The Polish president of the European Council Donald Tusk reiterated the EU’s position that Vladimir Putin’s Russia represents the biggest threat to the unity of the European Union.
Speaking at a conference on the future of the European Union in Poland, Tusk chose as the specific occasion to underline the EU’s concern that Moscow is actively trying to influence the direction of politics in Europe, saying recent elections in Latvia, where a pro-Kremlin party came out in front, was proof that Putin is sent on either weakening or breaking up the EU.
“Our problem is Russia, which is undermining whatever it can possibly undermine in Europe,” Tusk said at the Kraków conference, adding that he is in the position to provide “numerous examples” to prove that Russia has no intention of halting its attempts to weaken European unity.
Tusk went so far as to suggest that the Latvian election could be “a turning point for that region — a moment when the result was planned in the Kremlin and not in Europe.”
Latvia’s pro-Russia Harmony Party topped polls and the country’s ruling coalition lost its majority in a national election held on October 6. The harmony party, which gets much of its support from the Baltic country’s large Russian-speaking minority, took 19.9% of the votes in the poll and outpacing two populist parties that are ideologically allied to Harmony.
The liberal pro-Western party, Development/For!, finished a disappointing fourth with only 12% of the vote.
Tusk warned that he is not overly biased against Russia, but that it has become undeniable that Putin has nefarious plans for Europe. “If there is (a nation) somewhere whose main political priority is to disintegrate Europe, this certainly is Russia.”
“There are people who think that Europe’s demise is inevitable and they, unfortunately, have quite a lot of arguments to support this,” said Tusk, warning the EU heads of state and government not to “fool” themselves over the state of relations between Europe and the United States under Donald J. Trump, who has repeatedly sided with Russia in calling the EU “a foe” of the US and the NATO alliance “obsolete” and “a scam” designed to extort money from Washington.
“Never before, in my entire life, has America been a problem for Europe,” Tusk said while commenting on the Trump administration. “What happened under the administration of Donald Trump is a new phenomenon…America is, today, turning away from Europe. And this is intentional (on their part),” he added.
On Poland’s rule of law
As the EU takes measures to retaliate against the Polish government’s controversial judicial reforms, Tusk waded into the debate by saying liberal democracy is defined by the rule-of-law, freedom of speech, and human rights, adding that Poland is better off being a law-abiding member of the European Union that pays special attention to upholding the set of standards that the Union stands for.