WARSAW, Poland — Germany President Frank-Walter Steinmeier said Friday he thinks Poland will need to play a role if the European Union is to emerge united from its current crisis.

Steinmeier spoke during his first visit as president to Poland, which will become the EU’s fifth largest member by population following Britain’s departure from the bloc. Steinmeier had visited his nation’s eastern neighbor several times in his earlier position of foreign minister.

The one-day visit comes as Poland’s ties have cooled with Germany, as well with the rest of the EU, under a nationalist Polish government that has at times has taken Euroskeptic positions.

“For me it’s clear that Poland belongs to the core of Europe and Poland will be needed if we are to overcome this crisis that we are no doubt in,” Steinmeier said at a news conference alongside Polish President Andrzej Duda.

“The crisis did not start with Brexit but without a doubt it has gotten deeper with Brexit and that makes it even more important that the 27 of us stick together and we need Poland for that.”

He said he also hoped that Poland could reach an understanding with the European Commission, which is concerned over rule of law in the country due to the government’s erosion of independence of the Constitutional Tribunal.

Newly elected German leaders usually make Poland one of their first foreign visits.

Author photo
The AP is one of the largest and most trusted sources of independent newsgathering. AP is neither privately owned nor government-funded; instead, as a not-for-profit news cooperative owned by its American newspaper and broadcast members, it can maintain its single-minded focus on newsgathering and its commitment to the highest standards of objective, accurate journalism.