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    European Council President Donald Tusk addresses the media on the eve of a European Union leaders summit in Valletta, Malta February 2, 2017.

    Poland's Law and Justice Pledge No Support for 'Icon of Evil' Tusk Reelection

    © REUTERS / Yves Herman
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    The leader of Poland's ruling Law and Justice Party (PiS) has said Poland will not support Donald Tusk for a second term as European Council President, in a further continuation of the standoff between Warsaw and the European Union.

    Jaroslaw Kaczynski lashed out at Tusk in a radio interview, saying it was "not in Poland's interest" for "someone like that" to sit as President, as Tusk had damaged Poland's national interests. Referring to a plan backed by Tusk that would've seen EU member states fined for failing to accept refugees in a settlement plan, Kaczynski said if Poland hadn't helped block the move, the country would've received a fine of 3 billion euros.

    It would "be strange" for Poland to accept "such a person" on that basis, he added.

    Jaroslaw Kaczynski leader of the opposition Law and Justice party in this weekend's general elections speaks at a party convention in Warsaw
    Jaroslaw Kaczynski, leader of the Polish Law and Justice party

    The news means Poland is the only EU state actively opposed to a second term for the former Polish Prime Minister, whose current term terminates in May. The question of a second possible term for Tusk is expected to be discussed at an EU summit in early March.

    Poland and the EU have been at odds since PiS made controversial changes to the country's Constitutional Tribunal in 2015, blunting its powers in the process. The next year, PiS were given until October to "take appropriate action" to address "systemic threats" to the rule of law or face the Commission invoking Article 7, which strips a member state of its voting rights within all EU institutions. This was subsequently extended to the end of February 2017, as the Polish government refused to comply with orders.

    Tusk has repeatedly warned "the European model of democracy" is being undermined in Poland, which poses a "strategic risk" to the EU itself, although his repeated censures have provoked harsh responses from the Polish government. In January 2017, Foreign Minister Witold Waszczykowski described the EU Council President Donald Tusk as "the icon of evil and stupidity."

    "I wish that he would stay far away from Poland. We would like to have a normal democracy when someone wins an election, they have the right to rule, to achieve their plan and program," Waszczykowski said.

    A month later, Waszczykowski again laid into Tusk, condemning the fact that the President has not visited his home country for talks with the government while seeking reelection. The "absurd" Tusk, Waszczykowski said, "is behaving grotesquely, ignoring his own government." If Tusk wished to receive Poland's blessing for another term, Waszczykowski said he must come to Poland for "a serious conversation" with authorities about his record as president. 

    However, beyond political differences, the rift between Tusk and Kaczynski could run deeper. Tusk was Polish PM in 2010 when Kaczynski's twin brother, President Lech Kaczynski, died in a plane crash near Smolensk, Russia, along with many other high-ranking state and military officials.

    Kaczynski has long said Tusk bears moral responsibility for the tragedy, accusing him of not assuring better security procedures. Reports have suggested Kaczynski told German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Poland might issue a European arrest warrant for Tusk over his alleged role in the crash.

    In an apparent response on February 14, Tusk tweeted on both his Polish and English account, with the latter tweet being deleted:

    "Is it nice to report on a Pole to the Germans like that?"


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    power struggle, politics, election, European Council, European Union, Witold Waszczykowski, Jaroslaw Kaczynski, Donald Tusk, Europe, Poland
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