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Head of Polish protest movement in Washington talks

PR dla Zagranicy
Nick Hodge 06.04.2016 12:54
The leader of Poland's Committee for the Defence of Democracy (KOD) has taken part in talks with US officials about the rule of law and human rights in Poland.
The Senate side of the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C. Photo: wikimedia commons/scrumshusThe Senate side of the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C. Photo: wikimedia commons/scrumshus

Tuesday's talks coincided with the Vice President of the European Commission's appeal to the Polish government to implement rulings by the country's Constitutional Tribunal, amid a deadlock between the court and the government.

Speaking to Polish journalists following the meetings, head of KOD Mateusz Kijowski brushed off a suggestion that he was “informing on” Poland.

“What is the sense of being a member of various international communities such as the European Union and NATO and having close relations with the United States, if we cannot work with them and make use of their help?

“It's a bit like a family: if we have a problem, then we look for someone to confer with, so as to work out how to deal with that problem,” he said.

So far, Kijowski has met representatives of Senator Jeanne Shaheen (Democrat) of the Foreign Relations Subcommittee on European Affairs, as well as those of Republican John McCain and Democrats Ben Cardin and Richard J. Durbin.

The latter three senators wrote a letter to the Polish prime minister on 10 February, calling on the Polish government to “recommit to the core principles of the OSCE and the EU, including respect for democracy, human rights, and rule of law.”

Kijowski said talks included human rights issues such as a potential ban on abortion, as well as new legislation empowering police in surveillance.

However, he said that the Constitutional Tribunal “was decidedly at the centre of the talks.”

Ruling party Law and Justice held the first of a prospective series of cross-party talks on 31 March, with the ostensible aim of finding a compromise regarding the constitutional deadlock.

In February, Foreign Minister Witold Waszczykowski had argued that the US senators who had appealed to Prime Minister Beata Szydło had “a lack of knowledge” about Polish affairs, and that they had been partly misinformed by “people who do not wish Poland well.” (nh/pk)

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