September 30, 2010

Beware 'neo-imperial' Russia, says Kaczynski

Today @ 18:53 CET

EUOBSERVER / BRUSSELS - Former Polish prime minister and leader of Poland's main opposition party, Jaroslaw Kaczynski, has warned of Russia's "neo-imperial" foreign policy to all 738 MEPs in Brussels and to dozens of ambassadors.

The message, in the form of an as-yet-unpublished opinion piece due to appear shortly in the Wall Street Journal, accuses Russia of "systematically" trying to "re-acquire its sphere of interest" at a time when the US is paying less attention to Europe.

Mr Kaczynski (l) on a visit to Brussels during his time at the head of the Polish government (Photo:

"There are more signs that there is increasingly less America in Europe. This is bad for both sides. Unfortunately, this is taking place at a time when Moscow's neo-imperial foreign policy causes no objections from the major playmakers in Europe and the US."

It criticises EU states for allegedly putting bilateral business interests with Russia ahead of EU values and strategic considerations.

"Such attempts are simply a gift to those states that do not recognise democratic values and human rights. They [Russia] may appear to be more attractive business partners but they do not adhere to the values and standards that dominate the Euro-Atlantic political sphere."

It also defends the idea of national vetoes against EU policy - a tactic for which the Kaczynski-era Poland became notorious in Brussels in 2006 and 2007.

Referring to Belgium and Germany, Mr Kaczynski wrote: "Two out of three EU countries that use the instrument of veto most often are the 'A students' of European integration ... This means that it is possible to love European unity and, at the same time, creatively oppose some of its aspects."

The opinion piece was also mailed out to MEPs by Mr Kaczynski's Law and Justice party colleague, Ryszard Legutko, who sits with the European Conservatives and Reformists group in the EU parliament.

Former Polish foreign minister Anna Fotyga also sent it to all the EU member states' embassies in Warsaw as well as to the Polish missions of the US, Canada, Israel, Switzerland, Norway, Ukraine, Belarus, Moldova, Azerbaijan, Georgia and Armenia.

Mr Kaczynski lost the presidential election in Poland in June to the liberal-centrist and Russia-friendly politician Bronislaw Komorowski.

The snap vote took place after his twin brother and former president Lech Kaczynski died in a plane crash in Russia in April. The Russian authorities' solemn reaction prompted a short-lived wave of pro-Russian sentiment in Poland, mixed with conspiracy theories about an FSB plot.