Poland’s Finance Minister Mateusz Morawiecki says European Union criticism against the government’s crackdown on media freedom is “illegitimate” and that the bloc had “completely misunderstood the situation”.
In an interview with Deutsche Welle (DW), Germany’s international broadcaster, the minister also rejected criticism from Polish Ombudsman Adam Bodnar, who is charged under the constitution with protecting rights and freedoms in his country. Bodnar recently spoke of attempts to paralyse Poland’s constitutional court.
Morawiecki said Bodnar “is completely politically tainted” as he is “in the avant-garde of fighting for the previous establishment”.
According to DW, Poland’s government has also drawn criticism for taking control of state television and radio broadcasters.
At the end of 2015, PiS signed into law a bill that allows the government to designate the heads of public TV and radio. The Council of Europe, the European body which promotes human rights, called the move “unacceptable in a genuine democracy”.
Reporters Without Borders has recently reported that since PiS came to power, “over 220 public media journalists have been fired, forced to quit or moved to less influential positions by the Polish government.”
Speaking to DW, Morawiecki defended the government’s current stance on the media, saying: “In Poland, the media is in the hands of only one group… Is this a balanced media approach?”
As regards criticism that Poland’s governing party is reluctant to take in refugees and migrants, Morawiecki objected. He said: “We are accommodating hundreds of thousands of refugees from Ukraine. We have registered one million Ukrainians. 1.3 [million] to speak precisely.”
“We do accept lots of Muslims, but not as many as in Germany,” Morawiecki explained, “because you are a much richer country, because you didn’t have 50 years of communism.”