Monday

21st Jan 2019

Kaczynski rejects EU 'pressure' ahead of EP debate

  • Kaczysnki (l) said to pull strings on PiS prime minister Beata Szydlo and president Andrzej Duda (Photo: pis.org.pl)

Poland’s most powerful politician, Jaroslaw Kaczynski, has said he won’t bow to EU “pressure” on judicial reform, ahead of a European Parliament debate.

Kaczynski, the chairman of the ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party, told the Rzeczpospolita daily in an interview out on Monday (18 January): “There’s no sense in worrying about this in the slightest. We have to follow our own path and not give in to any pressure. Poland is a sovereign state.”

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He said it’s “laughable, to say the least” to claim the health of Polish democracy is at risk.

“We’re being attacked for nothing.”

He added that if the European Commission, which last week launched a rule-of-law monitoring mechanism on Poland, doesn’t back down “then we’ll have an EU Council vote on whether to impose sanctions [suspension of Poland’s Council voting rights] and from our understanding, there’ll be no consensus on this case, which de facto closes the subject.”

Kaczynski blamed Donald Tusk, the Polish president of the European Council, who hails from the opposition Civic Platform party, for making matters worse.

“I don’t know how these issues are handled in the corridors of Brussels, but I read in the media … that Tusk said if I don’t stop, this procedure [on suspension of Council votes] will be opened.”

“That would be another bad step in Donald Tusk’s political life.”

Asked by Rzeczpospolita if the EU-Poland row could play into Russia’s hands, Kaczynski replied: “One might conclude from our geopolitical position that we should abandon our sovereignty because Russia and Germany are more powerful … I don’t think we should abandon it.”

The commission monitoring and the EP debate, due on Tuesday, come after PiS, last month installed loyalist judges in Poland’s Constitutional Tribunal and raised the bar and quorum for issuing verdicts.

It has also taken control of public TV, radio, and print media by firing previous directors and installing its own people.

Kaczynski didn’t mention the media reforms.

He justified the judicial changes by saying PO stuffed the tribunal with its own people shortly before it lost elections, in October, in order to block future PiS legislation.

He said a bigger majority of judges is needed to make decisions because law “isn’t like maths” and judges often disagree on verdicts.

He also said he’s willing to appoint new judges nominated by opposition parties in future.

He said an alternative solution would be to have the ruling party nominate eight judges out of 15, while opposition parties pick the other seven.

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