We talked to the head of the Polish Parliamentary Foreign Affairs Committee about EU affairs, Joe Biden's anti-Polish and anti-Hungarian rhetoric, and the European Union's marasmus. We encourage you to read the interview!
In addition to Hungary, the so-called rule of law mechanism also extended to Poland. On Monday, the ambassadors of the European Union member states approved by a qualified majority a draft regulation to introduce a system of conditionality to protect the EU budget, which can thus be approved by the European Parliament. Whether at To you, this mechanism is a serious threat?
Perhaps let us clarify a few points. Firstly, the European Union has never been as divided as it is today. Secondly, with regard to these divisions, it is important to stress that it is not just a matter of a serious difference of opinion on EU subsidies or the budget. The EU Member States cannot even agree on political issues; after all, the condemnation of the Belarusian authorities was almost thwarted by Cyprus' opposition, and we barely reached an agreement on Navalny. Let us also remember, for example, the disagreement over the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline. Although thanks to the Visegrad Group it was possible to reach some compromise on the migration issue, it did not significantly affect these divisions and today their most important issue is the EU budget. The group of Western countries, led by the Netherlands, would like to link the disbursement of EU funds to its own concept of the rule of law, while we are of the opinion that these issues are not covered at all by the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union.
You cannot, by invoking the rule of law, interfere in the internal affairs of states,
The view on justice and the judiciary at the EU level should not be mixed up with the views of the member states. In the dispute over the rule of law, Mateusz Morawiecki and Viktor Orbán share the same position, and through firmness perhaps some compromise can be reached at the EU level.
Recently, neither international nor Hungarian media have mentioned the possibility of a compromise, while Jaroslaw Kaczynski and Viktor Orbán announced their veto on the EU budget. In the end, that threat became a reality. To what extent could we deepen the conflict with this veto? The southern countries are very insistent on starting payments, so how do we find a compromise between the EU South, East and West?
In spite of everything, I am of good opinion. We have already received the news from Polish representatives in the EU that
there is a possibility of a compromise solution to the rule of law issue.
As you mentioned, the situation is serious because the economies of the southern Member States have been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic. This results in a strong position, which also puts pressure on us and leads to an agreement. The budget veto is a powerful weapon in the hands of Poland and Hungary, but we nevertheless hope that an agreement can be reached.
Poland and the United States recently signed a new military agreement, and now Joe Biden will undoubtedly occupy the Oval Office for the next four years. What impact will his presidency have on the very close and multifaceted Polish-American relationship?
Apart from the emotions which were running high during the presidential election, there are two very important factors which need to be taken into account in the Polish-American relations. The first one is the question of security policy, where we are already bound by agreements and understandings signed by previous presidents. NATO is increasing its presence in Poland, which benefits not only us but also the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, which thus strengthens its position in the region. The second factor is the economic relations between the two countries, as political stability is conducive to economic development, which in turn may be a way to attract as many large American investors to Poland or other Central European countries as possible. Polish-American relations depend entirely on the strength and connection of these two factors. As for Biden, what is important for us is the fact that he gave a negative assessment of Nord Stream 2.
Stanisław Karczewski and Marek Kuchciński (Artur Widak / NurPhoto via AFP)
The economy and security issues were not addressed during the election campaign, contrary to political stereotypes. Biden portrayed Hungary and Poland in a negative light, and in the final days of the campaign he promised that in his first year in office he would organize a major international conference where governments that promote liberal democracy would discuss how to protect the world from regimes that adhere to autocratic, corrupt and illiberal principles - here one would have to be more specific about what he meant. Is there Mr. convinced that economic issues and security policy will dominate the political agenda and relations between states?
No one can give a 100 percent guarantee that, after the presidential election, these criticisms will not affect our relationship and the pursuit of our interests, but it is important to note that
This is not the first time that U.S. policymakers have made such statements about Central Europe without having reliable knowledge.
If Joe Biden had traveled around half of Poland and seen that the police did not block or stop protests, whether from the right or the left, but secured and protected their participants, he might have a different opinion. I think that after getting to know the situation better, he would evaluate it differently; after all, neither freedom of speech nor freedom of assembly is threatened in Poland.
Speaking of security policy, Moscow recently ended the war between Azerbaijan and Armenia. Yerevan is three hours by plane from Budapest, the same distance as London and Nagorno-Karabakh on the continent's border, and the European Union has been essentially unable to address the conflict. What is the threat to security policy posed by such a standstill?
The answer is actually contained in this question, because such events strike Europe. Undoubtedly, the European Union needs to be strengthened so that it can be both a major player on the world stage and a partner for dialogue. With regard to the specific issue of Armenia and Azerbaijan, the EU should now become involved in the peace process, so that it is not controlled solely by Russia and Turkey. In the same way, economic relations with the Caucasus region should be strengthened, ensuring that we are in an economic position to play a decisive role in the political world. It is in the vital interest of the Union, weakened after Brexit, to pay attention to the regions east of the Schengen area, and we must show strength and determination, because any weakness and indecision - including in the case of Armenia - leads to a decline in the EU's importance.
Marek Kuchcinski is a Polish politician, member of the Sejm for Law and Justice. He served as the Speaker of the Sejm from 2015 to 2019 and is currently the Chairman of the Sejm's Foreign Affairs Committee.
The author cooperates with the Mandiner portal, and as part of the MCC Fellowship Program he is on scholarship at the Wacław Felczak Institute for Polish-Hungarian Cooperation in Warsaw.