Manfred Weber, the German politician and leader of the European People’s Party (EPP), has angered Polish government officials after declaring that his party is the only power capable of “replacing” Poland’s ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party and leading the country “back to Europe.”
In an interview with the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Weber added that he would like to build a “firewall against Law and Justice.”
“We advocate a course that excludes radicals. AfD, Marine Le Pen, these are our political enemies,” Weber said. “I have formulated three conditions for any cooperation: for Europe, for Ukraine, for the rule of law. In this way, we are building a firewall against Law and Justice. We are the only force that can replace Law and Justice in Poland and lead the country back to Europe,” he added.
Later in the interview, Weber said that “Law and Justice belongs to the camp of our political opponents. The anti-Tusk law, Article 7 procedure, the appointment of compliant judges — they are placing themselves outside the democratic discourse and aligning themselves with AfD and Le Pen,” he claimed.
Weber’s statements sparked outrage in Poland. Poland’s Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki called the remarks “scandalous” while the government’s spokesman said they are an example of how German politicians are trying to influence this autumn’s Polish parliamentary elections by bringing the opposition and its leader Donald Tusk to power.
Polish State Assets Minister Jacek Sasin reacted to the words of the German politician on Twitter. “Mr. Weber, it is the Poles who decide who governs in our homeland. Berlin has nothing to say about it,” he wrote.
Sebastian Kaleta, deputy justice minister and member of the Sovereign Poland party, accused Germany of attempting to create a puppet government in Poland, and criticized Tusk for supporting a migration pact that favors Germany at the expense of Poland.
Polish MEP Adam Bielan spoke about Weber’s statement during a press conference and thanked the German politician “for a moment of honesty.” Bielan expressed concerns over the German elites’ vision for the EU, which involves moving away from unanimity and potentially depriving Poland of its veto right in foreign and tax policy.
Bielan emphasized Poland’s refusal to agree to such changes and concluded that he believes the Polish people will not choose a politician like Tusk, who would likely accept such alterations to the treaty.
Manfred Weber, who assumed leadership of the EPP from Donald Tusk in May 2022, has previously criticized the PiS government on multiple occasions. “I say this to our friends in Poland: We are fighting for the rule of law with Donald Tusk,” he said.
Earlier, he expressed concerns over “the risky nature of Poland’s current government policies,” stating that those who permanently reject judicial independence are effectively distancing themselves from the European Union. “If we want to prevent this scenario, readiness for dialogue is right and good. However, we must also be unwavering,” he said in another interview in 2021.