European Council President Donald Tusk, Poland’s former prime minister, has warned against the policies implemented by his homeland’s ruling right-wing government. He described them as “Kremlin’s plan”.
“Alarm! A vehement dispute with Ukraine, isolation in the European Union, departure from the rule of law and independent courts, attack on non-governmental sector and free media – PiS strategy or Kremlin’s plan?” Tusk tweeted. “Too similar to rest easy.”
In a response to Tusk’s comment, Prime Minister Beata Szydlo tweeted: “@donaldtusk as @eucopresident has done nothing for Poland. Today, using his position to attack the Polish government, he is attacking Poland”.
As reported by the Reuters news agency, Tusk was referring to, among other things, the fact that Ukraine summoned the Polish ambassador in Kiev on November 18 after Poland denied entry to a Ukrainian official in an escalation of a diplomatic spat over the two neighbours’ troubled past.
Tusk did not provide details of what he described as the “Kremlin’s plan”. In May, however, Tusk urged Group of Seven leaders on to stick to their sanctions policy on Russia over the Ukraine crisis. Tusk also sided with member nations such as Poland and the Baltic states in their efforts to oppose a new pipeline connecting Russia and Germany.
This is the latest twist in the long-running saga that has pitted the European Union against the ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party.
PiS has been increasingly at loggerheads with the EU and Tusk since coming to office in late 2015, although the acrimony between Tusk and PiS dates back many years, according to Reuters. The PiS is locked in disputes with the bloc over immigration, logging of an ancient forest and putting courts and media under more government control.
In March, Poland’s defence minister accused Tusk of working with Russian President Vladimir Putin to harm Polish interests following the 2010 plane crash that killed President Lech Kaczynski – the twin brother of ruling PiS leader Jarosław Kaczyński – and 95 others.
In related news, Bloomberg reported that Polish Prime Minister Beata Szydlo on November 17 criticised her fellow leaders and lawmakers from the bloc for weighing sanctions against the nation over anti-democratic actions and suggested they weren’t being honest.
Last week, the European Parliament said it would examine possible sanctions against Poland over democratic backsliding. This opens a second EU front against Warsaw after the European Commission last year initiated a rule-of-law investigation into the right-wing Law & Justice party due to judicial independence concerns.
Separately, French President Emmanuel Macron is slated to meet with Szydlo on November 23, according to his agenda.