In an interview with the BBC, Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki warned that Russia is trying to destabilize the European Union in various ways in order to disintegrate it. As he assessed, one of the ways of this destabilization is the migration crisis. The head of the Polish government appealed for Europe to “wake up from a geopolitical nap”. He also argued that the European Commission wants to have more and more powers, just like the Court of Justice of the European Union. He defended the decisions made in this case by the Constitutional Tribunal led by Julia Przyłębska.
The interview was conducted during the Polish Prime Minister’s visit to London on November 26, during which it was received by the head of the British government, Boris Johnson. The conversation was aired on the BBC on Saturday.
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Morawiecki: Russia is trying to put pressure on the European Union
The head of the Polish government was asked about the tense situation on the border with Belarus. He said that the direct perpetrator of the migration crisis was the leader of Belarus, Alyaksandr Lukashenka, but he had his principal. – His principal is in the Kremlin. All the pieces of the puzzle put together do not represent a very good picture. There is a threat to Ukraine, troops gathering around Ukraine, pressure through all energy-related channels, in particular gas and oil prices. Russia is very good at propaganda, it is increasing its propaganda very much these days. He is trying to exert enormous pressure on the European Union to disintegrate, Morawiecki pointed out.
He stressed that Europe should “wake up from its geopolitical slumber” as further crises inspired by Russia may soon occur. “We should wake up from this nap right now, because it’s not too late to act.” Bad things could happen in Ukraine, for example, or there could be another huge migration problem for the whole of Europe. For example, given the rather sudden withdrawal of NATO troops from Afghanistan, Afghans may try to get to Europe via various routes. And we can see that Lukashenka and his principal are now opening new routes for illegal immigration, said the Polish Prime Minister.
Morawiecki argued that in connection with these threats, NATO should be strengthened and we should strive to find another glue that would bind the members of the Alliance, but he also expressed the conviction that after several years of disputes there was “a real hope of finding a new common denominator in NATO”. He explained that NATO should make it very clear what the trouble spots are, “what are the very high risk spots”. – And prepare our strategy against these threats, such as the influx of illegal migrants – he assessed.
– We know that today, in the times of hybrid war, which is called a new type of war, a simultaneous attack may occur on many different fronts. Russia is capable of this. And that is why we must all be vigilant for the next steps or potential next steps – he added.
Let us remind you: The actions of the Polish authorities in the context of the border crisis are also criticized. In September, 26 migrants from Michałów – including children – the Border Guard “led back to the border line”. According to lawyers, this procedure is contrary to the Geneva Convention on the Status of Refugees and to Polish laws. These opinions are quoted by Konkret24. In addition, there were accusations against the Polish side of not wanting to ask for help from Frontex – an EU agency helping to protect the EU’s borders, so that such situations would not reach the public opinion. Recently, concerns have been raised about the temporary ban on staying in the border area, issued by the head of the Ministry of Interior and Administration under the amended act on border protection and the amendment itself. Retired judge of the Constitutional Tribunal and former chairman of the National Electoral Commission Wojciech Hermeliński enumerated on TVN24 how and where the amendment violated the constitution.
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Morawiecki on the dispute with Brussels
The Prime Minister, when asked if it would not be better to have the European Union on his side during the ongoing migration crisis, rather than having disputes with it over the rule of law in Poland, admitted that “absolutely, it’s time to put it off”, but added his observation, that it takes good will on both sides. He argued that the ruling of the present Constitutional Tribunal (chaired by Julia Przyłębska) on the primacy of the Polish Constitution over EU law is not a precedent, because similar judgments were issued by tribunals in Germany, France or Spain.
Let us remind you: similar claims are made frequently by government officials. The case was investigated by Konkret24.
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– This is the crux of the matter who is the master of the fate of the European Union. They are the Member States, they are the masters of the treaty, the Treaty on European Union, so if there is any new competence to transfer to the European Union, it must be done through a treaty. Right now we are dealing with the situation where the European Commission and the Court of Justice of the EU claim that they have both the competences listed in the treaty and the competences that are not mentioned – Morawiecki explained his position.
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Questions about polexit and the rule of law
The Prime Minister assured that talking about Poland’s withdrawal from the EU in connection with these disputes was “a great exaggeration”. – Poland is a member of the European Union, Poland remains a member of the European Union and I believe that we are the voice of common sense – he said.
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When asked about the observance of human rights referred to in Art. 2 of the EU Treaty, including allegations of expulsion of migrants and accusations of prejudice against the LGBTQ + community, Morawiecki replied: – We not only respect Article 2, but also – if we compare Poland and the rule of law in judiciary to other countries – I would venture to say that we are even more ruled by the rule of law than a few other EU members.
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Let us recall: The changes in the judiciary introduced by the United Right have repeatedly raised concerns over the EU institutions. The new law in this area in Poland was under the scrutiny of the Venice Commission, which assesses the legislation of the countries of the Council of Europe, including the point of view of the rule of law. Actions were taken by the European Network of Councils for the Judiciary (ENCJ) and the European Commission – and finally there were proceedings before the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU). Since the beginning of 2018, over a dozen cases related to law reforms in Poland have been handed over to the CJEU. These were complaints from the European Commission, judges from Poland and preliminary questions from Polish courts. Konkret24 collected the most important decisions of the CJEU regarding the issues of law and courts in Poland, as well as conclusions from the report of the European Commission and the proceedings of the Venice Commission towards Poland.
CONKRET24: CJEU judgments, complaints from the European Commission, opinions of the Venice Commission – Polish rule of law in the European competition
In the prime minister’s opinion, “the European Commission wants to have more and more competences, as does the Court of Justice of the European Union.” – But if we compare the assumptions of our reform and what we planned to achieve, it turns out that the goal was to strengthen the independence of the judiciary – compared to what was before. Before the reform, we had judges who accused and imprisoned my colleagues from “Solidarity” when we fought for democracy and freedom in the 1980s – said Morawiecki. He argued that the cause of the dispute with the EU over the reform of the judiciary is not so much ideological issues, but “the lack of understanding of the situation in a given country, which wants to leave behind all post-communist elements and aspects of the justice system”.
Let us remind you: In July, the CJEU General Spokesman addressed the charges against the judges appointed during the Polish People’s Republic. He stressed that there were no grounds for doubting the independence and impartiality of potentially all Polish judges appointed before 2018. The fact that some judges were first appointed to serve as judges during the Polish People’s Republic does not, in itself, allow the independence of these judges to be undermined, he pointed out. In his view, no “motive, means or possibility” could be identified in favor of a potential lack of independence.
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Morawiecki: perhaps we are entering a new era of destabilization
When asked about the place of Warsaw due to the tense relations with Moscow, Minsk and Brussels, Morawiecki replied that “Poland is home to the transatlantic community as part of the European Union.” However, he warned that there are not only good players around Europe and we should be vigilant in their attempts to destabilize Europe.
– And that is why I believe that Poland is not only a solid member of the EU, but in a way we have better access to knowledge about what is happening in Belarus, Ukraine and Russia, thanks to which we can be a kind of whistleblower. We can provide a better understanding to our Western European friends about what is happening around us. Perhaps we are entering a new era of destabilization. And it’s better to make all our friends aware of it. And that’s exactly what we do – emphasized Morawiecki.
Main photo source: PAP / Radek Pietruszka