Polish ideological dead end

Author : Georgiy Kuhaleyshvili

Source : 112 Ukraine

The anti-Ukrainian rhetoric of Polish officials plays into Russia's hands; it undermines the unity within the EU with regard to anti-Russian sanctions
10:20, 14 November 2017

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November 11, on the 99th anniversary of Poland's independence, a march of far right political forces was held in Warsaw. The march was dedicated to the restoration of Polish statehood in 1918. About 60 thousand people took part in the march. It was one of the largest far-right actions in Europe. Thousands of fireworks flashed in the crowd, ultranationalists dressed military uniforms of the early twentieth century, as well as banners with provocative slogans, including "Death to the enemies of the Motherland."

Related: Nationalists on march in Kyiv: Triumph of the will

The ruling "Law and Justice" party of Jaroslav Kaczynski did not take part in the march. However, the state TV company TVP called this event a "march of patriots." The authorities did not resist the event. "Law and Justice" dominates the political arena of Poland and, following the results of the parliamentary elections of 2015, formed a one-party government. This party adheres to its political course of moderate Eurosceptism, economic nationalism and protectionism. It seems that the march of ultranationalists was in the hands of the party. It is enough to pay attention to the fact that some of the slogans of the marchers repeated the position of the current authorities on various issues. The Law and Justice party is flirting with ultranationalists, one of the most active and mobile parts of the electorate, in order to create the appearance of mass support by Polish citizens of the existing political course, which the European Union does not agree with.

Related: After racist march Poland says it is ‘image problem’

Far right activists chanted purely protectionist slogans, such as: "The industry is in our hands," "Our path is nationalism." Law and Justice party advocated the expansion of the role of Polish capital in the national economy, the transfer of management of the state-owned enterprises of the fuel and energy complex to the Ministry of Economy of Poland. The party promised to stimulate the development of small and medium-sized businesses, reduce taxes for firms with a staff of less than three people up to 15%, and provide them with 40% of government orders. The economic policy of the current government is less favorable for large enterprises with foreign capital, banks and trade networks, for which it was planned to introduce new taxes and reduce their participation in state deliveries. "Law and Justice" pledged to resist the EU's course on reducing the value of coal in the energy sector. They, on the contrary, support the development of the coal mining industry in Poland, advocate reduction in the construction of wind turbines. Warsaw supports the reduction of dependence on natural gas supplies from Russia, it opposes construction of the Russian gas pipeline Nord Stream-2.

Related: Large-scale Independence March kicks off in Poland

Law and Justice party advocates a reduction in EU interference in the internal affairs of the national governments of the member countries. European Commission and German Chancellor Angela Merkel expressed disagreement with the legal reform of the current Polish government, which gives the Minister of Justice the right to dismiss judges, which, in their view, undermines the freedom of the courts and runs counter to European legislation. President of Poland Andrzej Duda believes that the threat to the existence of the EU is integration at an accelerated pace, which will lead to disengagement within the bloc. In the opinion of Deputy Foreign Minister Konrad Szymański,, Poland will not switch to the euro until the situation in the EU stabilizes.

In their slogans, far right made a reference to the problem of the migration crisis and the "open door" policy, with which the incumbent authorities do not agree. According to The New York Times, the participants of the march chanted the racist slogan "White Europe of the brotherly nations", carried signs that associated Islam with terrorism, repeated the phrase "We want God," a quotation from the patriotic song that US President Donald Trump used during the speech in Warsaw. Previously, the current government of Poland refused to host on its territory 6,5 thousand descendants from Muslim countries on quotas of the European Commission. The leader of the ruling "Law and Justice" party, Jaroslaw Kaczynski stressed that it was Germany, not Poland, which had to deal with the consequences of the "open door" policy towards refugees. He believes that there is no mechanism to ensure the safety of citizens of countries hosting refugees. Together with the refugees, Islamic extremists come into the EU. This is evidenced by the terrorist attacks that periodically occur in Paris, Brussels, Berlin, as well as in the cities of Turkey, which placed 2.5 million Syrians on its territory on mutual agreements with the EU. Kaczynski is convinced that refugees can be carriers of dangerous infections and diseases. Polish Deputy Foreign Minister Konrad Szymański believes that there is no sense in the policy pursued by Brussels on the movement of refugees to various European countries. In order to resolve the migration crisis, it is necessary to stop the flow of refugees by strengthening the external borders of the EU.

Related: Poland spreads information on alleged travel ban, resorts to blackmail, - Ukraine’s historian Vyatrovych

Polish ultranationalists did not forget about Ukraine. On one of the banners was an eloquent slogan: "We remember Lviv and Vilnius." Lviv, which was the capital of the Galicia-Volyn principality, was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, in 1919-39; it was under the rule of Poland. The question of Lviv’s belonging is a favorite topic of discussion for the Polish ultranationalists, who by their actions drive a wedge into Polish-Ukrainian relations. This is not the first anti-Ukrainian provocation in Poland. The ultranationalist organization Oboz Wielkiej Polski organized a pogrom of monuments to UPA fighters in Eastern Poland in November 2016. Last December, in Przemysl, the Eagle March was held in honor of students who took part in the Ukrainian-Polish war in 1918. The marchers wished death to Ukrainians and claimed that Lviv was a Polish city. Such provocations are often met with retaliatory actions in Ukraine. In January 2017, unknown people drew far-right symbols and insulting words on a memorial to the Polish and Ukrainian victims of Soviet repression in Bykivnia.

Related: Poland’s vice consul called Lviv "Polish city"

Polish authorities also allow themselves some anti-Ukrainian demarches. In 2016, the Polish Senate declared the Volyn tragedy "an act of genocide." On the eve of the march of ultranationalists in Warsaw, Polish Foreign Minister Witold Jan Waszczykowski announced that his country could not stand on the side of Kyiv in the conflict with Moscow, without demanding the settlement of Ukrainian-Polish historical issues. Waszczykowski suggested not to let Ukrainians in Poland support the SS Galichina division and adhere to the anti-Polish sentiments. The "Law and Justice" party is speculating on contradictory historical facts and making them part of the state ideology. Like Ukraine, Poland needs bright and memorable historical events for rallying Polish citizens. Volyn tragedy is a way to unite all Poles, regardless of ideology, around common grief (such an attempt was made in Ukraine around the Holodomor problem).

Related: Historical truth important for good relations of Ukraine, Poland, - Duda

Poland found itself in an ideological dead end. Ukraine is its military-political partner for deterring Russia's aggression. However, from the point of view of historical events, Ukraine is perceived as an enemy. "Law and Justice" Party, as well as the Ukrainian authorities, should conduct a technocratic political course devoid of any ideology and references to historical events. Thus, it would be possible not to focus attention on existing historical contradictions in relations with other states. We need to take a critical view of history and realize that during the Second World War, all the opposing parties, including the UPA, the Armia Krajowa, the units of the Third Reich and the Soviet Army, the Communist guerrillas, resorted to methods of terror.

Related: War of memorials: Relations between Ukraine and Poland deteriorated again

We cannot minimize Poland's role in supporting Ukraine's Euro-Atlantic integration and lobbying for our interests in the EU. Together with the UK, Poland is conductor of anti-Russian sanctions in the EU. It supports the territorial integrity of Ukraine. Poland is an example of a successful post-socialist state that managed to get out of the Kremlin's influence, carry out reforms and improve life of its citizens. Poland is the sixth economy in the European Union and an informal leader among the countries of Central and Eastern Europe. Poland has become a popular destination for employment and education for Ukrainians. Ukrainian migrant workers in Poland annually send about 5 billion euros to their homeland. In December 2015, Poland opened a 1 billion euro credit line to Ukraine to replenish its gold and foreign exchange reserves. Poland is the fourth trade and economic partner of Ukraine in the world. Ukrainian authorities should made certain conclusions. European countries are already tired of the instability that has not stopped since 2014in Ukraine. They are outraged that corruption is flourishing in Ukraine, and the investments of international donors have not yet yielded significant results. However, Ukraine's internal political problems do not give politicians from Poland and any other state the right to make anti-Ukrainian attacks on historical and ethnopolitical grounds.

Related: Poland to simplify employment for doctors from non-EU countries

It is not ruled out that Russia has adjusted to the action of Polish far right and has used its European agents of influence to jetting anti-Ukrainian sentiments in Poland. Hungarian far right party Jobbik, which advocates the annexation of Transcarpathia to Hungary, participated in the procession. Member of the Jobbik party, European MP Bailey Kovacs, visited the pseudo-referendum in Crimea and supported annexation of the peninsula by Russia. Jobbik party adheres to anti-emigrant and anti-Semitic sentiments. Marsh was visited by the leader of the far right party Forza Nuova ("New Force") Roberto Fiore, who is known for his speeches in support of President Putin. He supports annexation of Crimea and Russia's policy in the armed conflict in Donbas. Parties Forza Nuova and Jobbik visited Crimea in August 2014.

Related: Ukraine, Poland to address EU on Nord Stream-2 unacceptability

The movement of Młodzież Wszechpolska ("The All-Polish Youth"), the wing of the "National Movement Party", took part in the Warsaw march. Its position on Ukraine is similar to the Hungarian Jobbik. Banners of the neo-Nazi organization Obóz Narodowo-Radykalny ("National-radical camp") could be seen there too. According to Lenta, Russian media, the functionaries of this organization visited Donetsk in the summer of 2014, met with Denys Pushylin, one of the leaders of pro-Russian separatists, and expressed support for their activities. The action was attended by representatives of the Internet portal, which launched a banner against Poland's membership in NATO. Their editor-in-chief, political scientist Bartosz Bekier called the current Ukrainian government a group of people who seized power through a political coup. He organized actions in support of Donbas separatists.

Related: Waszczykowski: Ukraine has been "using" Poland for too long

Russia's agents attempted to create a picture that a large part of Polish society allegedly supports them. Apparently, they are trying to win over to their side business circles, which have lost access to the Russian market because of anti-Russian EU sanctions and Russia's retaliatory food embargo. In 2013, Poland exported half of its apple crop to Russia. The volume of fruit trade between Poland and Russia amounted to 339 million euros, vegetables – to 173 million euros. Polish agrarians suffered the greatest damage from the embargo of the Russian Federation. Polish gardens market is the third in terms of EU production, and in the pre-crisis period, producers were guided by the tastes of Russians. The anti-Ukrainian rhetoric of Polish officials plays into Russia's hands; it undermines the unity within the EU with regard to anti-Russian sanctions.

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