The ongoing deterioration of relations between the EU and Poland took a further nosedive after Polish Foreign Minister Witold Waszczykowski described the EU Council President Donald Tusk as “the icon of evil and stupidity.”
The foreign minister’s remarks, in a radio interview with Krakow’s RMF FM, marks the latest in a series of diplomatic tussles over a series of decisions taken by the Polish Government since the Law and Justice Party (PiS) came to power in 2015.
The EU has been heavily critical of changes made to the Polish Constitutional Tribunal, which Brussels claims are undemocratic and a threat to Europe’s ‘Rule of Law’ principle. The Polish Government has also drawn criticism for a crackdown on the media including — most recently — a threat to limit the media reporting of the state parliament.
The personal attack on Tusk — who was prime minister of Poland from 2007 to 2014 — reveals the depth of anger in Warsaw over interventions from the EU.
“I wish that he would stay far away from Poland. [Tusk is] the icon of evil and stupidity. We would like to have a normal democracy, that when someone wins an election, they have the right to rule, to achieve their plan and program,” Waszczykowski said.
In December 2015, the Polish Government added five ‘politically friendly’ judges to the country’s Constitutional Tribunal, in a move seen by critics as making it easier to push through legislation with less opposition.
The amendment meant that the tribunal would need a two-thirds majority to take a decision on constitutional matters instead of a simple majority. The minimum number of judges needed to make a decision was also raised from nine to 13, making it more difficult to convene a quorum.
Former Chief Justice Andrzej Rzeplinski ruled, December 2015, that many sections of the new laws were illegal. However, the Warsaw Government has ignored the ruling.
The European Commission has also said it will not recognize the appointment of the new President of the Constitutional Court — Julia Przylebska, who, with her husband, is seen as being close to the Polish President Andrzej Duda — who replaced Rzeplinski, whose term ended December 19.
“It is enshrined in Article 2 of the Treaty on European Union. The European Commission, together with the European Parliament and the Council, is responsible under the Treaties for guaranteeing the respect of the rule of law as a fundamental value of our Union and making sure that EU law, values and principles are respected,” the Commission said in a statement, December 21.
The Commission has given the Polish Government until the end of February 2017 to resolve the issues or face the removal of its voting rights in the EU — a sanction never before exercised in the EU.