N. Peter Kramer’s Weekly Column
Last week the heads of government of Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovenia took the train to Kiev. A courageous statement of support for beleaguered Ukraine. The travelling companions were Polish Prime Minister Morawiecki , Prime Minister Jansa of Slovenia, dubbed the mini-Trump, and the Czech Prime Minister Fiala.
It can go fast. Just a week before the Polish government was in the dock for curtailing independent justice, LGBT-free zones in some cities and pushing-back Afghan migrants to the Belarus border. But now it is war and Poland is a frontline state. With open arms Poland takes in hundreds of thousands of Ukrainian refugees. Russian bombs fell not far from the Polish border. Economic pain is imminent. In face of all this disaster the Polish government feels empowered by the events: for years it is warning against Putin!
According to the latest reports, the European Commission will no longer make a fuss about disbursing Poland and Hungary of the billions of from the corona recovery fund despite major concerns about the rule of law and European (read: EU) values in these two EU member states. Legally the path has been open since the EU Court of Justice rejected complaints that the link is unconstitutional. But no worries. The Polish foreign minister said: ‘this is a war situation; we have to put all the little things aside now’.
And yet? On February 25, in Krakow a judge was suspended for 30 days by the president of her court. She wanted, as it should be, to apply EU law in a concrete case. Not allowed by the Polish government! And there is more. On March 10, the Polish Constitutional Tribunal declared a provision of the European Convention on Human Rights to be contrary to the Polish constitution.
War or not, in Poland the dismantling of the rule of law and democracy continues shamelessly. But ‘it is war; we have to put little things aside now.’