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Debt crisis hardens Eurosceptics’ antipathy in Poland

Opposition leader Jarosław Kaczynski campaigned for EU membership, but has been outraged by calls for federalism

In Poland, Euroscepticism is the preserve of the conservative Law and Justice party, and its leader Jarosław Kaczynski. Until last year, he could have been described as a mild sceptic, but the debt crisis has amplified his antipathy.

Kaczynski was particularly angered by the November 2011 Berlin speech of the Polish foreign minister, Radosław Sikorski, in which he called for Germany to save the eurozone and proposed creating a European federation.

“That man had no right to offer Germany leadership in the European Union,” Kaczynski stated after the speech. “What he did is offer Poland an inferior position, the kind we had for decades, but that should not be the aim of Polish foreign policy, to return to a pre-1989 situation.”

The call for largesse to rescue the European south riled the former prime minister: “We shouldn’t pay for Greece. We were supposed to sit at the European table and feast. But now we are on the menu.”

Before Poland joined the EU, Kaczynski strongly supported joining the bloc, saying in a television spot before a referendum on the matter: “We support a strong Poland. That’s why we are calling for a yes vote for Poland’s accession into the EU.” He said than that a negative decision would “gladden [Poland's] enemies”. Here he was obviously referring to the Russians.

When Kaczynski’s party won power in 2005, he didn’t change his rhetoric, even suggesting in 2006 that a European army should be created.

During his two years in power, Kaczynski usually added to his slogan “Poland in Europe” the words “as an independent country”. This was meant to calm the extremely conservative part of his party’s electorate, his anti-Europe coalition partners the League of Polish Families, and Father Tadeusz Rydzyk, the head of the ultra-conservative Catholic radio station Radio Maryja.

The powerful priest considers the EU to be pure evil: abortion, euthanasia and gay parades. “In the west, I detect mostly the power of Satan,” he said on air in 2002. Before the referendum on whether Poland should join the EU or not, Rydzyk said the bloc wanted “to strangle Poland, take its land and make it a subjugated republic”.

But after Poland joined the EU, the situation of its farmers improved as a result of the agricultural subsidies. Rydzyk himself applied for EU subsidies and said on his radio station that Poles should “take the EU money. That is a patriotic obligation, to take as much as possible away from them.” © 2012 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds