Thursday

18th Apr 2019

Polish FM said to have called US ties 'worthless'

  • Radek Sikorski - his name has often appeared in connection with the EU foreign policy post, up for grabs later this year (Photo: consilium.europa.eu)

Poland may be heading for early elections if an ongoing eavesdropping scandal continues to grow, with foreign minister Radoslaw Sikorski, seen as in the running for a top EU job, now caught up in the affair.

Sikorski was apparently caught rubbishing relations between Warsaw and Washington, according to tapes published by weekly magazine Wprost.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

He told to Jacek Rostowski, then finance minister, that relations with the US create a false sense of security in Poland and cause conflicts with Germany and Russia. "The Polish-American alliance is worthless," he said, according to the tapes.

"We'll think that everything is super, because we gave the Americans a blow job. [We are] losers. Complete losers," said Sikoski, who has often been mentioned as a potential successor to EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton.

He described the Polish attitude toward the US as "murzynskosc", which can be translated roughly as "like negroes" or more politely as "negritude".

"The problem in Poland is that we have very shallow pride and low self-esteem," he added.

According to the tapes, Rostowski agreed to support Sikorski in his campaign to become EU energy commissioner. In return, Sikorski promised to get Rostowski the top place on the EU election list for his constituency.

The conversation between top officials in Poland’s ruling party Civic Platform (PO) allegedly took place in one of the Warsaw’s restaurants in January.

The scandal started a week ago when Wprost published the first portion of secretly taped conversations between politicians.

They appeared to reveal that in July 2013 internal affairs minister Bartlomiej Sienkiewicz asked the head of the central bank for support in financing the budget deficit if the economic situation and ruling party polls were to worsen.

Central banker Marek Belka, in turn, asked for the dismissal of Rostowski (which happened in November).

Tapes recorded in restaurants

According to Wprost there are hundreds of hours of tapes recorded in different restaurants. The weekly says that they got some of them by e-mail from a businessman.

An investigation is underway into who was part of the taping.

According to leaks from prosecutors, some waiters were involved (one has already been charged), but it is not known who might have asked them to do it. Some commentators blame the opposition, some blame other sources – such as foreign secret services or business lobbies.

Investigators raided Wprost's office on Wednesday (18 June) to get the recordings, but after some hours they were forced to retreat amid protests by journalists from different newspapers. Wprost passed the tapes to the prosecutors the next day.

At the beginning prime minister Donald Tusk tried to play down the crisis and claimed that internal affairs minister Sienkiewicz and central banker Belka did not break the law.

But as the scandal evolved he was forced to change his position.

On Thursday, Tusk said he did not rule out Sienkiewicz's dismissal and for the first time said that should the political crisis escalate, early elections might follow.

Opposition parties are calling on the government to step down. They have also filed a motion for a parliamentary inquiry.

However an early election is unlikely to happen soon. The PM is seen as wanting to discipline his party and the governing coalition by raising the possibility.

But this strategy will depend on subsequent recordings. If nothing too substantial is revealed, Tusk may be able to regain control of the situation and defend his cabinet before parliament.

In the long run, much also depends on the poll ratings of Tusk’s PO.

If they take a dive due to the wiretapping scandal, the prime minister will find it hard to maintain a safe majority in parliament.

The next electoral test is meant to be local elections in November. If PO loses these, the government may not last until the general election scheduled for autumn 2015.

Poland keen on economic post in EU commission

Amid speculation about whether the Polish FM will become the EU's next head of diplomacy, Warsaw is more keen on an economically weightier post in the next EU commission.

Time for EU energy union, says Polish PM

The European Union must create an energy union to secure its supply and reduce its dependence on Russian gas, Poland's Prime Minister Donald Tusk has said.

Analysis

Bell tolls for EU asylum reforms

The cornerstone the EU's asylum reforms referred to by the shorthand as 'Dublin' could end up in the scrapheap following the European elections in May.

Opinion

The democratic swindle of the Spitzenkandidat

The Spitzenkandidat system has become an instrument of the promotion of MEPs (often German), and was supposed to make Europe more democratic. Reality has revealed the opposite.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  2. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  3. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  4. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  5. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody
  9. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  10. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic commitment to driving global gender equality
  12. International Partnership for Human RightsMeet your defender: Rasul Jafarov leading human rights defender from Azerbaijan

Latest News

  1. Romania drafts EU code on NGO migrant rescues
  2. Bulgaria, Hungary, and Malta shamed on press unfreedom
  3. EU drafts $20bn US sanctions list in aviation dispute
  4. Brunei defends stoning to death of gay men in EU letter
  5. US Democrats side with Ireland on Brexit
  6. Wifi or 5G to connect EU cars? MEPs weigh in
  7. How Brexit may harm the new EU parliament
  8. EU parliament backs whistleblower law

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNICEFUNICEF Hosts MEPs in Jordan Ahead of Brussels Conference on the Future of Syria
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic talks on parental leave at the UN
  3. International Partnership for Human RightsTrial of Chechen prisoner of conscience and human rights activist Oyub Titiev continues.
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic food policy inspires India to be a sustainable superpower
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersMilestone for Nordic-Baltic e-ID
  6. Counter BalanceEU bank urged to free itself from fossil fuels and take climate leadership
  7. Intercultural Dialogue PlatformRoundtable: Muslim Heresy and the Politics of Human Rights, Dr. Matthew J. Nelson
  8. Platform for Peace and JusticeTurkey suffering from the lack of the rule of law
  9. UNESDASoft Drinks Europe welcomes Tim Brett as its new president
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers take the lead in combatting climate change
  11. Counter BalanceEuropean Parliament takes incoherent steps on climate in future EU investments
  12. International Partnership For Human RightsKyrgyz authorities have to immediately release human rights defender Azimjon Askarov

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us