10th Jun 2023

Two-headed Poland in EU summit farce

An ugly row over who should represent Poland at Wednesday's (15 October) EU summit has ended with both Prime Minister Donald Tusk and President Lech Kaczynski coming to Brussels, without a decision on who will lead the delegation or take part in top-level meetings.

Mr Tusk, foreign minister Radoslaw Sikorski and finance minister Jacek Rostwoski will fly to the EU capital on Tuesday evening on Poland's "Air Force One" - a Tupolev TU-154M - carrying official summit accreditation and Poland's negotiation mandate for the EU talks.

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  • President Kaczynski at a Polish folk gathering - wants to advise in the EU corridors (Photo:

With just three golden ID badges available for entry into the EU summit chamber and two chairs at the top table itself, the prime minister has said he wants his men beside him for the main discussions - on the financial crisis and CO2 emission cut plans.

"On this I will not compromise, because it's about bigger issues than a dispute between politicians," the prime minister said on TV, after last-ditch talks in Warsaw on Monday night in which Mr Tusk and Mr Kaczynski reportedly called each by the Polish polite form "Mr" - a sarcastic way of indicating dislike.

The Tupolev will then turn around and pick up Mr Kaczynski's team on Wednesday morning, with presidential aides saying their boss - from the opposition Law and Justice party - will advise the prime minister in the EU corridors and take over the chair in any talks on Georgia or the Lisbon treaty.

"The prime minister wants to decide when the president can fulfil his obligations and to become his superior," the president's top advisor, Piotr Kownacki, told the Dziennik newspaper. "[We've] asked to be given the negotiating mandate, that is, which position the president should take in the talks."

Another presidential aide, Andrzej Duda, on Monday published a legal note explaining that President Kaczynski is the head of the Polish delegation under the country's constitution and that Mr Tusk is breaking the law by trying to shut him out.

Polish EU summit confusion began under the former government led by Lech Kaczynski's twin brother, Jaroslaw Kaczynski, when the pair used to send Lech to Brussels while Jaroslaw negotiated with EU leaders by phone from Warsaw.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Tusk's side is in despair over the president's apparent poor grasp of the summit agenda and the harm done to Poland's image.

"On the subject of the Lisbon treaty, we can expect a brief presentation from the Irish side, on why the referendum had a negative result. No debate is foreseen. I expect this can be wrapped up in seven-and-a-half to 15 minutes," Polish Europe minister Mikolaj Dowgielewicz told PAP.

"We are very far advanced in terms of conclusions on [Georgia] ... so I don't expect a leaders' discussion on this," he added, with the subject to be handled at an EU foreign ministers' dinner instead.

"Mr President, I kneel before you. Please let this go, please don't come [to Brussels] and don't weaken the negotiating position of our country," Polish foreign minister Mr Sikorski told national radio on Monday.

"I don't even want to imagine, the comments we'll get about this," he later told Polish TV.


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