Polish, EU diplomats meet over disputed media, court laws

AP News
Posted: Jan 08, 2016 8:57 AM
Polish, EU diplomats meet over disputed media, court laws

WARSAW, Poland (AP) — Poland's government sought to quell concerns within the European Union that its new laws on state media and on the constitutional court threatened democracy and media freedoms.

The new media law, which took effect Friday, ended the terms of state radio and television heads and transferred the authority to appoint top state media executives to the treasury minister from a special committee. The conservative Law and Justice party that took power in November argues state media cow-towed to the previous government and lacked objectivity.

The minister immediately appointed right-wing politician and journalist, former European Parliament member, Jacek Kurski, to head the state TV. Kurski said he will look to put state TV at the heart of the country's national values and traditions.

Poland's deputy foreign minister and the European Commission's top diplomat in the country met Friday to discuss the EU's concerns over the legislation, which is due to be replaced by mid-2016 with a sweeping law that will give the government full control of state radio, television and the PAP state news agency. The new law will not cover Poland's private broadcasters.

The commission's envoy to Poland Marzenna Guz-Vetter said the talks were "very good, matter-of-fact" and helped clarify many doubts.

Deputy Foreign Minister Konrad Szymanski said it was "relatively easy" to explain Poland's position.

They also discussed recent legislation that introduced changes to the Constitutional Tribunal, a top court.

The European Commission will debate Poland's rule of law on Jan. 13.