Poland’s Prime Minister Kazimierz Marcinkiewicz has been talking to EuroNews in the week when his country’s parliament is expected to vote on whether to call another general election.
The last election was held only six months ago, but under the proportional representation system no party gained a majority. The two that won the most seats failed to agree a coalition.
Ever since Law and Justice 5; the largest party in parliament 5; has had a difficult time ruling as a minority government.
In the interview the prime minister also talked about Europe and freedom of movement for workers, the government’s opposition to an Italian takeover of a major Polish bank and the situation after the election in Belarus, Poland’s neighbour to the East.
Firstly, Poland is in the middle of a political crisis. There is talk of new elections, possibly a vote of no-confidence. Are your ready to form a coalition with the parties that are extremely anti-European?
Right now, we are trying to convince all the political parties to accept the idea of elections, to dissolve parliament to confirm once again if the Polish people support the changes proposed by my Law and Justice party.
I think that I have already made clear the direction my government is taking – independent of whatever will happen in politics. I don’t intend to change the political trend. Poland needs this policy and Poles accept it. We have good international policies. We are the guarantors of Poland’s swift and stable economic development.
I’d like to ask a question about economic nationalism or protectionism. A proposed merger is causing problems in Poland. The Italian bank, UniCredit, is trying to buy a Polish bank and merge it with another Polish lender it already owns. Why is your government so strongly opposed to that?
My government likes Italian investors. But that bank previously signed an agreement with the Polish National Treasury: an agreement guaranteeing that after having already bought a bank from the Polish state several years before, they would not buy any more Polish banks.
We are only trying to respect that agreement. We are convinced that, as in all business disputes, we should make the effort to talk about this. It’s for that reason I’ve had meetings with the president of Unicredit – the Italian bank – for the last two weeks to discuss this and I hope that that will lead to a compromise.”
We spoke about freedom of movement of capital in Europe. Let’s talk also about the fact that it is still difficult for people from Eastern Europe to work in Western Europe. What is Poland’s position on this?
The best thing you can do is read the European Commission report that examined how opening their borders to workers from the new EU member states boosted the economies of Britain, Sweden and Ireland. The report shows that those three countries benefited from that.
You want Europeans to invest in Poland, how do you convince them to do that?
Poland’s economic conditions are favorable for foreign investors; there’s considerable GDP growth – 5%. Also, Poland has a very good macro-economic situation which is ideal for investors and moreover, Poland has something unique that you won’t find anywhere else: that is ten million young Poles who are very well trained and very ambitious, and keen to use their skills. Anyone who wants to make use of those human resources, that younger generation of Poles, and who wants to come and invest in Poland, will discover the potential of this young, well trained and dynamic people. It is our greatest asset.”
Finally, President Alexander Lukashenko’s forces in Belarus arrested hundreds of people demonstrating against the election outcome and eyewitnesses saw some protesters being beaten. How should the European Union respond?
The European Union cannot remain silent when human rights are violated. The defence of human rights is our duty, something we should do.
We believe – and we have proposed to the EU – that there should be sanctions against all those responsible for this situation – that is hundreds, perhaps thousands, of Belarus officials should be banned from entering the European Union.
And the higher ranking Belarus politicians should have their assets and bank accounts in the Union European frozen.