The Deputy Prime Minister of Poland Jaroslaw Kaczynski (Warsaw, 72 years old) receives in his office at the Government headquarters. “No changes have been made since 1989,” he says of the room.
Ask. In the midst of the war in Ukraine, he traveled to kyiv with the heads of government of Poland, Slovenia and the Czech Republic. Why?
Answer. We wanted to show our solidarity. Poland feels closely attached to the Ukrainian people. We also wanted to know what intentions the political leadership in kyiv surrounding President Zelensky had. At the same time, we presented our ideas. Our original proposal, before the war broke out, was to hold a big demonstration in kyiv, just like in 2008 in Georgia and in 2013 in Ukraine. But the Ukrainian government did not accept it. Then came the war.
P. Immediately after the visit, he proposed a peace mission in Ukraine.
R. For that it would have been necessary for NATO, and above all the United States, to get involved. The idea was rejected.
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P. US President Joe Biden has said that Vladimir Putin cannot remain in power.
R. If President Biden had a solution to impeach Putin, I would be very happy.
P. Maybe you have it.
R. What I meant to say is that maybe President Biden knows something that I don’t.
P. Are you satisfied with NATO’s intervention in the Ukraine war?
R. NATO should do more. First of all, a peace mission. That would only be possible with Ukraine’s consent. Second, the Alliance countries should finally supply the weapons that President Zelensky is strongly calling for.
P. How do you see the role of Germany in this war?
R. I am very unhappy with the attitude of the German Government. Germany could provide more weapons. It could also speak out in the European Union in favor of an embargo on oil, not gas. For that, more time is needed. It is important to know that Russia’s income from oil is between four and five times higher than that from gas. The oil supply can be replaced, but the natural gas supply is more difficult. We must not constantly subsidize a great power like Russia with multi-million dollar payments for energy purchases. It is politically and morally inadmissible.
P. Chancellor Olaf Scholz says that is not possible, because an energy embargo would cause a recession in Europe.
R. Marshal Pilsudski, who last century fought against Russian domination in Poland, said: “You want the independence of your country in exchange for two drops of blood and two pence.” This does not work. Freedom is never cheap. It is also about defending the democratic world against Putin. Chancellor Scholz should understand. In 1918, after 123 years of division, Poland achieved its independence by fighting for it. The price was high. People were starving, cities were destroyed, and industrial production was only 14% of what it was in 1914.
P. Is Berlin too sympathetic to Russia?
R. Germany, like France, has a strong inclination towards Moscow. For years, the German government did not want to see what Russia did under Putin, and now we see what the result is. However, it was not difficult to foresee what was going to happen. But Germany always wanted to know more than anyone.
R. What role should Germany play in Europe?
R. Poland is not happy with the German role in Europe. It should be a more constructive role. The last few decades have actually been an attempt to repeat Chancellor Bismarck’s idea: Germany’s domination, but hand in hand with Russia.
P. You exaggerate.
R. Naturally, the current context is different from that of the 19th century, but the attitude is the same. Germany has no moral foundation to dominate Europe. She still hasn’t thought enough about World War II or fulfilled her financial commitments. Until now, she still does not pay Poland large sums in compensation for the destruction and death caused during the war. This issue must be a priority in our relations and we have to resolve it. To say that Germany’s contributions to the EU budget are reparation payments is a joke in bad taste. One might wonder why countries to which Germany has done nothing wrong, such as Spain or Portugal, have received, or continue to receive, aid.
P. Why that bitterness?
R. Germany has not assumed its responsibility. We have not forgotten thousands of crimes that cost the lives of about six million people, including about 2.5 million Poles.
P. Let’s go back to the Ukraine war. NATO wants to reinforce its eastern flank because of the threat from Russia. What has to happen?
R. Poland would welcome the Americans increasing their presence in Europe from the current 100,000 troops to 150,000 because of the growing threat from Russia. 75,000 should be stationed steadily on the eastern flank, i.e. on the border with Russia, with 50,000 for the Baltics and Poland alone. In future, the eastern flank must be much better protected than it has been up to now. Let’s face it: the soldiers of the US nuclear power are the most powerful element to deter Russia from an attack on NATO countries, and the one that offers us the most security.
R. Would you also be in favor of establishing one of NATO’s operational commands in the East, such as those in Brunssum, Naples and Norfolk?
R. We would like to have a large NATO operational command like the one in Brunssum, from which joint NATO operations could be planned and directed. It would be a clear signal to Moscow that the NATO leadership was also present in the East. The matter will be one of the points of future talks in the Alliance.
P. Should the US station tactical nuclear weapons in the East, just like those stationed in Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands, Italy, or Turkey, which, in a crisis, could be delivered by nuclear-capable warplanes of the respective country in close proximity? coordination with Washington?
R. When my Law and Justice party was still in opposition, I already discussed that idea with several US senators. So it seemed possible. If the Americans offered to install atomic weapons in Poland, we would be open to it. It would serve to significantly strengthen deterrence against Moscow. At the moment, the issue is not on the table, but things could change soon. The initiative should come from the Americans. But it would make sense to expand the nuclear involvement to the east flank.
P. That would be a clear violation of the NATO-Russia founding act of 1997.
R. It is a dead document. Russia began raping him in Georgia in 2008, and has continued to do so over and over again ever since.
P. You have just mentioned the Law and Justice Party that you and your brother Lech founded in 2001. What are its three pillars?
R. In the first place, solidarity as a principle of social coexistence, something that links with Catholic social doctrine. Secondly, the conviction that we need a strong national State. It is the only structure that can guarantee true democracy, the individuality of citizens, and the well-being of the entire national community. Thirdly, Europe should make use of its enormous potential and become a superpower, also military. Likewise, we demand that the Union treaties be applied to the letter and that there be a clear separation between the competences of the EU and those of the national State, as well as absolute equal treatment of the countries. There are no mature and immature democracies. What is lawful in Germany is also lawful in Poland, Portugal or Malta. The opposite approach is not only discriminatory, but simply and plainly racist.
P. Since February 24, Poland has taken in some 2.5 million refugees from Ukraine. Every EU country has praised her for it. On the other hand, the European Commission refuses to pay Poland the 36,000 million euros in aid for the coronavirus crisis due to the deficiencies of its judicial system. Is your country in an awkward position in the EU?
R. We are patriots and Europeans. We love our homeland, but we are also an important part of the EU. We have the right to benefit from the resources of the European recovery fund. All other countries except Hungary have received the initial transfers. Withholding that money is a flagrant violation of the law by the European Commission. This is one of the diseases that the Union suffers: the law is broken again and again.
P. According to the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU), especially in Poland.
R. It is not acceptable that a court like the CJEU is becoming more and more influential in the EU. It is a misunderstood form of separation of powers. Its powers should once again be explicitly regulated in an official annex to the Union Treaty. I hope that the European Commission begins to pay us the aid as established by law and stops infringing our rights.
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