Polish minister to meet EU diplomat over its sour comments

AP News
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Posted: Jan 05, 2016 11:32 AM
Polish minister to meet EU diplomat over its sour comments

WARSAW, Poland (AP) — Poland's foreign minister on Tuesday requested to meet the European Union representative in his country as tensions are mounting between Brussels and Warsaw over planned changes to the nation's media law and other reforms.

Foreign Minister Witold Waszczykowski said he wants to meet Friday to discuss "strange and unclear statements" by EU commissioners concerning the changes in the law that are part of sweeping reforms that the new conservative ruling Law and Justice party is speedily introducing to many state bodies.

The law, which gives the government control over state radio and TV, is expected to be approved shortly by President Andrzej Duda who is aligned with the ruling party.

Some EU leaders have expressed alarm, saying that Poland's media freedom is threatened. On Tuesday, EU human rights commissioner, Nils Muiznieks, appealed to Duda not to sign the law.

The European Commission is to debate Poland's rule of law on Jan. 13, a step that could eventually result in Poland losing its EU voting rights on matters that concern the entire 28-nation bloc.

Waszczykowski said he wants to meet the EU representative in Warsaw to discuss the change in relations. He also wants to hear the reasoning behind a call by Commissioner Guenther Oettinger to put Poland under a special monitoring mechanism and discuss a request for an explanation of the changes by European Commission deputy head, Frans Timmermans.

"I want to talk about the strange and unclear statements of the commissioners who are passing judgment on Poland based on media reports rather than on diplomatic channels," Waszczykowski said.

The relationship has soured quickly between the EU and Poland, which for years was considered a success story within the bloc for its building of democracy and its strong economic growth.

But the liberal, pro-EU Civic Platform that ruled for the past eight years lost presidential and parliamentary elections last year amid accusations that large social groups were excluded from participating in the economic success. Law and Justice won on promises it will work to remove the inequalities.

Duda will have a chance to discuss the situation when he travels to Brussels on Jan. 18 to meet EU President Donald Tusk, who was the head of Poland's previous government before taking the EU job in December 2014. Duda is also to meet NATO head Jens Stoltenberg to discuss the agenda for the alliance summit to be held in Warsaw July 8-9.