Zbigniew Ziobro (Source: KPRM)

Karol Gac is speaking with Zbigniew Ziobro, Polish Minister of Justice

(…)

As you mentioned, the CJEU dismissed the complaint of Poland and Hungary regarding the “money for the rule of law” mechanism, which makes the payment of EU money conditional on the rule of law. At that time, you accused the prime minister of making a historic mistake.

Yes. Agreeing to the “money for sovereignty” mechanism was a historic mistake. It’s a statement that illustrates reality. There was a dispute between us for many months. I tried to convinced the prime minister that it would end this way. Time has settled this dispute and I have no pleasure from the fact that I turned out to be right, because Poland has a problem

However, the prime minister and his entourage argue that we have nothing to fear, because the justification of the CJEU’s ruling clearly indicates that it’s due to a threat to the budget, and its aim is to prevent embezzlement.

So where is the money from the Reconstruction Fund that has been due to us for many months? The Union has indeed applied the conditionality mechanism and is therefore withholding payment. The argument you are talking about is illogical. Since the conditionality mechanism can be used when the threat itself is present, so much the worse for us. Because the assessment of whether a threat exists is subjective. It does not have to be based on facts.

You criticize Prime Minister Morawiecki very much.

We criticized the Prime Minister when he agreed to the conditionality mechanism and the tightening of the climate package. However, today I appreciate and praise the role of Prime Minister Morawiecki in the activities of the Polish government in connection with Russia’s attack on Ukraine. Just as I appreciate the President’s attitude in this matter. It must be said that Jarosław Kaczyński played a key role in this difficult situation for Poland, although it was not visible in the media. It was thanks to his support and commitment, which I observed in the Security Committee for months, that Minister Blaszczak was able to prepare the law on defense of the fatherland, which was just adopted by the Parliament, and which is of key importance for the security of our nation. Today we can see how important it was that power did not fall into the hands of people such as Donald Tusk or Radosław Sikorski, who, as the head of Polish diplomacy, invited Russia to NATO in German news outlets. It is scary to think what would happen if Poland was ruled by such people and simultaneously were to face the crisis caused by the war in Ukraine today.

Coming back to EU issues, do you expect Brussels to quickly activate the conditionality mechanism against Poland?

It has been using it for many months. As I mentioned, we didn’t even get a Euro cent from the funds due to us. Brussels is imposing sanctions on Poland, but it does not want to strictly apply them to Putin. It still provides him with other exit doors and supplies him with money. It was the Union that fed this monster, and had it not been for its naivete, Putin wouldn’t have grown so strong. Today, you can clearly see the difference between Poland and countries such as Germany. The Polish government is taking bold initiatives to put a dam on the criminal Russian war machine. In Berlin, meanwhile, they are more concerned with saving business with Putin. However, we must realize today that war changes everything. Poland, as the largest country bordering the area where war is a real threat to the world, ironically has become a key partner for Western European countries today. In terms of security, as well as humanitarian and military aid. And even in conducting an international investigation into Russian war crimes in Ukraine. In this situation, the European Union cannot afford – without considerable risk – to continue sanctions against Poland. Each blow to Poland and destabilization of the situation in our country is part of the Kremlin’s strategy. And the important and positive role of our state in the process of security and the restoration of peace in Ukraine in the future goes hand in hand with the interests of the free world. Polish politicians who are negotiating with the EU should make themselves aware of this new reality.

Do you think that reforming the EU is possible?

Crises change politics. The war will contribute to this. The EU, especially Germany, will not be able to get back to business with Putin as if nothing had happened. Let us make no mistake, but they will do it quickly when Putin is replaced by another despot – just like him, but pretending to be a “liberal” who will announce a thaw and open up to the West. That is why we must pursue a tough policy within the EU, strengthen our position and defend our sovereignty with no less determination than the Ukrainians in the war. A threat to our sovereignty is the construction of an EU superstate, which the new German government coalition even included in its program. I do not want a superstate ruled by Germany, or German helmets, if, through their fault, we were to face such an attack in the future as the Ukrainians are facing today.

This article was published in March 2022 in Do Rzeczy magazine.