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People demonstrate in defense of media freedom in Warsaw, Poland, on Tuesday, Aug. 10, 2021. Poles demonstrated nationwide Tuesday against a bill widely viewed as a effort by the country's nationalist ruling party to silence an independent, U.S.-owned television broadcaster that is critical of the government.(AP Photo/Czarek Sokolowski)
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Opinion: Media law amendment is Poland’s attempt to conduct independent foreign policy

Polish elites have grown weary of Poland undertaking independent foreign policy initiatives, writes Rafał Woś, columnist for salon24.pl

editor: Grzegorz Adamczyk
author: Rafał Woś

There is no such thing as “lex TVN”, and talking and writing about it is merely a hassle. Of course, the staunchest core of the anti-PiS opposition really wants us all to believe that the “evil” PiS is afraid of the “good” liberal television TVN and wants to silence it. To achieve that short-sighted goal, Kaczyński and his people are allegedly ready to risk a diplomatic conflict with Poland’s great American ally.

We should not be dissuaded from assessing and describing the actual dynamics of the situation – without hysteria and without giving into environmental blackmail. Then we will see that the situation is exactly the opposite.

It is simply not the case that an insane government wants to silence American-owned TVN, thus risking a conflict with the powerful USA. Rather, what is true that the government is entering a conflict with the United States in an effort to show its American ally that it will not stand for continued mistreatment.

Where does TVN fit in all of this? TVN has found itself in this situation almost by accident, mainly due to the fact that it belongs to an American company. The fact that TVN is TVN (in other words, that a large part of PiS and its supporters think that the station has been carrying out an unjust crusade against them for years) is secondary.

Something else is more important here. The Polish Right has transformed from a traditional pro-American force to one which is the most critical of the US in Poland, right in front of our eyes. This is an incredible change to have taken place in recent years.

The Polish Right has transformed from a traditional pro-American force to one which is the most critical of the US in Poland, right in front of our eyes.

PiS’s diplomacy has discovered than an alliance with the United States is not really an alliance in the slightest. Instead, according to more sober analysis, it is payment for geopolitical protection. America probably doesn’t care who’s paying. All that matters is for the money to be on time (for example, in the form of armament orders) and for American interests to not be threatened. When they are, America stamps its foot without a care for diplomatic conventions.

The PiS government has already experienced this behavior in the form of the legendary interventions from former US Ambassador to Poland Georgette Mosbacher, and not only from her.

All of this has led to the aforementioned change, and we are witness to this change today. Of course, despite what its critics say, PiS is not a revolutionary party, and Kaczyński is not aiming to fundamentally change alliances in foreign policy. His ambition is to maintain current alliances, albeit on more equal terms.

A new generation has grown up in Poland for whom it is obvious that, if we have a free and sovereign country, then it is our responsibility to sovereignly design it – without eternally trying to please Europe, America or someone else.

This is not “nationalism” or “sword waving” but an expression of normal, civic maturity. Despite what one may think of PiS, it has started a new direction.

Nevertheless, questions such as “Is Poland allowed to conduct its own foreign policy? Or are we condemned to have to follow others forever?” will remain with Poles.

Even when both PiS and TVN will be long gone.

Title image: The pro-TVN demonstration in Warsaw, Poland, August 10, 2021. (source; AP Images)