Poland vs Russia: who will unite the conservative forces in Europe?

MOSCOW, 16 Nov 2021, RUSSTRAT Institute.

Jarosław Kaczyński, Chairman of the ruling Polish Law and Justice Party (PiS), invited representatives of right-wing and conservative parties whose members sit in the European Parliament to visit Warsaw in early December. Among them are the leader of the Spanish “Vox” party Santiago Abascal, the Prime Minister of Hungary and the head of the “Fidesz” party Viktor Orban, the president of the Italian Brothers of Italy party Giorgia Meloni and the head of the Italian League party Matteo Salvini.

The main topic of the summit will be the trends prevailing in the European Union and its future. As Kaczyński previously stated, he and his supporters do not want a “moral revolution and restriction of freedoms”. According to him, the European Union has a “fuzzy structure and goals”, and its bodies too often “rethink the content of the signed union treaties”. Therefore, right-wing and conservative politicians want a “deep reform of the EU” and a return to ideas that, in their opinion, disappear “along with the sovereignty of states”.

But this is only one side of the coin of the ideology of the chairman of the Polish ruling party. There is another one. He spoke about it on November 10 in Warsaw and in Krakow on the Independence Day of Poland – November 11. At first, Kaczyński said that Poland was being attacked from the east and west. The attack from the east is, in his opinion, a humanitarian crisis on the Polish-Belarusian border caused by “Belarusian dictator Aleksandr Lukashenko”. And what is an attack from the West? He didn’t say.

But he hinted. “What is the common denominator of what is happening?” Kaczyński asked. “Although the intentions are different and there are different centres that cause these conflicts, the fact is that many on both sides of Europe do not want to accept our subjectivity, the prospects for our development, the increase in our strength, the growth of our determination, the determination to be a nation that is not only independent, free, but also strong and plays an important role. Because only such a Poland can survive”.

He returned to this thesis again in Krakow: “We have a big problem in the West. All this is well known – we are talking about the recognition of our subjectivity, the decision of the Constitutional Court of Poland (on the priority of Polish legislation over European – RUSSTRAT), our right to organise cases in Poland by ourselves… It depends only on us whether we can do it.”

As some Polish publications emphasise, the head of PiS delivered his speech in a landmark place – the Krakow society “Sokol”, which played a great “liberating” role during the partitions of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth in the 19th century and was associated with the Endecja (National Democrats of Roman Dmowski). But Polish historian Adam Leszczyński sees in Kaczyński’s speech echoes of the “pre-war diplomatic doctrine of the Sanacja regime – the principle of “equal distance” from Germany and the USSR”.

Leszczyński recalls that after the death of Marshal Józef Piłsudski in 1935, the ruling elites of the authoritarian Polish Republic adhered to the principle that Poland has two “mortal enemies – Stalinist Russia and Nazi Germany, with whom it is necessary, if possible, to maintain peaceful relations, but not to join an alliance”. However, “since January 1939, when Germany made territorial demands on Poland, expecting it to also join the alliance against the USSR, it became impossible to maintain a balance between Soviet Russia and Germany”.

Thus, the Kaczyński doctrine has at least one extremely dangerous dimension. It creates the conditions and prerequisites for returning to the realities of a pre-war divided Europe and provoking a new global conflict that could escalate into World War III. And are the allies of “Law and Justice” ready for this? We don’t think so. Salvini, for example, calls only for Warsaw and Rome to create a “new balance” in the EU after many years of “domination of the Franco-German axis”. We believe that other European right-wing and conservative forces are not interested in escalating tensions either.

However, the experience of the First World War shows that just one person’s shot is enough to ignite a terrible fire. That is why an alternative to the Kaczyński doctrine is so important. Moscow offers it. Most Polish publications did not by coincidence pay attention to the speech of Russian President Vladimir Putin during a meeting of the Valdai Club. Their attention was attracted by the following words of the head of the Russian state.

“Now, when the world is going through a structural breakdown, the importance of reasonable conservatism as the basis of a political course has increased many times precisely because of the multiplying risks and dangers, the fragility of the reality surrounding us,” Putin said. “The conservative approach is not thoughtless guarding, not fear of change and not a game of retention, especially not closure in its own shell. First of all, it is based on a time-tested tradition, the preservation and multiplication of the population, realism in assessing oneself and others, the exact alignment of the system of priorities, the correlation of the necessary and possible, the prudent formulation of the goal, the principled rejection of extremism as a method of action.”

According to Polish experts, the Russian president said exactly what conservative opponents of the now dominant liberal ideology wanted to hear in the US and the EU. The fact that his speech was noticed and read can be “seen from the statements of Western politicians who are thrown into one bag with the name ‘right-wing populism’”, they observe in Poland. And further: “Putin attracts political leaders with his ideology and makes them open to doing business with him, after which they lobby these views among voters in their countries.”

This is what the leader of the Polish ruling party is afraid of. After all, the success of Russian “reasonable conservatism” will forever bury Kaczyński’s attempts to lead a certain European right-wing integration project himself. Therefore, he will continue to inflate the myth of Poland, which is allegedly threatened simultaneously from the east and the west, in order to prevent the unity of the healthy conservative forces of Russia and the EU.

Institute for International Political and Economic Strategies – RUSSTRAT

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