“This is a barrier against representatives of PiS in Poland who systematically attack the rule of law and free media,” said German politician Manfred Weber on ZDF television. The President of the European People’s Party had previously criticized Poland and Hungary for their opposition to refugee relocation. Weber’s words have outraged politicians from the ruling camp, and Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki has called for a televised debate with the German politician.
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German channel ZDF released an interview with Manfred Weber, a Member of the European Parliament and the leader of the European People’s Party (EPP), on Sunday.
Civic Platform(Platforma Obywatelska- PO), the main PiS’ opponent in the upcoming election, of former Polish Prime Minister and President of European Council Donald Tusk, is also member of the European People’s Party.
“Every party must accept the rule of law,” said the President of the European People’s Party (EPP) in the European Parliament. “This is a barrier against representatives of PiS in Poland who systematically attack the rule of law and free media,” he explained in German media.
“Those who accept it can be democratic partners—political rivals, but democratic partners. And all others who do not adhere to it, like the German AfD, Le Pen in France, or PiS in Poland, are our opponents and will be fought by us,” said the EPP President.
Weber has previously attacked the ruling Law and Justice party. In June, in an interview with ZDF, he spoke about the fear propagated by Poland’s PiS and Hungary’s Fidesz. “I think we can no longer convince either of them,” Weber said about Mateusz Morawiecki and Viktor Orban. “They need a topic to conduct political propaganda in their own country,” the German politician argued, referring to the strong opposition of Poland and Hungary to refugee relocation.
During the interview, Weber criticized the German far-right party AfD for “declaring war on Europe.” He also discussed the possibility of cooperation with the Italian party Brothers of Italy led by Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni. Weber stated that there are no current discussions about the inclusion of this party into the EPP and emphasized that Meloni would have to prove that “she stands for this Europe” first.
In this context, he outlined three “red lines”—conditions that a potential coalition partner must fulfill: standing with Ukraine, being willing to help shape Europe rather than overturn it, and respecting the rule of law.
It was with the third condition that Weber referenced PiS. “This is a protective barrier against representatives of PiS in Poland who systematically attack the rule of law and free media,” he said.
“I have formulated three conditions for any cooperation: being for Europe, being for Ukraine, and being for the rule of law. This way, we are building a firewall against PiS,” Weber said in an earlier interview with the liberal-conservative newspaper “FAZ.”
Weber’s remarks prompted a response from Mateusz Morawiecki, the Prime Minister of Poland.
“This is the last straw. As the Prime Minister of Polishgovernment, representing the parliamentary majority elected in democratic elections, I will not allow the defamation of choices of Polish people. Manfred Weber, the German leader of the European party to which PO belongs, listed PiS among the groups that will be fought against. He called us his enemies. This is another such statement. Enough of this,” he emphasized.
“If Germany openly admits that it will interfere in elections in Poland, let them do it openly. Mr. Weber, please do not use your deputy Donald Tusk as a pawn. Please come forward for a debate. You accuse us of breaching democratic rules? Please say it to millions of Poles in a televised confrontation. I invite you to a debate on the 2nd of October,” said Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, referring to Weber’s comments.
He announced that he would send the details in the coming days.
Paweł Jabłoński, Undersecretary of State at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, used the interview with the German politician to attack opposition politicians.
He wrote on his Twitter account: “Do you think Civic Platform will react, or will they, as usual, join their German colleagues/employers/sponsors?”
At the same time, he expressed support for the actions of the United Right, coalition of right-wing parties under the PiS leadership. “We have the courage to openly discuss the fact that in certain matters, our interests may sometimes clash.”
Beat Szydło, former Polish Prime Minister, also commented on Weber’s statements.
“Manfred Weber, the German head of Donald Tusk’s political faction, has officially declared that the Polish government is an ‘enemy’ that will be ‘fought against.’ Weber’s statement is an extreme example of audacity, even for a German. And it violates all the rules that apply in European politics,” she wrote.
“It’s August, maybe Herr Weber doesn’t know it, but we, Poles, happen to remember the terrible crimes committed by the Germans in Warsaw just 79 years ago. In Wola alone, within a few hours, the Germans killed 50,000 Poles. German criminals were never punished. Instead, they enjoyed respect in Germany for many years after the war and sometimes even held public positions. That’s the German ‘rule of law’ for you. We know it well in Poland. So, Herr Weber, leave Poland alone,” she added.
Opposition MPs were reluctant to comment on the German politician’s words.
Piotr Zgorzelski, Deputy Chairman of the Sejm (Polish Parliament), expressed his opinion that while Weber’s intentions may have been good, they do more harm than good.
“These are internal matters, and the involvement of politicians from other countries, even if well-intentioned, can be detrimental,” stated Zgorzelski.
He also drew a parallel with Jarosław Kaczyński’s remarks, the leader of Poland’s ruling PiS party, who expressed satisfaction with Vox’s favorable outcome in the Spanish elections.
“I don’t like it when politicians from other countries intervene in our election campaign, just as I wouldn’t like it if Jarosław Kaczyński expressed joy if the Vox party won in Spain.”
Krzysztof Gawkowski from the Left downplayed the statement by the German politician, arguing that he wasn’t attempting to interfere in Poland’s internal affairs but only conveying support for the Civic Platform and its leader, Donald Tusk.
“It’s known that Western politicians shouldn’t meddle in Polish politics, and if someone utters some words, they utter them. Western social democrats also supported the Left. They came to us before the elections, and we met. What’s so extraordinary about it? I remind you that PiS politicians also meet with politicians from other friendly factions,” said Krzysztof Gawkowski on “Sygnały dnia” on PR1.
The Left politician stated that he “doesn’t believe” Weber is interfering in Polish politics. Gawkowski interpreted his words as a show of support for Donald Tusk.
“If a faction friendly to Donald Tusk says they will keep their fingers crossed for him, or they will assist him—let them help. What’s the big deal? The campaign will be conducted here on the ground. Manfred Weber will come here and say he supports Civic Platform? Well, then he will come. And, for example, Pedro Sánchez, the Spanish Prime Minister, will also come to Poland […] and he might say: I support the Polish Left. Is that interference?” he stated.
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