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    Third term in office is possible, Kaczynski told ‘Gazeta Polska’

    Ten months of the war are behind us. How can we define the place where Poland finds itself as a result of Russia’s aggression against Ukraine? 

    We are the power base – the most serious, or one of the most serious – of a country that is defending itself against the attack and is determined to win this war. This is, of course, due to our geographical location, which naturally points us to this role. The Ukrainians are fighting extremely effectively, their determination is worthy of the greatest admiration. It prevented Moscow to carry out its plans for the conquest of our eastern neighbour. However, Ukraine nevertheless needed, needs, and will need support, and the role of our homeland in this process for world security is crucial. Therefore, our position and importance have also increased. Of course, not only for geographical reasons but primarily because of the policy that our political party is pursuing. It is also fair to say that the level of threats has also increased. 

    What kind of situation would we be in if we had remained passive and detached from the war in Ukraine? 

    In an incomparably worse one. I would like everyone to understand this. I know that many messages are making Poles think that it is better to keep quiet and not to worry about what the Russians are doing, because it is not our war. Ladies and gentlemen, this is a blatant lie. If we had not got involved in helping the Ukrainians, we would be in far greater danger than we are now. The level of threat would have been incomparably greater and, in addition, our position on the international stage would have declined. We would have positioned ourselves among the pro-Russian states, and morally we would have failed. Strong involvement in supporting Kyiv is by all means the right decision. It is the safest, best political decision for Poland and puts us in the most favourable light. 

    The picture of this war has been changing over the months. First the shock – especially in the West – of the invasion itself. Then disbelief at the ineffectiveness of the Russians. Then horror at the revelation of Moscow’s bestiality and, in recent months, the threat of nuclear weapons. It seems to be less today, at least that is the impression one gets from analysing the publicly available information. Is this the case?

    It certainly still cannot be said that this threat is over. We are still in its shadow, and no one today can guarantee us that the Russians will not go as far as this crime too. But I would not treat it as very likely. Putin faced with the prospect of complete military and political defeat may of course go to various criminal undertakings. But he has been given a very clear signal as to what the consequences of this will be for him, his environment, and this genocidal state as a whole. According to all the information reaching us, he has not gone mad, he has simply shown his true face. We have been warning of him for years, my late brother heroically and extremely accurately. And if that is the case, if Russia’s leaders today are simply criminals and not madmen, I think they can read the message of the Western world correctly and know that they do not have even a shadow of a chance of winning the war with the West. The announcement of the destruction of the Black Sea fleet and all Russian forces in Ukraine if nuclear weapons are used to any extent is entirely real and feasible without the use of nuclear missiles. They know this in Moscow.

    At first, Western societies were enthusiastic about helping the Ukrainians, even forcing solidarity with our neighbour on their governments. But a prolonged war comes at a great cost. For everyone. And the longer it lasts, the fatigue of bearing them grows. 

    This is certainly the case. But I fear that we must prepare ourselves for the fact that the war will not end soon. I have heard various forecasts, extreme ones, but nevertheless formulated by a reliable person, pointed to 2030 as the potential moment of its end. In my view, it will not last that long, perhaps even shorter than we think. And that is to be wished for. 

    You mentioned a very pessimistic forecast. 2030 is almost a decade. Do you know any reliable forecasts indicating the possibility of an end of the war within months?

    I’ll be honest because I believe you have to play open cards with the public. Not everything can be disclosed, of course, because there is information that must remain secret for security reasons. There is only one answer to this question – I am not aware of any reliable analysis that predicts an end of the war in months’ time. This is not to say, of course, that it is not possible. It is. Something can always happen that we do not expect and that even the best experts cannot predict. 

    Does the war in Ukraine have the potential to spread to other territories? The Secretary-General of NATO recently spoke about it.

    War is always unpredictable. I don’t think there is – for today – a plan to expand this conflict to other countries, but after all, the Kremlin does not have full control over what happens on the frontline. This is always the case. There is a threat that the Russians will want to carry out certain operations that they have not undertaken so far. Let’s make it clear, I’m not talking about using nuclear weapons. 

    What operations are you talking about?

    Unfortunately, I cannot talk about them for security reasons. All I can say is that if they were undertaken, the danger of spreading war would increase. 

    Can we maintain the pace and scale of aid to Ukraine at the current level? The Americans, at least for the time being, are not slowing down, but our potential is more limited.

    As far as military aid is concerned, we certainly need a deep breath to avoid getting out of breath. Supporting the Ukrainians is a priority, but we must remember to develop our defence capabilities. After all, our first task is to eliminate, or at least radically reduce, the possibility of war expanding into our country. So even if it is difficult for us to radically increase military aid to Kyiv now, we will still support our neighbours in any other equally important and effective way.

    What is the activity of the Russian services towards Poland?

    It is extensive. But this should not be a surprise. However, here we have a certain problem, which is of course verified by the war across our border, but which my late brother, I and our people described more than three decades ago. 

    What is this problem?

    It has to do with the nature of the construction of our political system. Well, our state was built as if there would never be a war again. For example, based on certain demands that were right against the communist state – imposed on us, oppressive – but had lost their raison d’être in the realities of democracy. And yet they were maintained and became the foundation of the Third Republic. And, as I said, we saw the dangers of this, but the conviction that history was over, and that there could be no war, made any rational debate on the subject completely impossible. It was like wasting our breath. 

    But what exactly are you Mr President talking about? About the fact that our military and services in a situation like the one we are facing now cannot be switched to what we would call pre-war readiness mode?

    It is not a question of being able to be put in a particular state, but of being able to face such great challenges as we are facing today concerning the war in a neighbouring country. I cannot, of course, describe the issue with concrete examples, because that is impossible for security reasons. But I am signalling the problem, the structure of our defence in the broadest sense. Not only must the army be increased in numbers and heavily rearmed with the most modern equipment – which, after all, is happening on an unprecedented, even astonishing scale to our allies – but the entire state must undergo a profound transformation making it as effective as possible to operate in a situation of heightened threat or real danger. 

    Concluding on the subject of war, we still have to ask for an assessment of the condition in which the Russian Federation finds itself.

    It has been shifted into war mode. It is certainly not in a good state, but in a bad and deteriorating one, and one might also think that support for the war is declining, but these are probably processes over which the authorities are still in control. It seems that they are not able to carry out a broad mobilisation, they have to reckon with certain public sentiments, and this distinguishes the situation of this regime from the Stalinist system, but they are still able to conduct warfare. There is also every indication that they are reviewing their immediate objectives, but there is no sign that they are prepared to give up even the incorporation of part of Ukrainian territory into their state. 

    How do you assess the Scholtz- Macron- Putin talks?

    There is very little understanding of this. 

    Is this a prelude to peace negotiations?

    I do not think so. Please remember that these two countries have been involved for years in a concept which, at its most far-reaching, boils down to this: from Lisbon to Vladivostok. The absence of Russia in this arrangement completely blows it apart. And that means that the effects of decades of implementing this Eurasian concept – these pipelines, all other economic ventures – are just turning to rubble. They are most likely trying to bring about such a situation that it is possible to return to what it was after all.

    Is that possible?

    In my view, it is not. But they, i.e., the German Chancellor and the French President, think otherwise. 

    Mr President, last year there were a number of events occurring almost simultaneously, which, cumulatively, were to lead to the collapse of the government, i.e., the attempt to break up the ruling majority, the ‘śluza’ operation, the return of Tusk (former Prime Minister – ed.), the aggravation of the situation regarding the KPO and the aggression of the EU institutions. In a word, chaos in Poland on the eve of war.

    I see it somewhat differently. It was indeed about the fall of the government, but those who were the real scriptwriters of this enterprise deluded themselves until the last moment that there would be no war. In a word, they wanted to seize power in our country for another reason – it was an operation under the title of a common European state under German leadership. In a word, after four decades we would fall under another domination. They know perfectly well that as long as we are in power, we will not allow it, so they are doing everything to bring about a change of power in Poland because Tusk will enter their concept without a blink of an eye and end Poland’s sovereign existence. Not even his hand will tremble. This is in fact what he has returned for. To carry out the project of building a German European state in our country. Of course, from the Berlin perspective, the so-called ‘Śluza’ Operation, i.e., the plan to flood Poland with thousands of people, was a favourable circumstance because it generated confusion in our country. But it was undoubtedly a Russian action aimed at preparing the ground for an attack on Ukraine. The idea was to destabilise the situation in Poland so that we would not have the opportunity to support the Ukrainians as we did. They were assuming, it can be said today, in the event of success, to push several hundred thousand or even more migrants across our border. I don’t know on what basis, but in Moscow, because it was not decided in Minsk, they assumed that we would either not be able to defend ourselves against this, or that we would not be able to defend ourselves. And they were sorely mistaken. Today, I can also reveal that all the actions we carried out – apart from the imposition of a state of emergency along the border – were planned and prepared long before any people tried to break into Polish territory. I wanted to tell the Sejm about the real purpose of the so-called ‘Śluza’ Operation, but on the day of the speech, I had health problems. At the time, I wanted to say to the PMs: you must be aware that this is a fragment of a much larger operation.

    And why did you not want to say outright that this was a prelude to war?

    I knew that the authorities in Kyiv did not want to cause panic and an even greater withdrawal of capital than had been the case before.

    But then you already knew that war would break out.

    Yes, we knew. Although I can also already say that certain analyses suggested for quite a long time that the actions pointing to Ukraine as the target of aggression could have been a so-called masikirovka and that the real direction of the attack was to the north. Of course, with time the situation became more and more obvious and unambiguous

    Were the Russians surprised by Poland’s decisiveness and preparation to repel the attack?

    To my knowledge, they were. Although, as everyone well remembers, the opposition did not help us in this defence. I am speaking as gently as I can. It gave the impression at times that it was partly involved in the plan. But this is not the time or place to elaborate on that now.

    Will there come a time to discuss it?

    I hope so.

    There is also one positive message from what you say – the Russians have a problem making a correct assessment of the situation. They assumed that Poland would not defend itself against the ‘Śluza’ Operation, but they also assumed that they would subjugate the whole of Ukraine in two months at the most and capture its capital in less than two weeks.

    They are wrong, and very seriously wrong. They were wrong about our response and completely wrong in their assessment of Ukraine’s defence capabilities and the attitude of its people towards them. Not only that. They have failed to properly assess the combat capability of their own army. After all, only two types of Russian formations have done reasonably well in Ukraine, the combat capabilities of the others are at a mediocre level.

    Mr President, the ruling party has defended Minister Zbigniew Ziobro. The opposition lost the vote of no confidence. However, during the debate on the motion, your political opponents used quotes against the head of Solidary Poland party from an interview with the head of the government, which portrayed his work as a string of disasters. How does such a public brawl serve to mobilise voters?

    This is how it happens in a democracy, but I will say a completely banal thing – we must remain united if we want to win. I understand ambition. I understand different assessments of different issues, but everyone has to answer the question: what is our objective? The accomplishment of the former, or to quibble about the latter, or to win and stay in power. I know Minister Ziobro’s position and I know the Prime Minister’s opinion on European policy. However, we need to look at our negotiations more broadly, because their outcome has an impact not only on the mobilisation or blocking of specific funds but on our economic image. We are, as a country, in two main types of entanglement. One is the Union, the other is the global market. Certain activities in the EU have to be carried out not for the sake of the Community institutions, but for the sake of our image in the global economic space. This pays off for us, even if we strongly believe that EU decisions are not substantive. I have the impression that Minister Zbigniew Ziobro is neglecting this aspect.  

    Mr President, the court has ordered you to publish an apology and has ordered you to pay more than PLN 700,000 for it. 

    Let me be more precise. This is not a court judgment. I was sentenced by a German company because it was the company which made up its mind that I should pay this much, and the court accepted it. Anyway, in the course of the trial, this company changed the rate I was to pay them several times. They started with PLN 47,000 and ended up with over PLN 700,000. At the time, their competitors, when asked by my lawyers how much such a publication would cost them, stated that PLN 43 thousand. If anyone would like to imagine what relations would look like in a possible German European state, this case is a clue – the Polish court will pass a sentence and the Germans will add their own to it. You won’t even need a German judge, just a German company. 

    A few days ago, a poll emerged in which Civic Platform (PO) has an advantage over Law and Justice party (PiS). Even one political science professor proclaimed that you have lost the election, one only wonders how much.

    This poll is a manipulation. I know exactly our support and fluctuates between 32 and 36 per cent. Civic Platform has 10 per cent less. I want to be properly understood. I don’t think that today we would win the elections absolutely, that is, we would have an independent majority. But there are no elections today. With 10 months to go, we have a huge opportunity to do that.

    Do you think you have a chance of staying in power?

    Of course. And I rate it as very, very real. More real than our opponents winning and them forming a government. We must be determined and mobilised. Paradoxically, the biggest challenge we have to face is the lack of faith of part of our milieu in winning and maintaining the government. And it is a lack of faith based on a rather irrational premise. For some reason, some people have come to believe that it is impossible to remain in power in Poland for more than two terms. They have allowed themselves to be persuaded by such an absurd and very damaging message, and it has no corroboration in European history. There are plenty of examples of multi-term governments. A group of people have allowed themselves to be persuaded that this cannot happen. Such a negative message is being sown to them by the media, such as the aforementioned portal that condemned me to PLN 700,000 fine. Unfortunately, we are dealing with a counterfactual reality served up by a section of the media.

    Is there still a media at all?

    Formally, yes. And as far as the facts are concerned, it is difficult to answer your question in any other way than ‘no.’ 

    This is a judgment of the first instance, so the invalid one. Do you, Mr President, have the sum to pay the German company’s claim?

    I do not. I will be forced to sell the house; I don’t even know if this will be enough as I own one-third of the house I live in. Thank you in advance for organising collections to support me, I know that these initiatives come from a sincere heart and understanding of the situation in Poland, but I will not accept any support. 

    Mr President, in the first reading, the Sejm gave the green light to a commission whose aim will be to verify Russian influence on various activities of state institutions during the rule of the PO-PSL and then the United Right. But the opposition claims that the purpose of setting up this commission is to deprive Tusk of his right to hold public office. Even Rokita called this commission a dangerous pre-election tool.

    I don’t understand Jan Rokita’s attitude here. I simply do not know what he means. The aim of the committee is to clarify whether Russia has influenced the actions of our state, and that should be everyone’s priority. Europe has become dependent on Moscow. We know that high-ranking politicians have gone straight from the office to companies with Russian capital. The actions of Tusk, Sikorski and Komorowski raise many questions. A great deal of documentation has recently appeared in the public space indicating that, for some reason, these gentlemen were pushing Poland into Russian hands. Let us clarify. After all, we have nothing to hide. Our governments will be checked as well. We are calm. They are running amok. The Commission will be working for a long time because the scope of its work is very, very extensive. 

    Will the United Right – as it is today – run in the autumn elections?

    I believe it will, and the vote on Minister Zbigniew Ziobro only reassures me of this belief.

    Is there a prospect of widening its composition?

    I am not ruling it out. The basis is certainly the coalition that is behind the government today.

    Sometimes behind the government, there is also the environment of Paweł Kukiz.

    Personally, I like him very much. He is a nice man; we talk very well in private. He appreciates my vocal talent, which particularly won me (laugh). But the priorities of this environment are very difficult to implement and even impossible with this constitution. Magistrates as they are known in the UK, or the United States are not transferable to Poland. In the original, a justice of the peace is a man endowed with authority who is elected to decide simple matters between people. He does not have to be a lawyer. If he is not, then he gets a legal assistant. But in our system, only a judge can judge. So even if we were to pass the proposed legislation, these Polish magistrates would have nothing in common with those in America. Nothing but a name. Talks on the matter are still ongoing, we will see where they lead us.  

    Dear Prime Minister, we are learning about another change in the law on judges to bring us closer or even guarantee the payment of KPO funds. But people can feel confused, because once they learn that we have already fulfilled all the conditions, then this is not true. The next time, there are declarations of “not a step backwards,” because they are cheating, and in a few weeks’ time there is information – we are changing the law again. Do you believe they will pay us this money?

    I will believe it when I see it. But I know that we have to talk because at the end of the day we deserve this money.

    So, it pays us to continue negotiations for other reasons.

    Exactly yes, for financial reasons. Because if the negotiations are ongoing then the markets are not going crazy, slamming the door would cost us huge sums of money and I will admit frankly that I am surprised that Zbigniew Ziobro does not understand this, or understands it and for some reason does not want to admit it. 

    And does his criticism have any basis? How do you assess it?

    There is some rationale behind the argument that Germany should not have been allowed to have a conditionality mechanism on its agenda. It had been proposed two years earlier, but no presidency wanted to adopt it because it was clearly – and this has been confirmed by numerous expert reports by the EC’s legal service – incompatible with the treaties. No one wanted to deal with it before for precisely this reason, but Berlin did. On the issue of passing the budget and the KPO (National Recovery Plan – ed.), there was a real threat that they would get around our objections anyway by passing a provisional budget, signing an intergovernmental agreement, and blasting us in Poland with the message that we had deprived the Poles of the EU budget. So, nothing here is so obvious and the choice almost always means looking for the lesser evil. 

    And FIT for 55?

    There is doubt about the legitimacy of consent too, but there are also arguments proving that they would circumvent our opposition. 

    So, let’s return to this latest development, which has resulted in a proposal to change the law on the Supreme Court and the NSA. How do you assess the chances that the Commission will recognise our milestones once the next amendment to the Supreme Court Act is passed?

    This matter is the subject of serious controversy in Poland so I cannot comment on it at the moment. The enactment of the law would probably, but not certainly, be considered as their fulfilment, but the consequences in Poland could be extremely destructive, not only for the judiciary but for the entire state apparatus and could harm Poland’s receipt of the main funds from the 2021-2027 budget perspective.

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