“This was condemning a large part of Poland to Russian occupation, or perhaps simply condemning Poland to occupation because the Vistula line would also be too weak. This would have had certain political consequences for Western countries. The question would have to be, what next for Poland, does it need to be truncated? After all, the Russians believed that they were the ones who made concessions after the Second World War. It looks as if they are agreeing to liquidate the Polish state within its present borders. This was Tusk’s policy,” says Prime Minister Jarosław Kaczyński in an interview with Katarzyna Gójska and Tomasz Sakiewicz for “Gazeta Polska.”
Prime Minister, are you satisfied with the results of the election campaign? It is noticeable that PiS is on an upward trend, Tusk’s party is the opposite. A decline in the Confederation’s ratings is also noticeable. We are talking exactly one month before the elections.
We have intensified our campaign and decided that apart from presenting our achievements and omaszprogramme proposals, we will try to make voters aware of what the return of the Tusk team’s rule will end up with. Some of them no longer remember those times, and many are too young to remember them well, which is why we are showing how the Civic Platform governed Poland and how it would possibly manage the affairs of the state if it succeeded in taking power. We would also like to show what Poland has lost during their two terms in office. If an effective fiscal policy, a fight against mafias stealing from the budget, a pro-family policy – such as we have been implementing – had been in place for 16 rather than eight years, our country would be at a different level of prosperity and security. Please notice that Tusk and his people governed almost comfortably. In their time there was one, as you can see from today’s perspective, minor crisis. In ours – two massive ones, and yet we were able to increase GDP incomparably more than they did. They abolished Open Pension Funds (the so-called OFE – ed.), raised the retirement age, and increased VAT during the crisis, we gave companies a shield, thanks to which jobs were saved, and we are continuing social programmes, in the new term, when we deal with the effects of the pandemic and the war, we will want to introduce the possibility of seniority pensions. In addition to all this, the Tusk environment has a powerful media that has effectively become their electoral machinery. To reach the voters with our message, we have to show not only our offer but also the truth about our competitors.
Will the outcome of the election be settled by undecided voters?
It is certainly very, very crucial for us to convince at least some of them.
How large is the undecided group, and what proportion of them are prepared to vote for PiS?
No one probably knows the precise answer. Estimates vary. I can say a dozen or so percent. It is difficult to say unequivocally how many of these still hesitant voters are ready to support us, and how many of them are closest to us. I know calculations that say it is quite a large percentage, but I also know of those indicating only a few percent. One thing is certain – convincing even a small proportion will bring us closer to victory, even if everyone else crosses the electoral threshold.
By victory you mean an absolute majority?
Exactly. I can say that today the outlook is much better than it was a month ago. But that must not prompt you to reduce your commitment. It is necessary, I repeat, to fight for every voter’s trust. To the very end.
And if a few votes fall short of a majority?
Then we will certainly not give up the chance to build a majority. But it will be very difficult. Every voter who doesn’t want Tusk and his people to return to power should vote for us, even if they don’t like everything about us, even if they have a grudge against us. We are a political force that can admit its mistakes and learn from them, and this is not common in politics. There is a saying: you can be angry, but don’t be unwise. Do not support, even indirectly, those who will bring you misfortune.
You estimate that the Confederation would sooner get along with Tusk or his appointee than with you.
In some variants it certainly does. Perhaps not explicitly, but in some construct, I consider such an alliance very likely. Let me repeat again – if there are those who do not want Tusk’s elite to return to power, they will be guaranteed to block them if they support Law and Justice.
Mr Prime Minister, before the presidential election, the Civic Platform (PO) swapped its candidate. Four weeks before the election, is it possible to swap Tusk for Trzaskowski, for example, or is that unrealistic? This would of course mean that the PO, and perhaps Berlin, assesses the campaign so far as ineffective.
I think they are aware of the ineffectiveness of the current campaign. They know that they are in a crisis situation and that Tusk is a thoroughly discredited politician. Proving that he is a man who has nothing to do with Poland’s dignity and sovereignty, that he was Angela Merkel’s errand man, is really not difficult. On the contrary, it can be shown with thousands of examples. It is just as easy to present evidence of the harmfulness of his policies, of his disregard for the fate of ordinary Poles – the example of his treatment of pensioners is eye-watering. Many more points can be added to this list of Tusk’s disgraces, including the selling off of state assets, often not only against Poland’s interests but also on shady terms. Unfortunately, the prosecutor’s office under PO was paralysed, the services likewise, and the courts did them no harm either. In a word, a system was created in Poland that was very beneficial for our neighbours from the east and west, but tragic for us. In the episode entitled ‘President Reset’ of the series ‘Reset,’ the agreement between Poland and Russia on security was made public. It is, after all, a classic consultative agreement on the principle of senior partner – Moscow, and junior partner – Warsaw. It is a classic asymmetrical arrangement between two states. At Germany’s behest, Poland has been reduced by Tusk and Komorowski to the position of a junior partner of Russia. That is, a state that has to consult the Kremlin on all issues concerning security in the broadest sense, including relations with other NATO members. Years ago, I said in an interview with ‘Gazeta Polska’ that these people had made us look like a German-Russian condominium. There was a scandal at the time, I was shunned after those words, and today it turns out that they were true.
Everything the Prime Minister said is an argument for a swap. However, you are expecting it.
I do not rule it out. I do not know for sure. The point is that Trzaskowski is Tusk’s man, from his team. Tusk may say that he is handing over the power to him, that he will be Civic Platform’s candidate for prime minister, but it doesn’t matter. Because, first of all, who can bet his arm that this will be the case for sure, and secondly – Trzaskowski is another version of Tusk. He would carry out the same policies as him, he would not have the slightest resistance to implement the instructions from Berlin, even those concerning fraternising with Russia. Apart from everything, the gentlemen also share an aversion to hard work. And believe me, running a government is a terribly demanding task. Here, a lazy person will fail, he will screw things up. In the case of the mayor of Warsaw, there is the question of the massive rubbish scandal and irregularities in tenders. Mr Trzaskowski has not explained himself.
In presidential elections a specific person is indicated, in parliamentary elections, a party is indicated. These are completely different circumstances. A swap may prove ineffective.
It may also cause aggravation, and it may actually have a disintegrating effect on the environment, in which case it will do more harm than good. Let me remind you that in 2020, even though Trzaskowski was in a comfortable position because he took part in a very short campaign, he only won just over 30 per cent of the vote in the first round, not much more than the PO polls now show. He is not a man of great breakthrough. Besides, all the activity of this environment was built on Tusk. His return is like a saviour, a cult of a leader or rather some kind of guru because this formation gives the impression not of a party but of a sect. Tusk built something like this and he would have to let someone else in at the last hurdle? They live in some kind of imaginary world as if they are out of touch with normal reality. They talk about gigantic unemployment, about Poland in ruins, about a shrinking economy. Where they get this from, I don’t know. After all, all the available data in the world shows that it is exactly the opposite. PO politicians, like members of a sect, don’t understand anything. It is impossible to talk to them about anything normally because all they do is shout, challenge and confabulate.
Senate Speaker Tomasz Grodzki, who has been “in hiding” for more than 900 days from charges of corruption and involvement in an organised crime group, stood up to the alleged bribery of the Law and Justice Party.
It seems that Donald Tusk likes dark humour.
You know him better than we do. Perhaps indeed…
Let’s not exaggerate. I knew him, yes, but not very well and I wasn’t fond of him. I knew a little about him from Leszek, who knew him much better. But I admit that I did not notice that he had a distinctive sense of humour.
It means that Grodzki in the role of anti-corruption service is for real after all. The Speaker of the Senate is “hiding” behind immunity, and there have been numerous statements in the public space by people accusing him of setting up a system to extort bribes for treatment in the public health service. This matter is very serious.
If such a Grodzki were in our ranks, I can assure you that he would cease to be Speaker in no time and would not have the slightest chance of standing. Nobody would have allowed him to shirk his responsibility. But in the Tusk circle, everything is the other way round. A man who is accused of abhorrent corruption is created as a paragon of honesty and is portrayed as such by the people in the media. Some voters can be manipulated. Bombarded with untrue information, they will eventually succumb to it because they cannot bear the cognitive dissonance between the media reality and the true one. This is a well-known and well-described psychological mechanism of denial, which can be used for manipulation. In parts of the media operating in our country – which are part of the so-called total opposition – it is omnipresent.
Does it surprise you, Prime Minister, to see such documents as the note from the Merkel-Tusk conversation about the need to increase the retirement age for Poles or the summary of the conversation between the German Chancellor and Bronisław Komorowski in Moscow about Tusk’s merits in the policy of reset with Russia and his excellent reaction to Smolensk?
I have no doubt whatsoever that the entire foreign policy of Poland during Tusk’s premiership was subordinated to his private interest. On the truth tapes, the Civic Platform chairman’s people say that he wants to be a big teddy bear. In order to realise this dream of his, Tusk had to have strong German support, without which he had not the slightest chance of getting any positions. He got less than he wanted anyway because he certainly fought for the head of the commission and that failed. However, Tusk had to repay Berlin’s support by pursuing a policy favourable to Germany. And he willingly returned the favour.
Illegal migrants storm Italy’s Lampedusa. The government in Rome announces its own decree on security, as it believes EU policy has fallen. Can this next crisis trigger change towards illegal migrants across the EU?
The EU has made big mistakes in its migration policy that have worsened the quality of life for a large part of its citizens and will try to calm public sentiment in countries where the migration crisis is out of control. And this will be at the expense of countries like Poland. Our opposition blocked forced relocation with the first wave of migrants eight years ago, but if the government in Poland were to change, they would want to return to it. Today, this issue is being decided, so we need a strong electoral mandate and support for opposition to relocation in a referendum so that they know in Brussels that there is a veto from the Poles behind our opposition. I urge you to vote in as large a number as possible on 15 October. We must defend ourselves against what they are preparing for countries like Poland.
We read accounts from Lampedusa. Illegal refugees have broken out. People tell us that they are afraid to move around the island even when they are in their homes. The vast majority of those who have arrived are young men.
And the PO pretends not to distinguish between legal and illegal migration. As long as we are in power, people will be able to leave their homes safely without fear of attacks from people from different cultural backgrounds.
Will this situation we are facing now – which affects not only Italy but also Spain or Greece – only intensify the European Union’s attempts to introduce forced relocation? Because these countries will want to get rid of these people.
I do not doubt that just as they did not want to support us with the migration crisis from Ukraine, they will now invoke solidarity. The migratory pressure is concentrated on Italy at the moment, although perhaps the Greek front will be opened again, it depends on Turkey. Since these countries are announcing that they will not accept any more migrants, there are two options: either large-scale deportations of these people back or forcing other countries to accept them. The only effective method in the long run is to turn them back, and very consistently. Because then the whole business – because, after all, it is also a business – will simply collapse. As I said in that speech, I gave in 2015, the first time I put such a strong counter to this issue in the Sejm, an honest programme to help these people on the ground is necessary, it really has to be done. It’s just that it’s more difficult now because Africa today is about 1.5 billion people. Even if tens of billions of euros were earmarked for them, it would still only be spot aid. Hundreds of billions would have to be spent on general aid every year. And to ensure that it is used honestly and not to do pathological business. Of course, then some will say that this is neo-colonialism. A dangerous, menacing and essentially idiotic mechanism has been created here. But these measures must be taken because the alternative is the end of European civilisation. It would not be able to withstand the influx of hundreds of millions of people.
It is difficult to imagine a situation in which the European Union will be turning back boats heading for the borders of the Member States.
I am talking about taking these people back to where they came from. Some smaller countries are already trying to do this, to organise points where they are vetted. There is no other way to deal with it.
Mr. Prime Minister, it seems that this immigration crisis is largely the result of Mrs von der Leyen’s policy. Because the European Union has not only done nothing about it, but it has also actually encouraged this new wave by talking again about relocation. It motivated these people to do what they are doing now. On top of this, the Union made a dramatic mistake when it came to grain exports from Ukraine because instead of creating opportunities for further exports to Africa, where there is a shortage of food, they wanted to ‘cook’ us with these grain exports.
Von der Leyen should learn from the crisis that she herself largely caused. I agree that these statements about relocation were an incentive. One has to ask oneself about the motivations for such actions. Also, nothing was done to support Poland in the creation of a transport line, primarily rail, for the transport of grain. It was necessary to build grain ports in Gdansk and Swinoujscie. This should have been rebuilt so that not a few million tonnes, but tens of millions of tonnes of grain could have been handled annually. And then, although this transport would be more expensive than via the Black Sea and the Mediterranean, it could be done. Only these agroports would have to be built, and this is where EU aid would come in handy. The silos would have to be built, but that is done quickly nowadays because they are built of sheet metal, metal and not concrete. All this could be done for ten or so billion euros in aid, if it were treated as a European project, of course with a Polish contribution commensurate with our capabilities and what we have already done, and the matter would already be settled. Ukrainian grain could be exported, and Africa would not be threatened by famine.
Prime Minister, what is the extent of the visa scandal publicised by the media? The opposition is talking about hundreds of thousands of foreigners.
The real figure is several hundred applications for visas, a large proportion of which have not been granted. These applications were rejected at the stage of their verification. This issue is de facto marginal. And the opposition, together with the media supporting it, is trying to give it some more prominence. The services came across a trace of these irregularities last year in the summer, they managed to get to the people responsible for these actions and the first arrests were in March. Later still some people were arrested, but of course, I don’t know the details because I have no right to know them.
The opposition demands the resignation of Minister Zbigniew Rau.
The opposition constantly demands various resignations, it is a constant ploy. The authorities did what they should have done, which is to say, there was an investigation going on, which started from a point quite far away, where traces of corruption were found. Minister Rau’s current decisions, regarding outsourcing contracts, are the right ones. These were contracts that were introduced when Radosław Sikorski was head of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the practice originated in late communist Poland. This company, which operated in Poland, also had agreements with several other countries. In any case, this has to be stopped. But I reiterate that the scope of this concerns a hundred or so visas, i.e., from Poland’s perspective without much significance. The reaction of the government and the services is what it should be. That is, exactly the opposite of what the Civic Platform does in similar situations. In our case – resignations, arrests, charges and, in time, undoubtedly a criminal trial, they would shout that it was a political attack and defend people with suspicions, like Marshal Grodzki.
The Reset series revealed shocking facts about the defence of Poland on the Vistula and Wieprz lines under the PO and PSL governments. It was estimated that 10-14 days we were to hold out there because the enemy’s artillery fire superiority was so enormous. The same generals who created this concept at the time are today attacking the Law and Justice government for buying large numbers of artillery weapons. How is this to be understood?
There is only one way to understand this – these generals should never have been generals and should not have been in the army at all. And it should be up to the services to explain what this was all about. Where did this kind of concept of defence on the Vistula come from in the first place? And since the Vistula line would only be defensible temporarily, for a short time, perhaps the idea was realistically to defend only on the Oder and Neisse? So, in reality, we would only be defending Wrocław and possibly Poznań? Although with this Poznań would have been difficult, because it is the line of the Warta, and it is a winding and, in many places, small river. But without going into details, this was a concept that only someone in Moscow could come up with, wondering how to make Poland, which is theoretically in NATO, in reality, defended fictitiously. And that is exactly what was done. This is one big scandal, to be investigated in the mode that justice ultimately provides for.
Was this to condemn millions of Poles to the fate of the inhabitants of Bucha and Irpin?
Of course. It was condemning a large part of Poland to Russian occupation, or perhaps simply condemning Poland to occupation, as the Vistula line would also have been too weak. This would have had certain political consequences for the Western countries. The question would have to be, what next for Poland, does it need to be truncated? Because, after all, the Russians believe that it was they who made concessions after the Second World War. It looks as if they are agreeing to liquidate the Polish state within its present borders. This was the policy pursued by Tusk. Poles were told that an unarmed, sparse army was a supposedly modern army. Added to this was the idea that building an army to defend Poland was actually pointless, that all that mattered today were expeditionary tasks, somewhere in the world. And the time of great wars is over. And there would be no war with Russia. This was a myth, but it was believed so, even though Russia was arming itself all the time. And it made no secret of the fact that it was going to change the geopolitical balance of power. After all, Putin said this in Munich. But in our country, these ideas also involved agreeing to a gigantic robbing of the state. It was simply impossible to provide security effectively under this policy. We were constantly having to save on the army, even though there was no sign of this money going to other purposes, if only for families with children. After all, there was a great deal of poverty, which we then eradicated. And local Poland was neglected and swiped. The polarisation-diffusion concept was implemented, which did not do any good anywhere in the world and did not contribute to development. In its extreme form, it was applied in Russia, where people in a few large cities live at a higher level, while the rest exist as in the Soviet Union, including starvation. PO’s politicians first announced the polarisation-diffusion concept, then did not talk about it much for electoral reasons, but actually implemented it. That is, eastern Poland was thought of as Minister Włodzimierz Karpiński put it on the tapes. Only we managed to effectively start the development of local Poland and, if we continue to govern, we will close the gap between it and several major cities. It is worth noting that we have carried out a lot of local investment, even though taxes in Poland are low compared to France or Germany. Basically, we have increased budget revenues without raising taxes, so that is money for armaments and for helping ordinary people, no matter where they live.
Mr. Prime Minister, how is it then today? Fortunately, no one is attacking us militarily, but what is the real military strength of Poland, how has the Polish army changed?
The Polish army is in the process of changing. It has reached about 180,000 soldiers, but it should have at least 300,000. I would like it to have 350,000, but this also requires economic progress. Because these are huge expenses.
Are we able to defend ourselves at the border today in the event of aggression?
We are incomparably closer to this goal than before. Especially since Russia would not be able to throw significant forces at us due to the war in Ukraine.
What is the threat to our country from the east at the moment?
It is mainly hybrid. The Russians are certainly not now seeking to create a second front for themselves, still less any major one. They showed in Ukraine that they are much weaker than everyone thought. But they are learning. The Russian army is now fighting better than at the beginning of the war. They are trying to arm further, although embargoes are a big problem for them. They are buying ammunition and probably some more weapons from North Korea. From Iran, they are buying combat drones. They still have large stocks of gold and currency. The economic situation is deteriorating, but they still have a society that mostly supports the war. And it is certainly able to put up with a lot. Therefore, unless there is some kind of breakthrough, this war may unfortunately still last a few years. We know from our history that the Russians learn and draw conclusions during wars. Many of their strongholds that we conquered, we then lost and were no longer able to conquer them, even despite a long siege. At Klushino we won against them despite their tenfold advantage, but later, at Shklov, it was no longer possible. In the same way, the Ukrainians say that the Russian army is no longer running away today. And it was fleeing at the beginning of the war. The defence lines are strong, they use very intensive minesweeping. That is why American aid should be greater, with significant numbers of tanks and aircraft. America has the ability to provide weapons to destroy these lines because artillery fire is too weak for that.