By attacking Polish gov, Tusk attacks Poland - PM


2017-11-19 21:36 aktualizacja: 2018-09-30, 15:12
 Fot. Rafał Guz
Fot. Rafał Guz
European Council head Donald Tusk is using his position to attack the Polish government, PM Beata Szydlo said in response to Tusk's Sunday tweet, which, among others, referred to Poland's ongoing history remembrance conflict with Ukraine.

In his tweet, Tusk, a former Polish prime minister, points to Poland's mounting isolation in the EU following its rule of law conflict with the EC over court reforms, its "harsh dispute" with Ukraine over historical commemorations and the Polish government's attempts to curb media freedom. Tusk suggested that the Polish ruling party's government strategy lay too close to the Kremlin's policy to "sleep peacefully".


"Alert! Harsh dispute with Ukraine, isolation in the European Union, a departure from the rule of law and court independence, an attack on the NGO sector and free media - is this a Law and Justice strategy or the Kremlin's plan? Too similar to sleep peacefully", Tusk wrote.


Commenting the tweet later on Sunday, Szydlo observed that Tusk, as the European Council head, "has done nothing" for Poland, and accused him of using his official position to launch attacks on Warsaw.


"As European Council chairman Donald Tusk has done nothing for Poland. Today he is making use of his position to attack the Polish government, to attack Poland", Szydlo said.


On Wednesday, the European Parliament adopted a resolution on the rule of law in Poland, in which it urged Warsaw to observe the fundamental rights and rule of law principles enshrined in EU treaties. The EP also started its own procedure aimed at triggering Article 7 of the EU Treaty against Poland.


The resolution stressed that the current situation in Poland carried a risk of infringing upon EU values and noted the recent changes in Polish judiciary legislation might threaten the independence of courts as well as weaken the rule of law in Poland.


The EP expressed regret that Poland had not managed to find a compromise solution on proper functioning of the country's Constitutional Tribunal, expressing concerns over its independence and legitimacy as well as problems with the publication and execution of all its rulings. This, according to the resolution, undermines the Polish constitution, the principles of democracy and the rule of law in Poland.


On Saturday, the Ambassador of Poland in Kiev, Jan Pieklo, was summoned to the Ukrainian Ministry of Foreign Affairs after the secretary of Ukraine's Commemoration Commission, Svyatoslav Sheremet was denied entry to Poland.

The head of the Polish Foreign Ministry's press office told PAP the decision to bar Sheremeta was the result of the Ukrainian Institute of National Remembrance issuing a ban in April on the search and exhumation of remains of Polish war victims on Ukrainian territory. "Propagating criminal ideology, including Nazism, is forbidden in Poland", Lompart said in a conversation with PAP.

Recently, Poland's Foreign Minister Witold Waszczykowski announced Poland would amend its policy towards Ukraine over historical truth.


Without giving any names, he said Warsaw was putting procedures in place to ban people with extreme anti-Polish views from entering the country, while there would also be "consequences" for those who put "administrative" obstacles against Poland's Institute for National Remembrance (IPN).


The latter had been searching Ukraine for Polish graves and remains, such as of the victims of the Volhynia Massacre (see: NOTE), as well as renovating Polish memorials.


However, in April, Kiev ordered the IPN to stop its activities in Ukraine. The ban came after authorities in Hruszowice (southeastern Poland) removed an illegally-erected monument to the UPA (the Ukrainian Insurgent Army). The UPA was a World War II nationalist military formation which carried out the Volhynia Massacre.


In October, Polish Deputy Prime Minister, Culture and National Heritage Minister Piotr Glinski and IPN deputy head Krzysztof Szwagrzyk visited Ukraine, where they suggested that decisions on permits for searches and exhumations should be made at the top, inter-ministerial level. However, as Szwagrzyk reported later, the proposal had not been viewed favourably. (PAP)



NOTE: In 1943-44 the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA) (co-founded by Ukrainian national hero Stepan Bandera with his Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (UON) faction) mass-slaughtered 35,000–60,000 Polish people in the then eastern-Polish region of Volhynia, and 25,000–40,000 in nearby Eastern Galicia in a purge aimed to cleanse the areas of their Polish population, known as the Volhynia Massacre. The full victim count of the massacre is still debated.


On 22 January, 2010, Ukraine's outgoing President Viktor Yushchenko awarded Bandera the posthumous title of Hero of Ukraine, which was condemned by the European Parliament as well as Polish, Russian and Jewish organizations. The following state head, Viktor Yanukovych, declared the title illegal and in January 2011 it was officially annulled. In April 2015, the Supreme Council of Ukraine (Ukrainian parliament - PAP) passed a bill lauding, among others, UPA soldiers as "fighters for the freedom and independence of Ukraine" and forbidding the use of the word "genocide" in the UPA-UON context. The draft of the act was introduced by Yuriy Shukhevych, a son of a UPA commander.


Later in 2016, Ukraine blocked the launch and commercial screenings of Polish historical film "Volhynia" ("Wolyn" - PAP) telling the story of the massacre of the Polish people at the hands of Ukrainians.


On July 11-12, 1943, the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA) altogether attacked 150 Polish villages in Poland's former eastern region of Volhynia. About 100,000 Polish nationals were killed in this wave of mass murders.


The killing of 173 Polish citizens in the village of Paroslaw is considered to be the first act of the genocidal violence in Volhynia.


The Volhynia Massacre was carried out by the Organisation of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN) – Stepan Bandera's faction, UPA and the Ukrainian people, who murdered their Polish neighbours.


The killings intensified when in March and April 1943, many Ukrainian policemen ceased cooperating with the Germans and joined the UPA. Many of them had earlier participated in the extermination of Jews.


The crimes intensified again in July 1943, when the UPA murdered about 10,000-11,000 Polish people in the districts of Volodymyr-Volynskiy, Kovel, Horokhiv and Lutsk. The crimes were exceptionally cruel; the people were burnt alive, dropped into wells, attacked with hatchets and pierced with pitchforks, and women were raped. The Polish people were murdered in 1,865 sites in total.


"The Volhynia Slaughter" not only refers to mass murders committed in the Volhynia area, but also in the Lviv, Tarnopol and Stanislavov provinces, as well as in the Lublin and Polesie provinces.


The UPA, led by Roman Shukhevych, began its "anti-Polish" operation in Western Galicia in April 1944. It was not supposed to be as drastic as in Volhynia - the Ukrainians only wanted the Polish people to leave their houses under the threat of death. In case of denial they were only to kill the men, but the reality turned out to be different.


The nationalists also killed mixed Polish-Ukrainian families, Ukrainians who refused to participate in the killings and those who helped save the Polish people. "The Book of the Righteous of the Eastern Borderlands", published by Poland's Institute of National Remembrance (IPN), states that Ukrainians saved 2,527 Polish people.(PAP)