Donald Tusk and Radosław Sikorski at the “Conference on the Future of Europe”. Discussion on international politics

Donald Tusk and Radosław Sikorski took part in the “Conference on the Future of Europe” organized at the European Solidarity Center in Gdańsk. The former prime minister said that “the European Union was and is a synonym of peace and freedom”. – A Union divided, where all or at least some will renounce liberal, democratic values, sooner or later will be a place of catastrophe – he added. The PO MP stated that in order to strengthen the sense of European identity in Polish society, one cannot remain indifferent to the lies about the EU. – When we hear lies, distortions, we have to protest. Because when a lie takes root, it affects the opinion – he added.

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On Sunday, the “Conference on the Future of Europe” was held at the European Solidarity Center in Gdańsk, attended by the chairman of the Civic Platform, former chairman of the European Council, Donald Tusk, and MEP of that party, former head of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Radosław Sikorski. The meeting was opened by Basil Kerski, director of the ECS.

Sikorski: there is no better place to discuss the future of Europe than Gdańsk

At the beginning of his speech, Radosław Sikorski referred to the historical context of the place where the conference was held.

As he stated, the place where World War II and Polish freedom began is “a perfect place to talk about the future of Europe”. – Because the workers of Gdańsk demanded freedom, demanded control over their lives, and we within the European Union also need it – he added.

Sikorski: there is no better place to discuss the future of Europe than Gdańsk TVN24

Tusk on the European Union as “a synonym of peace and freedom”

When speaking about the foundations of the EU community, Donald Tusk referred to his personal experiences related to the EU. – The European Union is a dream about Europe for a Pole of my generation, it is a dream about peace and freedom, about what in this place became the essence of the life and political experience of Poles in 1980 – he said.

– This dream has come true. Therefore, those who keep their eyes open, who have a bit of intellectual decency (sees that – ed.), The European Union was and is a synonym of peace and freedom – he added.

Tusk pointed out that if the European community adheres to the democratic principles underlying the creation of the Union, it is a guarantee that we will not return to the experiences of World War II.

– A Union divided, where all or at least some of them will renounce liberal, democratic values, sooner or later will be a place of catastrophe – he continued.

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Tusk on the European Union as “a synonym of peace and freedom”TVN24

Question about the fate of pregnant women in Poland. Tusk: this is a question about civil liberties, about human rights

Then the audience asked questions. Tusk and Sikorski were asked how they can protect women from the situations that resulted from last year’s decision of the Constitutional Tribunal on abortion. It is about the judgment of October 22, 2020, when the Constitutional Tribunal ruled that the provision of the so-called the Anti-Abortion Act of 1993 allowing abortion when prenatal tests or other medical indications indicate the probability of severe and irreversible fetal impairment or an incurable life-threatening disease.

In their replies, both debaters pointed out that this area of ​​law is not established at the European Union level.

Tusk said that “this is a question about civil liberties, about human rights”. In his opinion, it was possible to look for such a way all the time not to turn the issue into a topic that ignites social emotions so much. – A strong presence of the European Union in this debate will certainly help, not solve the problem, but it will help – he added.

Referring to the role of the European Union, Tusk referred to his conversation with the journalist Anne Applebaum, privately Sikorski’s wife. He said that they both came to the conclusion that “Europe is an empire of law and only as such makes sense.” – By law we understand not only an independent legal system and an independent judiciary system, it is no coincidence that the same word also means human rights, without both, there will be no Europe – added the leader of the Civic Platform.

Tusk and Sikorski on abortion in Poland

Tusk and Sikorski on abortion in PolandTVN24

Tusk: European and national identity are not in contradiction with each other

The next question was how to convince part of the society to feel stronger ties with the European community.

Tusk said that this was a question of “whether there is a chance for a European identity to be born at all, (…) whether we are able to build such a European identity”. As he said, this identity “would be able to eliminate the differences” related to national issues. At the same time, he made a reservation that such “European identity” would not replace national identity.

As he pointed out, European and national identities “are not in contradiction with each other”, there is no conflict between them.

– It is safest for Poland and for Poles in a united Europe – emphasized the former head of the European Council.

Sikorski: You cannot remain indifferent to the lies about the European Union

The audience also asked what the “average citizen” can do to increase the sense of European identity in Polish society.

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Radosław Sikorski said that the most important thing is not to remain indifferent to the lies that appear in the public debate about the European Union. He said that such a passive public attitude contributed to the rise of anti-EU sentiment in Great Britain.

– When we hear lies, distortions, we have to protest. Because when a lie takes root, it influences the opinion and the argument. (…) I appeal not to allow such a mechanism to be activated in Poland – emphasized the former head of Polish diplomacy.

Tusk: From the point of view of the interests of the European Union, Nord Stream 2 is a bad project

The topic of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline also appeared in the discussion.

– From the point of view of the interests of the European Union, Nord Stream 2 is a bad project – pointed out the former president of the European Council, adding that Angela Merkel, who was stepping down from the position of German Chancellor in December, was helpless in the face of the lobbying force of domestic entrepreneurs. “She admitted that in one of our conversations,” he said. He also stressed that Germany’s continued readiness to cooperate in energy with Russia was one of Germany’s problems and “one of Merkel’s greatest mistakes”.

– I did everything to make the EU independent of gas supplies from Russia, among others by establishing the energy union, i.e. the Community gas purchase mechanism – reminded the former prime minister. However, he indicated that many member states were not interested in “creating joint resistance to the construction of Nord Stream 2”. Among the countries that did not mind the project – as he calculated – there were, among others, the Netherlands, Austria and Hungary, and the Czech Republic, among others, emphasized their neutrality.

When asked about the dispute with the Czechs over the mine in Turów, he said that the solution would be to build a water supply system for Czech towns that are currently struggling with the problem of water shortage. “It would be cheaper than the costs we already have to bear,” he pointed out.

The case of Nord Stream 2 and the Turów mine

Nord Stream 2 is a gas pipeline from Russia to Germany, running along the bottom of the Baltic Sea. It bypasses Poland and Belarus, as well as Ukraine. In recent days, the German regulator, the Federal Network Agency (Bundesnetzagentur), decided to suspend the certification of Nord Stream. As Stanisław Żaryn, the spokesman of the minister coordinator of the Polish secret services, wrote on Twitter, “this decision was signaled by the German side to the Russian entity.” “It is strictly procedural in nature and does not mean a change in the policy regarding the German-Russian gas pipeline,” he added.

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In February, the Czech Republic brought a complaint to the Court of Justice of the EU (CJEU) against Poland regarding the Turów lignite mine. They also applied for an interim order ordering the suspension of mining operations. The complaint was filed in connection with the expansion of the mine, which – as Praga claims – threatens the access to water of the inhabitants of the surrounding communes. They also complain about noise and dust from lignite mining.

In May, the CJEU, in response to a request from the Czech Republic, ordered the immediate suspension of coal mining in Turów. The Polish government announced that the mine would continue to operate and started talks with the Czech side. On September 20, the European Court decided that Poland was to pay the European Commission a fine of EUR 500,000 a day for failure to implement interim measures and for not stopping the extraction of lignite in the mine.

Tusk: a dozen or maybe tens of thousands more will die unnecessarily due to the lack of fighting the pandemic

After the debate, Tusk spoke to journalists about the pandemic and the way the government is fighting it.

– The only thing I fear about the political dimension of the pandemic drama is the lack of any decision. What is the most dangerous today is that we have a government and power over which the dark shadow of (PiS president Jarosław) Kaczyński, hidden, who does not make any decisions, can be seen. They are all afraid to make any decision – he said.

According to the leader of the Civic Platform, if the rulers “do not start fighting the pandemic, then a dozen or even tens of thousands of people more will die because of their escape from responsibility and decisions.” “This is something unacceptable,” he stressed. – If Prime Minister (Mateusz) Morawiecki does not present a precise plan, it will mean that they have really resigned from governing. It is unacceptable to risk the lives of thousands of Poles in an absolutely unacceptable way – said the politician. As he noted, the PO will demand information “not only about what has happened so far, but about their plans to fight the pandemic”.

– We will want the Prime Minister’s Medical Council to work together with the health committee and present its recommendations to the public in the presence of the media. And we want an additional PLN 20 billion in this budget to be immediately transferred to health care. Because today Poland – which probably does not fit people’s mind – is the only country in Europe that during the pandemic reduced the amount of funds for health protection, and did not increase it – said Tusk.

Main photo source: PAP/Adam Warżawa

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