Thursday

21st Jan 2021

Poland calls for Nato 'readiness' on Russia

  • PiS chairman Jarosław Kaczyński is widely seen as Poland's de facto ruler (Photo: marcin ejsmont)

Nato troops in eastern Europe ought to be "combat ready" to deter Russian aggression, Poland's ruling party chief, Jarosław Kaczyński, has said.

But he also defended his conservative views on homosexuals and Poland's judicial reforms in a turbulent weekend for Polish-EU relations.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

  • EU values commissioner Vera Jourová is in Warsaw this week (Photo: European Commission)

"He [Russian leader Vladimir Putin] only attacks where he sees weaknesses and sees a chance to win," Kaczyński, the chairman of Poland's ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party, told German newspaper Bild on Saturday (25 January).

"Russia finds it difficult to face massive resistance, even of a diplomatic nature. This certainly applies to Poland and the Baltic states. That is why Nato presence is so important here," he added.

"Germany should send more troops to the Baltic States ... Good combat and operational readiness is required in eastern Europe," Kaczyński said.

The PiS chairman rarely gave interviews.

But he spoke out to rebuke Putin for "misusing history for his politics" after the Russian leader recently accused Poland of starting World War 2 [WW2] and of colluding in the Holocaust.

"The world knows the truth: It was Stalin's Soviet Union that attacked Poland on 17 September 1939. It was Soviet soldiers and hangmen of the NKVD [secret police] who murdered hundreds of thousands of Polish officers in Katyń ... in 1940," Kaczyński said.

Poland is currently weighing up whether to seek WW2 reparations from Germany in a move that could further strain EU politics.

But Kaczyński also praised modern Germany by contrast to Putin's regime.

"Germany and Russia are not comparable! There is a democratically elected government in Berlin, where law and morality apply. This cannot be said of Russia," Kaczyński noted.

German WW2 transparency has also "made it really difficult for Russia and its president to continue telling lies and portraying us Poles in a bad light," he added.

Kaczyński spoke amid turbulent times also in Polish-EU relations.

EU institutions launched a sanctions procedure against Poland two years ago over allegations that PiS was undermining judicial independence.

The Polish constitutional court could no longer "give effective constitutional review", a European Commission spokesman also noted last Friday, while urging PiS to restore the court's "legitimacy".

That saw Polish deputy foreign minister Paweł Jabłoński summon the EU envoy to Warsaw, Marek Prawda, for a telling off on Saturday.

The EU statements were "seriously inconsistent" and based on "double standards", Jabłoński said.

They were a based on "a major misunderstanding", Kaczyński also told Bild, and the PiS judicial reforms were needed to purge "privileged groups" in Polish society who "originate from communist times", he added.

For her part, the EU commissioner for values, Vera Jourová, is in Warsaw on Monday to take part in a WW2 memorial prior to official meetings.

And she would continue to put pressure on Poland to respect EU norms, Prawda, the EU envoy, told Polish press.

"The European Commission is a community of law and cannot ignore the threats posed to [Polish] judges," he said on Saturday.

PiS values

The PiS has also clashed with the EU on migrants and on liberal mores more broadly speaking.

Kaczyński himself, in the past, has said African migrants brought "parasites and [dangerous] protozoa" to Europe and that homosexuality was a "threat".

He did not mention migrants on Sunday.

But he told Bild: "Whoever questions the traditional family model - the coexistence of men and women - is not only endangering Poland or Europe, but actually also the foundations of our civilisation".

Kaczyński claimed "there is no violence against homosexuals" in Poland, even though police arrested 25 people for attacking a pride march in one Polish town last July, for instance.

And he belittled EU support for the gay rights movement by suggesting it was a fake cause.

"I could ask another question: 'Is the EU also addressing violence against small men?'," Kaczyński said.

Opinion

Why isn't Germany helping gay rights in Hungary, Poland?

The European Centre-Right LGBT+ Alliance demands Germany give up its resistance to the Anti-Discrimination Directive and suggest the commission and centre-right parties exert further pressure on Polish and Hungarian authorities to improve conditions for the LGBT+ community and people.

Polish judge on front line of EU clash

Poland is preparing to prosecute a government-critical judge using new powers the EU says are not compatible with European norms.

News in Brief

  1. Brexit prompted finance exodus from UK to France
  2. Italian PM Conte wins confidence vote in Senate
  3. Borrell washes hands of EU's Venezuela policy
  4. Russia backs Greece in eastern Mediterranean dispute
  5. 'Ski-holiday' Switzerland reaches new infection high
  6. Germany extends lockdown, others expected to follow
  7. Barnier to be Brexit special adviser to von der Leyen
  8. EU commisioner to visit Bosnia's Lipa migrant camp

Opinion

Rule-of-law deal: major step for Europe of values

At the very moment when an incumbent president across the Atlantic was carrying out staggering attacks on the foundations of democracy, the European Parliament obtained a historic agreement to protect the rule of law in Europe.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDAEU Code of Conduct can showcase PPPs delivering healthier more sustainable society
  2. CESIKlaus Heeger and Romain Wolff re-elected Secretary General and President of independent trade unions in Europe (CESI)
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersWomen benefit in the digitalised labour market
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersReport: The prevalence of men who use internet forums characterised by misogyny
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersJoin the Nordic climate debate on 17 November!
  6. UNESDAMaking healthier diets the easy choice

Latest News

  1. MEPs call to halt Russia pipeline over Navalny arrest
  2. EU targets vaccinating 70% of adults by summer
  3. Portugal pushes to start delayed 'future EU' conference
  4. EU Parliament pressing for inquiry into Frontex
  5. Untapped potential of the single market could boost European recovery
  6. Biden's 'Age of Aquarius'? Mars and Venus will clash over China
  7. The new dimension of 'ever-closer union'
  8. What do new CDU chief's pro-Russia views mean for Europe?

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us