The leader of Poland’s ruling PiS party, Jarosław Kaczyński, has recalled his first visit to Western Europe in 1989 and revealed how that convinced him the West was rather alien to Poland.
Speaking at the Karpacz Economic Forum, Kaczyński recalled how Poland came to join the EU. He acknowledged that the primary aim was to access European markets and funds, saying that there just seemed to be no other way for Poland to develop.
However, even then, it was widely acknowledged that there was a culture gap between Poland and Western Europe. Kaczyński himself recalled noticing it in Vienna in 1989 during his visit. “When I saw things that I have no wish to describe here, it dawned on me that I was in a different cultural zone.“
This is why, he argued, Poland entered the EU on an understanding that it was not going to accept wholesale these different cultural norms. There was a parliamentary motion on maintaining cultural sovereignty, and it was understood that there would be no interference from EU institutions on matters of culture and conscience.
The trouble is, however, that Germany seems to be attempting to build a Europe in its own image using its economic strength and clout in the EU, he warned. He reminded his audience of the idea of “Mitteleuropa,” which was behind the war aims of World War I and consisted of the assumed dominance of the Prussian Empire over Central Europe, annexation of its territories, and exploitation and germanization of its peoples. Poland was to be independent yet subordinate to Germany. Kaczyński claimed this is the vision that Germany has now returned to and must be resisted by Poland.
The ruling party leader believes that Poland and Ukraine’s greatest allies are Britain and the United States, but not in cultural terms, where both have in many ways gone even further than many countries in Western Europe. Yet the alliance is strong because it is based on mutual respect for each other’s different values.
Kaczyński said that President Biden has radical views on many cultural matters, and Poland would not dream of asking him to change them, but Poland is arm in arm with both the USA and Britain in supporting Ukraine in its resistance to Russian aggression.