cuts spending due to the global economic crisis, the defense minister said Wednesday.

Other Polish deployments, such as those in Afghanistan, Kosovo and Bosnia, are unaffected by the decision.

Poland is trying to cut its defense spending this year by about 2 billion zlotys ($56 million) as its economy, the largest among the European Union's new ex-communist members, shows signs of a significant slowdown.

Poland has about 500 troops in a U.N. force in Lebanon, 360 troops on U.N. duty on the Golan Heights — a territory captured by Israel from Syria in the 1967 Arab-Israeli war — and about 400 in Chad on a European Union mission that is to become a U.N. mission in March.

"These three missions will be scrapped," Defense Minister Bogdan Klich said. "Due to spending cuts but also because ... U.N. missions are lower down among our security policy priorities."

Klich did not say when the deployments would end. The government's plan needs approval from parliament and from President Lech Kaczynski, who is the supreme commander of the armed forces.

The planned defense savings are part of wider government efforts to cut spending by some 19.7 billion zlotys this year.

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