Episode 49

Relation with Germany and Ukraine Go Downhill & more –26th Sep 2023

Worsening relations with Ukraine and Germany, controls at the border with Slovakia, the stiff competition between political parties just before the election, debates about the media’s effect on elections, a two-billion-dollar loan for military spending, and much more!

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Witam from Keswick Village! This is the Rorshok Poland Update from the 26th of September twenty twenty-three A quick summary of what's going down in Poland.

Polish-Ukrainian relations are getting worse.

On Thursday, the 21st, President Duda said that the Ukrainian president had ‘gone too far’ when talking about Poland in his speech at the UN summit. In last week’s UN meeting, Zelensky stated that European countries, including Poland, are “making a thriller from the grain" as Poland and other four countries extended the ban on Ukrainian grain this month. Amid the speech, Duda reminded Ukraine that it has received a lot of assistance and support from allies, including Poland, and that the country should protect its national interests to keep helping Ukraine.

The country has helped Ukraine in many ways. For instance, Poland has sent military equipment to the country at war but that is about to change.

On Thursday the 21st, the Polish government revealed that the country is not sending further military equipment to Ukraine. Piotr Müller, the government spokesman, criticized recent Ukrainian actions against Poland and said that the country would only send the equipment it had previously agreed to give to Ukraine and that there wouldn’t be any new supplies.

The country is also butting heads with Germany

In this week’s UN speech, Zelensky also proposed that the UN accept Germany as a permanent member of the Security Council. Mariusz Błaszczak, the Polish defense minister, said that Germany should pay war reparations to Poland before becoming a permanent member of the Council. He also said that Germany did not help Ukraine in the immediate aftermath of the Russian invasion.

Why are relations between Ukraine and Poland getting worse? A politician has a theory,

On Tuesday, the 26th, a politician from the ruling party said that the tension between Poland and Ukraine had increased because of Germany. Beata Szydło’s conspiracy theory is that Ukraine, Germany, and France may have agreed to grant Ukraine a fast entry into the EU in exchange for overthrowing the current Polish government. Germany wants to see a government change in the upcoming election since its relations with the current administration are worsening each day. According to Szydło, the Polish government is opposing new treaty changes in the EU, because it doesn’t want the EU to turn into a federation controlled by Germany. Wanna read more about this theory? Follow the link in the show notes!

In EU-Polish relations…

On Friday, the 22nd, Poland informed the EU about the visa incident after the European Commission requested explanations. Since people holding a Polish visa can enter other European countries, an unusual increase in the number of visas issued in Poland may also increase the number of arrivals to other European countries.

Poland introduced border control with another EU member country.

On Tuesday, the 26th, Poland introduced border checks for cars coming from Slovakia to avoid illegal immigration. Slovakia and Poland are both members of the EU, and normally, there should not be any border checks between members. Yet, Polish authorities stated that only this year they detained 450 illegal immigrants on the Slovakian border. As a result, they will check suspicious cars that may carry immigrants.

In our last note on foreign affairs…

On Monday, the 25th, the US State Department declared that the US had given Poland a two-billion-dollar loan for military spending. It stated that Poland is vital for NATO's security, and it has been modernizing its army amid the Russian threat, which requires support. Also, Prime Minister Morawiecki said that Poland would spend thirty-four billion dollars on defense next year. This figure amounts to four percent of the country’s GDP.

The domestic sphere is even more heated as the elections are around the corner.

On Monday, the 25th, the last poll indicated stiff competition between the ruling party and the opposition. In the poll, Law and Justice, the ruling party, took 34 percent of the vote, while its main rival, the Civic Platform, had 28 percent. The Third Way alliance ranks third with 9 percent. The Conferedation and the Left parties follow it with 8 percent. In the Polish Parliament, there are 460 MP seats. According to these results, if the ruling party forms a coalition with the Confederation Party, the alliance might get the majority, that is 231 seats.

Speaking of political parties, they are not happy with the media.

If someone hands over a leaflet to you about elections on the street, do not be surprised. On Wednesday, the 20th, the ruling party, announced that they would try to reach 10 million people before the election through leaflets that promote the party. They believe they cannot reach enough voters due to the manipulation and censorship of the opposition media, mainly private TVN television broadcaster and the Gazeta Wyborcza daily newspaper.

While the ruling party is complaining about opposition media, the state media is no different.

On Thursday, the 21st, a group of journalists made an official complaint to TVP, the state television channel, for not giving the opposition enough coverage. Krzysztof Luft, a journalist for the Program Council of the TVP, said that the state television channel devotes eighty percent of its screen time to the ruling party, and only twenty percent to the opposition. He stated that this leads to questions about the legitimacy of the upcoming elections.

Who would have thought that a movie was going to start a debate between political parties?

On Friday, the 22nd, the ruling party and the country’s conservatives criticized a movie called The Green Border. The new film of the Polish director Agnieszka Holland reflects the drama that migrants from third-world countries are facing on the Polish-Belarusian border. The movie also shows how the Polish army deals with migrants when they are trying to cross the border. The ruling party harshly criticized the scenes that show the Polish army as evil, and illegal immigration as an innocent act. Also, they asked Donald Tusk, the leader of the Civic Platform, to apologize to the Polish nation, since he is a friend of Agnieszka Holland. The film that sparked controversy will be available in Polish cinemas this week.

In unrelated news…

With the twenty twenty-two stricter law that punishes drivers with heavier fines, police now take traffic rules more seriously. Last year alone, nearly two thousand people were killed and twenty-five thousand were injured in traffic accidents.

On Thursday, the 21st, a study showed that Polish expats are returning home amid the economic improvement. Lower costs of living and the presence of tech giants such as Google and Microsoft are attracting Polish expats to return to the country to work in their homeland. Experts defined this situation as a ‘reverse brain drain’.

And to close this edition…,

There is a stereotype which conveys that Poles are always complaining about their lives. However, it might not be just a stereotype, as a poll showed that more than half of the population is not happy with the developments in the country. Young and educated people expressed the most dissatisfaction.

That’s it for this week! Thanks for joining us!

This Poland Rorshok Update is one of the country-specific podcasts we do.

But we've been experimenting with other topics, and we have a new show about the Arctic, where we update you on everything going on North of the Arctic Circle. The Arctic Update is the third of the new series, along with the Ocean and Multilateral Updates.

You can look for them in your podcast listening app of choice or follow the links in the show notes!

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