Source of the photo, Platforma Obywatelska (Civic Platform) (CC BY-SA 2.0)
Civic Platform’s (EPP) National Council took place on 24th February in Warsaw. Amongst the speakers, aside form the Leader – Grzegorz Schetyna, there were Commissioner Elżbieta Bieńkowska, former Foreign Affairs Minister Radosław Sikorski, who joined his party for the first time since 2015, and members of the European Parliament from the party. Foreign policy was high on the agenda and the meeting’s motto was “#YesToEurope” (#TakdlaEuropy).
In his speech, Grzegorz Schetyna emphasized that “Law and Justice (ECR), that has ruled Poland for more than two years, destroyed Polish international image”, listing worsened relations with Israel, the United States, Ukraine, France, Germany and “the whole Western Europe”. At the same time, he expressed an opinon that “The only ally that Kaczyński names, which is Orban, only supports him conditionally”, implying that in face of a looming conflict, Hungary’s Prime Minister would not side with Kaczyński against Russia, Germany or the European Union.
In contrast, Grzegorz Schetyna praised the foreign policy of former governments led by Platforma – “We were an important regional ally of the United States. As a close partner of Germany, France and other key member states, we managed to succesfully defend the interests of Central Europe”. He also added that during the rule of Platforma, Poland, together with Sweden, designed Eastern Partnership, highlighting that it was Radosław Sikorski that “convinced the most important capitals of Europe to implement the project”.
Culture and nation
Grzegorz Schetyna has associated the criticism of PiS foreign policy with the way the nation is perceived. As he remarked, PO “reaches to traditions of community in the jagiellonian spirit” which is “the concept of civil society”, and at the same time rejects “narrow, tribal understanding of Polish character through the prism of race, ethnically homogeneous nation or one faith”, which the leader has indirectly accused PiS of.
As an example of building such a community, he mentioned the development of the Museum of the History of Polish Jews POLIN – “this museum is not devoted to some other, strange nation” – he said – “it has been built with old fellow citizens in mind”. Schetyna has also reminded that Poles are a community, “which not long ago was encompassing millions of Jews and Ukrainians, and hundreds of thousands of our citizens of different nationalities and faith”.
Platforma’s leader has thus emphasised that in nowadays, homogeneous Poland, “rememberance and tradition of the First and Second Republic of Poland cannot disappear, because then Poles would become a completely different, meagre nation”.
In her statement Róża Thun, MEP from PO hit similar tones, claiming that “patriotism is responsibility for Europe, too”. She has also called for the opposition to take action – “As opposition, we have to show that Poland is not like PiS. That Poles do not support PiS destructive influence on Poland and Europe”. She also didn’t agree with perceiving the EU as an external force. “There’s no Europe beyond us – it’s here”, she said.
Israel upon Vistula
“I do understand that PiS had a different concept of foreign policy” – Radosław Sikorski confessed, while talking about the issue of security. – “not a full membership within the group yielding power in EU, but an alternative project that doesn’t restrict sovereignty understood in an old-fashioned way: an international project, Polish-American, Poland as Israel upon Vistula”.
He didn’t hide that it’s a concept he “does not agree with at all” and which he believes to be “harmful for Poland.” He has also pointed out that PiS is not going to pursue it – “if american base is to form in Poland, it must be equally wanted by the government of the United States, the administration, the President, as well as the Congress, which has to allocate money for this project”. “I’m informing my right-wing colleagues that II World War revisionism, propagandist (atomic!) war with Israel, instigating or tolerating antisemitism in Poland and fighting the Jewish diaspora in the USA through the Atlantic – is not a good way of getting into the Congress’ good graces”, he added snidely.