Poland Ready to Fight Allies for Sovereignty, Kaczynski Says

  • Leader says foreign, domestic criticism blocks independence
  • Law & Justice ready to ‘fight’ opposition of EU, NATO partners

Poland is ready to fight a “tough battle” against its closest allies to achieve full sovereignty by ending opposition to its government’s actions at home and abroad, ruling party leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski said in an Independence Day speech.

In a swipe at the European Union, which has taken unprecedented steps to uphold democratic standards it says Poland’s government is undermining, Kaczynski said authorities will continue to “restore” the country’s independence. Tens of thousands of people took part in competing marches in Warsaw on Friday in a show of the growing divide that emerged since his Law & Justice party won elections a year ago.

Jaroslaw Kaczynski

Photographer: Janek Skarzynski/AFP via Getty Images

“We want to make Poland a truly sovereign nation, whose actions -- taken in its own interest -- are accepted by others,” Kaczynski said in Warsaw. “For years this wasn’t the case, but now we must fight this tough battle and we will, against our partners in the EU and other partners, such as in NATO, as well as domestic ones who still think in old-fashioned and harmful ways.”

Kaczynski, the power behind Prime Minister Beata Szydlo’s cabinet, is pursuing a sweeping political agenda in Poland spurred by the type of anti-establishment sentiment that’s fed support for Brexit and Donald Trump. Holding no position other than lawmaker and party chief, he’s pushed through the biggest changes in the country of 38 million since it overthrew communism nearly three decades ago. The government has fallen out with its partners in Brussels and the U.S. over democratic standards, triggering the country’s first-ever ratings downgrade and undercutting the zloty.

President’s Choice

In central Warsaw, nationalists, anti-Fascists and those seeking to restore democratic order took to the streets separately in carefully choreographed marches to avoid the violence that has marred numerous Independence Day celebrations in past years.

President Andrzej Duda, a former Law & Justice lawmaker, sent a representative to greet the gathering of nationalists, many of whom marched with masked faces, waving burning road flares and signing songs about hanging communists.

At the heart of the dispute over Polish democracy and rule of law, Szydlo’s government has refused to publish two Constitutional Tribunal rulings that strike down sweeping changes at the top court, preventing them from taking effect. Duda hasn’t sworn in three justices appointed to the panel by the previous parliament, triggering the EU’s checks into whether Poland is backsliding on the bloc’s values.

“We are on this path, and this is only the beginning,” Kaczynski said. “But even this means a lot.”

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