Sunday

21st Jan 2018

Gay-friendly Poland wants more EU clout, prime minister says

  • Mr Barroso (r) had a sense of deja vu after meeting Jaroslaw Kaczynski's twin brother earlier this year (Photo: European Commission)

Poland's new conservative prime minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski painted a picture of a tolerant, gay-friendly Poland on his first visit to Brussels, but warned that any new EU constitution must give Warsaw real clout in EU-decision making.

"I ask you not to believe in the myth of Poland as an anti-semitic, homophobic and xenophobic country," he stated to a packed press room on Wednesday (30 August) after a "cordial" 45 minute meeting with European Commission head Jose Manuel Barroso.

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.

"Poland has excellent relations with Israel, I'll be bold to say among the best in Europe," Mr Kaczynski stated, adding "People with such [homosexual] preferences have full rights in Poland, there is no tradition in Poland of persecuting such people."

He admitted that an anti-semitic "fringe" exists in Polish politics but said it is in a process of change, while showcasing the fact Poland has many gay nightclubs and magazines, as well as "people of such a persuasion holding high public positions, on the right and not just on the left."

His defence of Poland in terms of liberal, so-called "European values" comes after months of western media and left-wing politicians' outcries about alleged neo-fascist elements in Mr Kaczynski's coalition partners, the League of Polish Families party, and attacks on gay rights marches in major Polish towns.

Poland's president and Jaroslaw Kaczynski's twin brother, Lech Kaczynski, in July supported bringing back the death penalty, while a string of top diplomats has deserted the new government amid stark warnings that the eurosceptic Kaczynski twins are isolating Warsaw in the EU.

Jaroslaw Kaczynski - widely described as the dominant twin in the pair - wrote off the existing text of the EU constitution as a "matter for history", saying Poland will not submit the document for ratification "because I know it would fail, and I do not want to spoil the atmosphere."

Warsaw plans to present detailed proposals for a new charter to the upcoming German EU presidency early next year, the prime minister explained, predicting that the federalist-sounding text "will probably need to change its name" and warning that Poland will take a tough line on EU voting system reforms.

"We need to have not just the possibility of having our voice heard in European decisions, but to be reckoned with," Mr Kaczynski indicated, with the existing draft charter foreseeing a population-weighting mechanism that would give Germany more power in pushing through new EU laws.

Barroso cautious

Commission president Barroso gave a cautious reaction to Mr Kaczynski's pledges of goodwill, placing more stress on his trust in pro-EU Polish public opinion than statements by the Polish political elite or media analysts about Warsaw's future relations with Brussels.

"If you look at Polish public opinion, you see support growing," he said, reminiscing on his warm welcome in Gdansk last August. "I don't take decisions based on comments but facts. I believe the facts will confirm the attachment of Poland to the European mission."

He indicated that non-discrimination is a "basic" value of the EU club, while playing to Polish popular opinion by stressing the post-Cold War security dimension of the 25-member bloc and gesturing toward Poland's self-image as a heroic victim of Nazi Germany and Soviet communism.

"Polish people understand the fundamental value of the EU for peace, freedom, democracy and social and economic progress," Mr Barroso said. "The Polish people are a great people that have made a great contribution to the history of Europe."

Déjà vu

The commission president took the risk of making a joke at the notoriously prickly Kaczynski twins' expense, however.

"It was my first meeting [with Jaroslaw Kaczynski], although I had the impression I met him before, because I met some months ago the president of the Polish republic," Mr Barroso quipped.

"Of course, the commission has a great deal of respect for Poland," he added quickly.

Catalonia prepares for rule by Skype

The two biggest parties in Catalonia have vowed to put Puigdemont back in office despite Madrid's threat to maintain direct rule.

Catalonia prepares for rule by Skype

The two biggest parties in Catalonia have vowed to put Puigdemont back in office despite Madrid's threat to maintain direct rule.

News in Brief

  1. Germany confirms attendance at air quality summit
  2. Nearly half of 'fixed' Dieselgate cars show problems
  3. YouTube, Twitter, Facebook up hate speech deletion
  4. UK mulls bridge to France
  5. German far-right float anti-asylum bill
  6. EU Parliament to investigate glyphosate-decision process
  7. 'Mutagenesis' falls outside EU's GMO rules, says EU top lawyer
  8. Decision on Polish MEP's Nazi-era slur postponed

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Solutions for Sustainable Cities: New Grants Awarded for Branding Projects
  2. Mission of China to the EUTrade Between China, Belt and Road Countries up 15%
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersOresund Inspires Other EU Border Regions to Work Together to Generate Growth
  4. Mission of China to the EUTrade Between China, Belt and Road Countries up 15%
  5. AJC Transatlantic InstituteAJC Calls on EU to Sanction Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, Expel Ambassadors
  6. Dialogue PlatformRoundtable on "Political Islam, Civil Islam and The West" 31 January
  7. ILGA EuropeFreedom of Movement and Same-Sex Couples in Romania – Case Update!
  8. EU2017EEEstonia Completes First EU Presidency, Introduced New Topics to the Agenda
  9. Bio-Based IndustriesLeading the Transition Towards a Post-Petroleum Society
  10. ACCAWelcomes the Start of the New Bulgarian Presidency
  11. Mission of China to the EUPremier Li and President Tusk Stress Importance of Ties at ASEM Summit
  12. EU2017EEVAT on Electronic Commerce: New Rules Adopted

Latest News

  1. Middle East, Messi and missing MEPs on the agenda This WEEK
  2. Instagram and Google Plus join EU anti-hate speech drive
  3. EU wants 'entrepreneurship' in education systems
  4. UK loses EU satellite centre to Spain
  5. Pay into EU budget for market access, Macron tells May
  6. Ethiopian regime to get EU migrants' names
  7. EU to lend Greece up to €7bn more next week
  8. Nato prepares to take in Macedonia

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Jewish CongressChair of EU Parliament Working Group on Antisemitism Condemns Wave of Attacks
  2. Counter BalanceA New Study Challenges the Infrastructure Mega Corridors Agenda
  3. Dialogue PlatformThe Gülen Community: Who to Believe - Politicians or Actions?" by Thomas Michel
  4. Plastics Recyclers Europe65% Plastics Recycling Rate Attainable by 2025 New Study Shows
  5. European Heart NetworkCommissioner Andriukaitis' Address to EHN on the Occasion of Its 25th Anniversary
  6. ACCACFOs Risk Losing Relevance If They Do Not Embrace Technology
  7. UNICEFMake the Digital World Safer for Children & Increase Access for the Most Disadvantaged
  8. European Jewish CongressWelcomes Recognition of Jerusalem as the Capital of Israel and Calls on EU States to Follow Suit
  9. Mission of China to the EUChina and EU Boost Innovation Cooperation Under Horizon 2020
  10. European Gaming & Betting AssociationJuncker’s "Political" Commission Leaves Gambling Reforms to the Court
  11. AJC Transatlantic InstituteAJC Applauds U.S. Recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s Capital City
  12. EU2017EEEU Telecom Ministers Reached an Agreement on the 5G Roadmap