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Juncker and Szydlo speak ahead of Poland debate

Met dank overgenomen van EUobserver (EUOBSERVER), gepubliceerd op woensdag 13 januari 2016, 9:29.
Auteur: Eszter Zalan

EU Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker and Polish prime minister Beata Szydlo had a lengthy telephone call on Tuesday (12 January) evening, ahead of a discussion among EU commissioners on controversial recent laws on Poland's constitutional tribunal and state media.

The 45-minute phone conversation is seen as an attempt to calm tensions between the EU executive and Warsaw following an exchange of letters in which the commission warned that Poland could be in breach of EU principles.

On Wednesday deputy foreign minister Konrad Szymanski will brief members of the European Parliament, which is due to debate Poland's latest moves next week, Reuters reported.

PM Szydlo is expected to take part in the debate.

The 28-member commission will hold a discussion on Wednesday (13 January) on recent events in Poland, where critics say the new government of the Law and Justice (PiS) party appointed friendly judges to the constitutional tribunal and put the media under tighter government control.

It could decide to put Poland under a monitoring procedure, but will probably engage in more correspondence with Warsaw before deciding on any measures.

Juncker last week said EU leaders were not “bashing Poland”.

EU diplomats warn that pressure from Brussels could be politically counterproductive, fuelling nationalist and eurosceptic forces in Poland.

One Polish politician who is feeling the heat is European Council president Donald Tusk, a former Polish prime minister.

Tusk, meeting with Socialist MEPs on Tuesday, said the EP should avoid taking action that would hurt Polish citizens.

"The overwhelming majority of Poles are still pro-European, much more than in many other countries, and ready to defend the foundations of democracy. They need your support but it must be adequate to the situation," Tusk said.

“The EU has a right and an obligation to engage in a tough and open dialogue with the authorities of every EU member state where the rule of law and norms of democracy may be violated," Tusk said.

“And I hope that your words and your actions will help to mitigate the behaviour of Kaczynski`s party. But at the same time, in no way should they negatively affect my country and of course Polish citizens,” Tusk added, referring to the leader of the PiS party.

Before moving to Brussels, he served as prime minister of Poland from 2007 until 2014, from the conservative, pro-European Civic Platform party, which was defeated at the ballot boxes by PiS last October.

“Personally, I am very critical of many actions taken by the new authorities in Poland for many reasons,” Reuters quoted Tusk as saying.

“As you know, to most politicians representing the new power (in Warsaw) I am Public Enemy number 1. Not only because I am in Brussels,” he said, referring to the long-standing personal antipathy between himself and Kaczynski.

Eurovision concern

Poland’s controversial media law could put the country’s participation at this year’s Eurovision song contest in jeopardy.

The contest is run by the European Broadcasting Union (EBU), an alliance of various public service media groups in Europe warned Poland in a critical letter in December expressing “dismay” at the media law.

“To preserve the integrity and independence of public service media as a symbol of a free and democratic country, we ask you in the strongest possible terms not to sign this measure into law,” Ingrid Deltenre, EBU director general wrote to Polish president Andrzej Duda.

EBU may force Poland out of the popular competition taking place in May.

The new Polish administration might not be a Eurovision fan anyhow,

The Polish government has recently appointed Jacek Kurski as the new president of public broadcaster, who reportedly called Austrian drag queen Conchita Wurst, won the competition in 2014, an act of "cultural aggression from the West".

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