It promised to be a rocky ride for Donald Tusk and Lech Kaczynski, one-time political rivals totally opposed in their views. The man Kaczynski beat to the presidency two years ago is now his prime minister and there is no love lost. But, since his nomination for the premiership, Tusk has indicated a change of tack. “On this day, after many months of sharp political conflict, and a sharp conflict of values, I can say to the Polish people that the time of political conflict has ended,” Tusk said at his swearing-in.
That sentiment from the head of Poland’s Civic Platform party is a far cry from his campaign rhetoric when he was in London, trying to convince Polish workers to return home. Between discussions on the future of Poland, this is what he said about possible power-sharing with a Kaczynski brother. “I would say I am different. I don’t agree with your actions. Your socialist ideas irritate me. I would prefer you worked in favour of Poland’s interests rather than against them. But I would also say, let’s find things we can do together.”
Pragmatism appears to have won out. It is that quality which wowed Poland’s European partners. They were hard put to look disappointed when Tusk ousted Jaroslaw Kaczynski from office. The new prime minister has denounced the Kaczynski twins’ confrontational stance, especially towards Europe, many times.
Tusk says his priority will be to try to repair relations with Germany. Equally tricky will be staying on good terms with the United States as he calls home 900 troops deployed in Iraq next year, and starts to put new, financial conditions on any deal to put a missile shield on Polish soil.
Because of that, and other issues, Moscow and Warsaw are not talking. Tusk must attempt what the Kaczynski brothers failed. He must get a Russian embargo on Polish meat lifted, which is blocking crucial negotiations between the EU and Russia.