Thursday

22nd Feb 2018

Tusk: Poland risks harming EU appeal

  • Tusk (r) with Ukainian president Petro Poroshenko in Brussels on Friday (Photo: consilium.europa.eu)

EU Council president Donald Tusk has said anti-democratic "interventions" in countries such as Poland and the US could harm Western soft power.

Speaking in Brussels on Friday (24 November) after a summit with six former Soviet states, he said: "If you [EU countries] want to be as attractive as before to our neighbours, we should be aware how important it is for all of us to fulfil … fundamental values".

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

  • Szydlo 'cold' with Tusk, diplomats said (Photo: consilium.europa.eu)

Tusk said the summit was "not directed against Russia, it's not a geopolitical beauty contest between Russia and the EU".

But the former Polish leader said that, having himself lived in the old Soviet bloc, "if it was a beauty contest, I would not hesitate for a second which side to choose".

He said countries such as Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine wanted to be part of the EU and the Western bloc more broadly because it was an area in which "human rights, and rule of law, and freedom of speech, are the most important part of our set of values".

But he also said, referring to recent developments in Poland and in the US, that "today we witness in the free world, on both sides of the Atlantic, the consequences of interventions which are against this set of values".

Those developments include the Polish government's attempt to seize control of courts and judges and of Polish state media in order to remain in power.

They also include US president Donald Trump's populism and his verbal attacks on the press.

Tusk said the issues were a "topic of conversation" at Friday's summit.

The former Polish PM stuck his neck out already last Sunday in a tweet which called for "alarm!" about the Polish authorities, who, he said, appeared to be serving the "Kremlin's plan".

"If we want to help our eastern partners, we must also be aware of threats from inside the EU and this is why I raised the alarm", he said on Friday.

The tweet saw Polish prime minister Beata Szydlo, at the time, attack Tusk for meddling in national politics.

She said nothing on the subject in Brussels on Friday, but her handshake with Tusk on the EU Council doorstep was "cold", diplomats said.

Aspirations

The 'Eastern Partnership' summit, a twice-yearly event, is designed to build closer relations with Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine.

The EU 28 and the six former Soviet countries issued a joint declaration in which they "acknowledge[d] the European aspirations", of Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine.

The communique stopped short of offering them a membership perspective, however.

It added that the three countries' EU association treaties would not lead to accession, the right to work in the EU, large scale financial assistance, or security guarantees.

"This was not an enlargement summit or an accession summit," European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker said.

He said Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine should now focus on how "to implement" their EU association accords instead of trying to go further.

He added, on that note, that: "I insisted [to Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko] on the need to fight corruption".

Diplomatic sources said Poroshenko, who had threatened to boycott the joint declaration due to its anti-enlargement tone, gave a "passionate" speech in the summit on the subject of "Russian aggression", but that he "did not try to negotiate anything" on EU membership.

Five Ukrainian soldiers were killed the day before the EU meeting in fighting with Russia-controlled forces in east Ukraine, the Ukrainian military said.

But Poroshenko's mood improved after Juncker offered to do a "feasibility study" on whether Ukraine could join the EU's energy union, digital union, and customs union by 2020.

"I had a long meeting with the Ukrainian president last night and I agreed to have this study done," Juncker said on Friday, without giving further details.

Belarus

The Commission chief sided with Lithuania in its opposition to Belarus and Russia's plan to build a nuclear power station within a close distance of Vilnius.

Juncker said the Ostrovets nuclear project "was not a bilateral issue between Lithuania and a neighbouring country, but a European issue, and I'm in full solidarity with the Lithuanians".

Vladimir Makei, the Belarusian foreign minister, did not mention the dispute.

He said Belarus was "caught between the devil and the deep blue sea, as we have Russia on one side and the EU on the other, who are currently opponents, unfortunately".

"We would like to suggest that our European partners abandon confrontational rhetoric," he said.

Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, for one, did take a soft approach.

She said Minsk had "once again demonstrated its good relations with the EU" by sending Makei to Brussels, adding that further progress in EU-Belarus ties would soon be discussed at the "highest political level".

EU warns Turkey over 'threat' to Cyprus

The European Commission called on Ankara to refrain from doing "damage to good neighbourly relations", after Turkish vessels stop a rig from reaching a gas drilling zone.

News in Brief

  1. Report: EU to increase sanctions on Myanmar
  2. Juncker 'worried' by Italian elections
  3. EU migration to UK at lowest since 2012
  4. MEP Andrieu will chair parliament pesticide committee
  5. Juncker's right-hand man warns of 'institutional blockage'
  6. Greek parliament to open probe on PMs and EU commissioner
  7. May gathers Brexit ministers to hammer out UK position
  8. Tajani asks Juncker for all EMA Brexit relocation documents

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EPSUMovie Premiere: 'Up to The Last Drop' - 22 February, Brussels
  2. Aid & Trade LondonJoin Thousands of Stakeholders of the Global Aid Industry at Aid & Trade London
  3. Macedonian Human Rights Movement Int.European Free Alliance Joins MHRMI to End the Anti-Macedonian Name Negotiations
  4. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Tourism Year to Promote Business and Mutual Ties
  5. European Jewish CongressAt “An End to Antisemitism!” Conference, Dr. Kantor Calls for Ambitious Solutions
  6. UNESDAA Year Ago UNESDA Members Pledged to Reduce Added Sugars in Soft Drinks by 10%
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsUzbekistan: Investigate Torture of Journalist
  8. CESICESI@Noon on ‘Digitalisation & Future of Work: Social Protection For All?’ - March 7
  9. UNICEFExecutive Director's Committment to Tackling Sexual Exploitation and Abuse of Children
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersState of the Nordic Region 2018: Facts, Figures and Rankings of the 74 Regions
  11. Mission of China to the EUDigital Economy Shaping China's Future, Over 30% of GDP
  12. Macedonian Human Rights Movement Int.Suing the Governments of Macedonia and Greece for Changing Macedonia's Name

Latest News

  1. EU leaders to kick off post-Brexit budget debate
  2. Greek government's steady steps to exit bailout programme
  3. Frontex: Europe's new law enforcement agency?
  4. Poland and Greece broke EU environment laws, rules court
  5. Dutch MPs vote on ending 'Ukraine-type' referendums
  6. Corruption report: Hungary gets worse, Italy makes progress
  7. UK seeks flexible transition length after Brexit
  8. Commission defence of Barroso meeting leaves 'discrepancies'

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Dialogue PlatformBeyond the Errors in the War on Terror: How to Fight Global Militarism - 22 February
  2. Swedish EnterprisesHarnessing Globalization- at What Cost? Keynote Speaker Commissioner Malmström
  3. European Friends of ArmeniaSave The Date 28/02: “Nagorno-Karabakh & the EU: 1988-2018”
  4. European Heart NetworkSmart CAP is Triple Win for Economy, Environment and Health
  5. European Free AlllianceEFA Joined the Protest in Aiacciu to Solicit a Dialogue After the Elections
  6. EPSUDrinking Water Directive Step Forward but Human Right to Water Not Recognized
  7. European Gaming & Betting AssociationGambling Operators File Data Protection Complaint Against Payment Block in Norway
  8. European Jewish CongressEJC Expresses Deep Concern Over Proposed Holocaust Law in Poland
  9. CECEConstruction Industry Gets Together to Discuss the Digital Revolution @ the EU Industry Days
  10. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Relations in the New Era
  11. European Free AlllianceEnd Discrimination of European Minorities - Sign the Minority Safepack Initiative
  12. Centre Maurits Coppieters“Diversity Shouldn’t Be Only a Slogan” Lorant Vincze (Fuen) Warns European Commission