Leading European politicians are calling for European Parliament Vice President Ryszard Czarnecki to be removed from his position after he likened a fellow Polish MEP to a Nazi collaborator.
In a letter to President Antonio Tajani on Wednesday, four of the European Parliament’s group chairmen denounced Czarnecki’s “unacceptable and degrading statement” about Róża Thun.
The politicians urged Tajani to enact Rule 21 of the Rules of Procedure, under which a vice president can be removed from office in cases of "serious misconduct."
In a blog post earlier this month, Czarnecki, a member of Poland’s ruling Law and Justice party, likened Thun of the opposition Civic Platform (PO) to a “szmalcownik.”
The pejorative Polish term is used to describe a person collaborating with Nazi occupiers and selling out Jewish people, as well as blackmailing Poles who protected Jews, the MEPs explained.
When later questioned in a radio interview about the comments, Czarnecki stood by them and refused to apologise.
“These remarks exceed the boundaries of responsible political discourse, both on a personal and on an institutional level,” says the letter, signed by senior MEPs Manfred Weber, Gianni Pittella, Guy Verhofstadt and Philippe Lamberts.
They went on to describe the comments as crossing “yet another line” amid “vicious attacks to discredit honourable Polish MEPs,” which they said had become commonplace in recent months.
The MEPs urged Tajani to take “appropriate action” to distance the European Parliament from the remarks.
“In particular, it is unimaginable that with these statements and attitudes to colleagues Mr Czarnecki continues to represent as Vice-President the Parliament and you personally,” they said.
Czarnecki did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Wednesday's letter came amid rising political tensions in Poland.
In November, Tajani said he would ask Poland’s prime minister to ensure the security of Polish MEPs following a far-right protest which included a symbolic hanging of several Civic Platform politicians.