Obama to discuss state of Polish democracy at Nato summit

By bne IntelliNews June 10, 2016

US President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry plan to discuss the “quality of democracy” in Poland during the upcoming Nato summit in Warsaw, a US official said on June 10.

The announcement will not be welcomed by Poland’s Law and Justice (PiS) government. The eurosceptic governing party is fighting a bitter battle against EU efforts to hold back its efforts to consolidate its grip on Polish institutions. However, the right-wing party makes no bones that it considers the US its most important international partner.

PiS is also pushing to get Washington to agree to station more troops and weapons in the region, pointing to what it says is the threat of renewed Russian imperial ambitions. The US is similarly worried about Moscow, but has made it clear that the tension only makes the EU and state of democracy more important across the region.

“As a country belong to the same democratic family and an ally, the United States are deeply concerned about Poland," a spokesman for the state department told Rzeczpospolita. "President Obama and Secretary of State Kerry are expecting discussion with Poland’s new political leadership about a variety of bilateral and multilateral issues. Among those issues there is the question of our concern with the quality of democracy in Poland.”

Warsaw has consistently denied there is any problem with democracy in Poland, claiming the issues such as the tussle over the Constitutional Tribunal (TK) or putting political control over public media, are internal matters that are not harmful to democracy. That, however, appears to be finding little understanding abroad, with the European Commission having issued a critical “opinion” recently of the state of the rule of law in Poland, as part of its ongoing probe, sparked by the TK controversy.

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