Poland has no reason to fulfil its obligations towards the European Union given that the European Commission has broken agreements with the Polish government, says Jarosław Kaczyński, head of the ruling national-conservative Law and Justice (PiS) party.
Kaczyński also warned that there is a “German-Russian plan to rule over Europe” and suggested that the opposition, led by Donald Tusk, is working under “foreign orders” to “enslave Poland”.
Jarosław Kaczyński w tygodniku „Sieci”: Dalej nie możemy się cofnąć. Była umowa – z naszej strony dotrzymana. Z tamtej złamanahttps://t.co/QYsT8wcvdK
— Tygodnik Sieci (@Tygodnik_Sieci) August 7, 2022
In an interview with Sieci, a PiS-friendly news weekly, Kaczyński – who resigned from his role as deputy prime minister in June but, as PiS chairman, remains Poland’s de facto leader – claimed that the government “showed maximum goodwill” towards the EU “but concessions did not help”.
“There was an agreement – kept to on our part [but] broken from that [side],” he said. “It is time to draw conclusions…We had to try, if only to make the issue clear. And today it is clear – everyone can see what the game is about.”
Kaczyński’s remarks refer to an ongoing dispute with the European Commission over the release of billions of euros in Covid recovery funds for Poland, which Brussels is withholding until Poland meets a series of “milestones”, including rolling back some judicial reforms.
In order to comply, the Polish government closed down a disciplinary chamber for judges last month. However, Commission President Ursula von der Leyen warned that, while this was “an important step”, it was not enough on its own to ensure the independence of judges.
“If I knew that they would give us the main funds, I would have a different approach,” Kaczyński told Sieci. “But I am convinced that by wanting to break Poland and force it into full submission to Germany, they will also block these funds. They will find new excuses.”
Regarding the EU’s demands relating to Poland’s judiciary, “everyone can see that the purpose of these interventions was not to protect the European rule of law, but to dismantle the rule of law in Poland”, claimed the PiS chairman.
“If the European Commission does not fulfil its obligations towards Poland then we have no reason to fulfil our obligations towards the EU,” he declared.
Kaczyński also suggested, as he and his party often have in the past, that the opposition is colluding with foreign powers to reduce Poland’s sovereignty and independence.
“Some…cynically count on fortunes that they will earn by enslaving Poland,” said Kaczyński, suggesting that they want to profit from Poland adopting the euro. “Opposite [us] are forces that reject democracy, ruthlessly using their accumulated resources, institutional advantages. They want a weak Poland, submissive to neighbouring powers.”
“We do not fit into the German-Russian plans to rule over Europe,” continued the PiS chairman. “An independent, economically, socially and militarily strong Poland is an obstacle for them. From a historical perspective, this is nothing new.”
Referring to Tusk, leader of Civic Platform (PO), the largest opposition party, Kaczyński accused him of “brutalising public life” with his attacks on PiS. “Our enemies have always wanted a primitive, vulgar Poland that rejects culture [and] this is what Tusk is building on a foreign order”.
By contrast, the ruling coalition is the “pro-Polish, [pro-]independence, patriotic and democratic camp”, said Kaczyński, who appealed to Poles to “understand and accept that they [the opposition] are trying to take our freedom, our sovereignty and to rob us”.
He added that the situation “reminds me more and more of 1989”, when the democratic opposition was trying to throw off Soviet-backed communist rule. Back then, the security services sought to use “various provocations” and “aggression” against the democratic forces, and today the same thing is happening, he claimed.
Recent days have seen a number of senior PiS figures suggest that the party will begin to take a tougher line towards the EU amid a continued standoff over the release of Covid recovery funds.
Senior PiS MEPs Zdzisław Krasnodębski, Ryszard Legutko and Jack Saryusz-Wolski have declared that it is “time for a change in policy towards the EU”, notes Wprost.
Speaking today to Polskie Radio, PiS general secretary Krzysztof Sobolewski declared that the European Commission has “gone beyond the [EU] treaties and all established norms” with regard to its rule-of-law demands.
He noted that Poland has complied with the demand to shut down its disciplinary chamber for judges, and warned that if “the commission tries to push us against the wall…we have no choice but to pull out all the weapons in our arsenal and respond…eye for an eye”, including by wielding the right to veto EU policies.
Main image credit: Rafal Pozorski / Agencja Wyborcza.pl
Daniel Tilles is editor-in-chief of Notes from Poland. He has written on Polish affairs for a wide range of publications, including Foreign Policy, POLITICO Europe, EUobserver and Dziennik Gazeta Prawna.