Foreign Policy debate
The annual debate on the issues of Poland's foreign policy and the state of the negotiations with the European Union took place in the Polish parliament, or Sejm, on 6 June. The debate's timing was
tense, due to the upcoming parliamentary elections on 23 September.
Foreign Affairs Minister Wladysław Bartoszewski said that his suggestions and estimates would hopefully be taken into account in the next parliamentary term. He also talked about the challenges Polish
foreign policy faced. He thanked Germany's Chancellor Gerhard Schröder and German industry for making possible the payment of compensations to former slave laborers of the Third Reich.
What dominated thoughout the discussions was the issue of Polish attempts to join the EU. "Progress in negotiations is more and more dependent on whether the government is able to make decisions that are politically difficult. Such decisions should have support of all political groups in the parliament and of President Aleksander Kwaśniewski." Therefore "a proposition to establish a permanent consulting body between president, government, and opposition" had been put forward, said Bartoszewski.
Commenting on the recent confusion caused by the head of the European Integration Committee Jacek Saryusz-Wolski (who said Poland would not join the EU in 2003, whereas Prime Minister Jerzy Buzek claimed the opposite, all to the astonishment of Romano Prodi), Bartoszewski said: "All statement from Polish negotiators and other representatives of government administration must necessarily be consulted with the Prime Minister and the Foreign Affairs Minister."
Chief negotiator Jan Kulakowski talked about setbacks of negotiations with the EU and he announced would negotiate thorny issues of land purchase by foreigners in the last part of the negotiations, where all other difficult problems would be negotiated. Kulakowski also said that he would like to know whether EU citizens would face the same restrictions in terms of labor as Poles would in EU member states.
Poland's NATO role
As for NATO-related issues, Foreign Minister Bartoszewski would be actively involved in the Alliance's actions and adopt its army to NATO standards. Poland will also support NATO ambitions of Slovakia, Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia. Bartoszewski assured that Poland would promote Ukraine's involvement in NATO's operations as well as its integration into the organization's structures.
Bartoszewski stressed Poland's role in the shaping of the NATO policy towards Russia. Among the most important partner countries he mentioned the USA and Germany, as well as France. In terms of eastern policy, Bartoszewski emphasized the need to support the transition processes in Ukraine and to get the USA and the EU involved in the country's progress towards democracy and stabilization.
Belarus, meanwhile, was called "a difficult experience of our eastern policy."
The MPs' debate that ensued centred mainly around EU issues. Below are excerpts of the speeches from the leaders of the most important parties.
Leszek Miller (Democratic Left Alliance): "Four years ago Poland was the leader of the candidate countries. Today, the negotiations strategy is falling apart due to growing internal problems of social and economical nature. The first two years of the current government were irreversibly lost in terms of European integration. A question appears in the context of the recent misunderstanding between the Prime Minister and one of his ministers: who really speaks on behalf of the government and does anyone coordinate Polish integration policy?"
Marian Krzaklewski (Solidarity Election Action): "In the opinion of Solidarity-related forces, the seizing of power by the post-communist SLD may be a danger to continuation of free Poland's foreign policy."
Bronisław Geremek (Freedom Union): "Negotiations cannot be treated like a race. The Government is not without guilt here, if it announced closing 11 negotiations chapters in but half a year. [We] should give up unimportant discussions whether negotiations are to be hard or soft, fast or slow. Negotiations must be effective."
Jan Olszewski (Movement for Reconstruction of Poland): "One has to consider whether the EU has real means which would enable fast enlargement. It is obvious that there will be no such mean until 2006 and it is at least dubious whether they will be available after
The Civic Platform, the political group led by Maciej Plazynski, Andrzej Olechowski and Donald Tusk introduced a novelty on Poland's political scene: pre-elections to single out candidates for the coming parliamentary elections. Pre-elections were held in several cities across the country in an atmosphere of fiesta and sometimes controversy.
According to Civic Platform leaders, some 20,000 people took part in the Warsaw pre-elections in which Paweł Piskorski (Warsaw's president), Bronisław Komorowski (defense minister) and Zbigniew Eysmont (MP from the People's Conservative Party, part of the Civic Platform) were elected.
In the pre-elections in Sieradz (central Poland) people showed their disappointment towards people associated with Solidarity Election Action who only recently joined Civic Platform: Piotr Zak suffered an indisputable defeat.
Controversy surrounded pre-elections in Toruń where 12 candidates protested the results as Jacek Janiszewski allegedly organized buses for voters—many of whom were intoxicated—from farther parts of the area to secure victory. As a result, pre-elections in Toruń (and also in Plock) were annulled and leaders of the Civic Platform will compile lists of candidates themselves.
Wojtek Kość, 8 June 2001
Polska Agencja Prasowa
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