Poland objects to reelection of Donald Tusk as European Council President

Poland objects to reelection of Donald Tusk as European Council President

At its meeting this week the European Council is expected to elect its President for the period from 1 June 2017 to 30 November 2019. The current President Donald Tusk, a former prime-minister of Poland, is the main and until recently only candidate but his home country opposes his reelection. He is appreciated for leading EU through its on-going economic and political crises.

In a letter today (8 March) to her European counterparts the Polish Prime Minister Beata Szydlo reiterated her country’s opposition to the re-election of Donald Tusk. The letter accuses the former Polish Prime Minister of having “brutally violated” the rule of “political neutrality” necessary for his post and of being “personally involved” in a political conflict with his home country.

“We cannot allow the establishment of a dangerous precedent where a democratically elected government of a member country is politically attacked by the President of the European Council,” the letter says.

Poland declares that the reelection of Donald Tusk “against the advice of the government of his country would contradict the intergovernmental nature of the Council’s work”. Instead the Polish government presents its own candidate for the presidency of the European Council, Jacek Saryusz-Wolski, a relatively unknown member of the European parliament.

After elections in 2015, which brought the Law and Justice Party to power in Poland, the Polish government launched a number of measures which were criticized by EU as illiberal and inconsistent with European values. As Council President, Donald Tusk, has tried to make Poland change course but to no avail. But this is hardly the main reason behind Poland’s disavowal of its former Prime Minister.

As former Prime Minister from the Civic Platform Party, Tusk has been accused of whitewashing Russia’s responsibility for the Smolensk crash on 10 April 2010 when a Polish plane crashed outside Smolensk in Russia, killing the Polish president, his wife and 94 other people. No independent international investigation has since then reviewed the Russian and Polish investigations of the crash.

The internal division in Poland was already visible before the crash when the then Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk travelled to Russia to participate in a separate ceremony on 7 April 2010 in memory of the Katyn Massacre. Three days later the Polish President Lech Kaczynski from the Law & Justice Party (PiS) travelled to Russia for another memorial service.

Hardly anything that has happened in any other country can be compared with what happened to Poland in 2010. Tragic events may cause national traumas, especially when they are not solved. Lech Kaczynski’s twin brother Jaroslaw Kaczynski is now leader of the Polish government party and holds Tusk responsible for the previous inadequate investigations.

Donald Tusk will chair the European Council meeting that takes place in Brussels on 9 – 10 March. The EU leaders will look at a number of the most pressing issues, including economy, security, migration and the situation in Western Balkans. Prime Minister Muscat, representing the Maltese presidency, will be chairing the part of the meeting dealing with the election of next President.

M. Apelblat

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