Poland's ruling party leader vague on support for EU's Tusk

AP News
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Posted: May 30, 2016 11:28 AM

WARSAW, Poland (AP) — The leader of Poland's ruling party said Monday the government isn't ready to confirm whether it will support a second term for European Council head Donald Tusk.

Jaroslaw Kaczynski also accused European Union leaders of having no respect for Poland's sovereignty.

Tusk's term expires in mid-2017 but he could stay on, unless there is opposition. Tusk, a former centrist Polish prime minister, could fall victim to Poland's political infighting if the right-wing, Euroskeptic government protests.

Kaczynski said in an interview published Monday by the "Do Rzeczy" magazine that backing for Tusk is "open and not yet decided" but that Tusk recently "scored negative points" by meeting in Brussels with Poland's informal opposition leader, Mateusz Kijowski. Kijowski's civic movement, Committee for the Defense of Democracy, has repeatedly led street marches by tens of thousands of people protesting the policies introduced by Kaczynski's party.

Kaczynski, whose party is in conflict with European Union leaders, said he wants to back Poles for senior international posts, but these people "should not be hurting Poland's interests."

"If they are over there, they should not be a part in the conflicts taking place here," Kaczynski said.

"We are not guided by emotions but by interests," he said, adding that Tusk is an "able" and "agile" politician.

Kaczynski's Law and Justice party won presidential and parliamentary elections last year on promises of improving life for those feeling underprivileged. It quickly embarked on sweeping changes, some of which have drawn protests at home and censure from EU leaders, who say that Poland's rule of law and democracy are threatened and have opened a procedure that could potentially strip Poland of its EU voting rights.

Kaczynski said that the conflict with the EU is about Poland's sovereignty.

"European centers do not respect that sovereignty, which means they do not respect Poland and don't respect the Poles," he said.