It is unfair to criticize Poland for making political appointments within its judicial system when this is standard practice in the West, Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said in an interview with Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ).
He cited the case of senior former Christian Democratic Union (CDU) politician Stephan Harbath being appointed to head up the German Constitutional Court and Petr Angyalossy in the Czech Republic.
“Incidentally, I have not been able to determine that the recent appointments of court presidents in the Czech Republic or Germany have been so extensively commented and criticized by the EU Commission in Brussels; I am thinking of Petr Angyalossy in the Czech Republic or the former CDU politician Stephan Harbarth, who is now leading the Federal Constitutional Court,” said Morawiecki.
This week, Poland formed its first conservative Supreme Court since it became an independent 30 years ago following the appointment of new Chief Justice Małgorzata Manowska, a move that is raising consternation among liberal forces opposed to Poland’s conservative government.
“The organization of the courts is one of the sovereign decisions of the EU member states. Poland, in the spirit of its constitution, is organizing the judiciary within the framework of the European treaties in such a way that it becomes honest, transparent and efficient,” said Morawiecki.
The Polish prime minister pointed to the many communist-era judges that still remain in Poland, which have never been removed from the court system despite their cooperation with communist authorities. Unlike Germany, Poland never had a chance to address this problem.
“Poland is open to dialogue on these issues, but it must be conducted in a spirit of respect for law and historical conditions. After German unification, the judges and prosecutors from the former GDR were examined and only 30 percent of them remained in office. In Poland, we never had the chance to clean our system out in such a manner,” stated Morawiecki.
Morawiecki also reacted to questions about Poland holding its presidential election in the middle of a pandemic.
He acknowledged that it is a challenge for the authorities, but other countries such as Germany, France and Switzerland have also had to hold elections in these circumstances.