An open letter to the most influential man in Poland: Mr. Kaczyński, your patriotism is misplaced!

11 April 2017 – VoxEurop

Heads of states and governments almost unanimously voted to extend the mandate of Donald Tusk as the President of the European Union. It would have been just a formality if not for the opposition by his own country, Poland, which voted against this extension. The chairman of the ruling party awaited the Prime Minister’s return with a bouquet of flowers, congratulating her on her tenaciousness. Is that indeed the way one should manifest patriotism?

Something is rotten in the states of Europe! The European Council is headed by a man who finds fault with the Old Continent and above all Poland. As the conservative Law and Justice party (PiS) of Jarosław Kaczyński and prime minister Beata Szydło explains, Donald is responsible for the fall of Polish shipyards, the flooding of Europe by "Islamic immigrants", EU interference in Polish affairs, terrorist attacks, and, of course, Brexit. It’s quite amazing that just one man has such vast causative power.

PiS tried to save the Union by proposing an alternative candidature – Polish MEP Jacek Saryusz-Wolski. He is generally well-considered, but without any actual experience in exercising power. He was in fact the secretary of the Committee for European Integration and the chairman of the European Parliament's Foreign Affairs Committee, but has never been a minister. It is not surprising then that no one accepted the Warsaw’s offer. Beata Szydlo, who in her role as prime minister is somewhat prompted by the party's chair, did not accept the conclusions of the summit at which Tusk's term was extended. So, she argued, the summit was invalid.

Mr. Chairman Kaczyński! Donald Tusk, as President of the European Council, has done a lot of good for his country. He opposed the radical position of the European Commission, which demanded a mass relocation of refugees, and above all the imposition of penalties on states that failed to meet their obligations.

Donald Tusk contributed to a compromise on the sanctions imposed on Russia. You would agree, wouldn’t you, that the security of Poland depends on the security of Ukraine, and the sanctions imposed on Moscow go to show its leaders that it cannot treat its western neighbour as its own backyard?

Contrary to popular opinion, Donald Tusk showed exceptional restraint as regards statements undermining the rule of law in Poland. He repeatedly said that he believed in reaching a compromise on the Constitutional Court and he expressed the opinion that sanctions against Poland for not respecting the rule of law were unlikely.

Mr. Chairman Kaczyński! Donald Tusk as the President of the EC is a guarantee that the view of Central and Eastern Europe will be taken into consideration at the highest level of EU power. It is not a secret that the interests of EU Member States are contradictory. Countries of the former Eastern bloc see the potential threat from Moscow, while Western Europe is more sensitive to the negative signals coming from the Middle East. Visegrád Group members are more interested in an energy union with Old Europe than in climate policy. Western countries are more inclined towards a two-speed Europe, and Central Europe attaches greater importance to EU structural funds and the need for European solidarity.

The Presidents of the European Parliament and the European Commission as well as the head of EU diplomacy come from Western European states. Donald Tusk is the only politician holding one of the key positions in the EU and representing the "second lung of Europe". Who among them, do you think, is best attuned to hear the voices coming from Central Europe?

Mr. Chairman Kaczyński! When, in 2004, Bronisław Geremek became the candidate of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe for the presidency of the European Parliament, all Polish MEPs voted for his candidature, including PiS deputies, although they were hardly in favour of his liberal ideas. They simply expressed national solidarity. This did not bring the expected result but five years later another Pole, Jerzy Buzek, took up this position. Doesn’t it make you proud that your countryman is at the head of an institution of democratically elected representatives of Europeans?

And this is not just about pride, but also about prestige. The fact that a citizen of a given nation holds a leading position in an international institution demonstrates his country’s international standing. It is no accident that since 1978 the Director General of the International Monetary Fund is a representative of one of Europe's five largest economic powers, and that the President of the World Bank is an American.

Mr. Chairman Kaczyński! Donald Tusk came to preside over Europe in difficult times. The Old Continent has faced a number of crises: economic (in 2015 Greece was in danger of bankruptcy), humanitarian (an influx of millions of refugees) and political (for the first time, one of the member states is about to leave the EU). Despite all of this, the former Prime Minister of Poland is managing quite well. The circumstances require quick decisions, so Tusk significantly reduced the discussion time. The interests of Europeans are not cohesive, so Tusk's role is to work out compromises. The President of the European Council is wise and self-controlled, and these are the very attributes Europe is in need of in order to slowly, but decisively, overcome the storm of adversity.

Therefore, a Polish politician is good for the EU and what’s good for the EU is also good for Poland. What will ensure Poland’s civilizational development if not EU funds? What will protect the rights of Polish citizens living in the United Kingdom, if not the negotiations on its exit from the EU?

Mr. Chairman Kaczyński! Contrary to what you think, Donald Tusk's alternative was not Jacek Saryusz-Wolski, but a leftist politician from Western Europe. There are two equilibria in the Union in terms of the division of key positions: geographic and political. For example, in 2007, Jerzy Buzek, the president of the EP from Central Europe, was replaced by the leftist, western European politician, Hans-Gert Pöttering.

Removing your countryman from power would mean that a socialist – what a horror to behold: advocating abortion, the rights of sexual minorities, tax increases, the weakening of national identity and a limited role for the Church – would take over the reins from Donald Tusk. This wouldn’t exactly be to Law and Justice’s taste, now would it?

Mr. Chairman Kaczyński! What about you running for the position of the president of the European Council in two and a half years? You would need to polish up your English a little above the level of your late twin brother, who some years back laughed at Tusk's language skills, all the while not trusting a translator that the Dutch speak Dutch, and not Netherlandish.

Translated by Władysław Bibrowski

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