Poland’s Defense Minister, Mariusz Blaszczak, has leveled accusations against the opposition, claiming that their plans involve reducing the size of the country’s armed forces and transferring aspects of national defense to the European Union headquarters in Brussels. The debate centers around the size and control of Poland’s military forces, with the government and opposition presenting contrasting views.
During the election campaign, opposition politicians argued that the government’s proposal to increase the armed forces to 300,000 personnel was unfeasible due to the demographic challenges posed by Poland’s declining population. In response, the government accused the opposition of seeking to diminish the army’s size, intensifying the political divide.
Blaszczak made his stance clear, stating, “They not only want to cut troop numbers, but they also want to hand over defense affairs to bureaucrats in Brussels.” His remarks came as a response to statements made by his predecessor, Tomasz Siemoniak, who served as the defense minister in Civic Platform (PO) governments from 2011 to 2015. Siemoniak, reportedly a candidate for defense minister from the Civic Coalition (KO), had advocated for stronger European integration in defense and expanded European Union competences in the field.
Blaszczak expressed concerns over this proposal, highlighting that such a move would mean that decisions regarding Poland’s defense would be made outside the country, undermining NATO’s central role in the nation’s security.
Siemoniak did not shy away from responding to Blaszczak’s accusations, urging him to step down as defense minister and stating that his behavior was an embarrassment. Siemoniak also pointed out that Jaroslaw Kaczynski, the leader of the ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party, had previously spoken in favor of a European army back in 2010, implying that the ruling party had also considered European integration in defense.
However, Siemoniak distanced himself from Kaczynski’s position, asserting that this was not the right time or direction for Poland. Instead, he voiced his support for a strong NATO, emphasizing its importance as the foundation of Poland’s security. Still, he suggested that the European Union could complement both Poland’s defense capabilities and those of its allies, asserting that this approach would be in Poland’s best interests.
This debate over the future of Poland’s armed forces and the extent of European integration in defense promises to be a key point of contention in the country’s political landscape in the coming months.