Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki has challenged German MEP Manfred Weber to a debate ahead of autumn general elections in Poland – instead of opposition leader Donald Tusk, whom Morawiecki claims is merely doing Germany’s bidding.
The Polish PM slammed Weber’s remarks in which the EPP leader called Poland’s ruling Conservative party, the PiS, an “enemy like [French right-wing leader] Le Pen and [Germany’s hard-right] AfD” and claimed the PiS was a threat to the rule of law.
Morawiecki has accused Weber of “unacceptable interference” in Poland’s election process. “If Germans are openly admitting that they will interfere in Poland’s election then let them do it [publicly]. Mr Weber, don’t just use your helper Donald Tusk. Debate me,” he challenged.
He added that it was time to stop outsiders from “defaming” Poland. “I want to say that enough is enough. As Polish PM who represents a majority elected in a democratic election, I will not allow for that choice to be slandered” by a German leader of a party which has Donald Tusk’s liberal PO party as its member.
Morawiecki recalled that this was not the first time Weber had made such remarks. He demanded the EPP leader meet with him for a debate on the issues, suggesting October 2 as a date, which is likely to be in the middle of Poland’s general elections.
In an interview with German television channel ZDF, Weber had accused the PiS of “systematically attacking the rule of law and media freedom”.
He also said any party that respects the rule of law could be a rival and a democratic partner at the same time. He added: “However, all those who do not, such as the AfD and Le Pen in France or PiS in Poland, are our enemies and must be combatted.”
In a June interview with German newspaper Frankfurter Allegmegne Zeitung, he claimed that his EPP was building a “firewall against PiS”, adding that his party wanted to isolate “radicals such as AfD and Le Pen who are our political enemies”.
His criticism came despite the fact that the PiS is member of the European Conservative Reformers (ECR) group in the EPP, which supported Ursula von der Leyen for the post of President of the European Commission. Weber has long been arguing for closer cooperation between the EPP and the ECR.
The PO is also a constituent party of the EPP and has over the past few years promoted itself as a force to improve Poland’s position in the European Union because of its more centrist standpoint. It has also called on EU institutions to sanction the PiS Government over its alleged rule-of-law violations.
That has led to the PiS portraying the PO as being “disloyal” to Poland and “ready to do Germany’s bidding in the EU”.