Jan Cienski in Warsaw -
More bombshell revelations are shaking the Polish government as the Wprost weekly continues to publish illegal recordings of top government officials obtained in Warsaw restaurants – this time the most embarrassing revelations come from Radoslaw Sikorski, the foreign minister. As speculation grows about the source of the recordings, the focus is on who would benefit from destabilising the government at a time when Poland is playing a central role in the EU response to Russia's aggression against Ukraine.
In a January conversation with former finance minister Jacek Rostowski, Sikorski says that the “Polish-American alliance is worthless”. In the colourful language that has become a hallmark of the recordings, Sikorski goes on to say, “It's complete bullshit. We'll get into a conflict with the Germans and the Russians and we'll think that everything is super because we gave the Americans a blowjob. Losers. Complete losers.”
The foreign ministry said it would not comment until all the recordings are made public. US officials also raced to send the message that Polish-US ties would not be damaged by the recordings. “I’m not going to comment on alleged content of private conversations. As for our alliance, I think it’s strong,” tweeted Stephen Mull, the US ambassador in Warsaw.
Wprost also published a series of other conversations from a list that includes Jacek Krawiec, head of PKN Orlen, the country's largest oil refiner; Treasury Minister Wojciech Karpinski; the former government spokesman Pawel Gras; and others.
The magazine would only identify the source of the recordings as a “businessman”. Apparently, the latest dump of recordings was received on June 19, sent by someone identifying themselves as “Patriot”. The magazine’s editor said that the only fragments not published involved private aspects of the conversations.
Who is the source?
The first recordings released a week ago dropped a bomb on the government of prime minister Donald Tusk, revealing that Interior Minister Bartlomiej Sienkiewicz had met with the central bank governor Marek Belka to sound him out about getting the bank to act if the economy soured before next year's parliamentary elections, putting a third win for Civic Platform in doubt. In what looks like a violation of the apolitical nature of his appointment, Belka agreed to help.
However, the latest recordings seem to have much less of a public policy background and are raising serious questions in Warsaw as to who would have sat on them for months before making them public now. They seem to have been made in conjunction with waiters working at various swish Warsaw restaurants popular with off-duty politicians, but there is worry that they are being aimed at destabilising the government at a time when Poland is playing a key role in firming up the EU response to Russia's aggression against Ukraine.
While individual heads may roll over the recordings – Sienkiewicz's position appears to be very insecure – the government is unlikely to fall. It has a parliamentary majority together with its smaller coalition partner from the Polish People's Party, and despite opposition calls for a new technocratic government, Tusk does not have to call early elections.
Civic Platform is trailing the opposition Law and Justice party in recent opinion polls, so there is little incentive for Tusk to go to voters this year as his party stands a good chance of losing. Parliamentary elections are scheduled for next year.
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