Poland’s conservative Law and Justice party has been in government for less than a week, but it’s already at neighboring Germany’s throat, rekindling memories of the last time it was in power.
In an interview with TVN24, the new interior minister, Mariusz Błaszczak, took the German president of the European Parliament, Martin Schulz, to task for criticizing Poland’s immigration policy.
Błaszczak said Schulz’ comments were “another example of German arrogance” and felt it necessary to invoke World War II.
“We are talking in Warsaw,” he pointed out. “Warsaw was destroyed by the Germans.”
After Islamic terrorists killed more than 130 people in Paris on Friday, Poland said it would no longer accept asylum seekers from the Middle East.
Schulz, a Social Democrat, accused the Poles of double standards.
“When Poland feels threatened by Russia and demands weapons, soldiers and funds, then Europe shows its solidarity,” he said. “Then in such a situation it is not possible to suddenly come along and say refugees are solely a German problem which has nothing to do with us.”
While the two issues may only be connected in the minds of Europhiles like Schulz, Błaszczak’s reaction was certainly over the top and did little to reassure liberals inside and outside Poland that this Law and Justice government will be any less hysterical than the last.
The party previously ruled from 2005 to 2007 under the brothers Jarosław and Lech Kaczyński. The two never missed an opportunity to offend the Germans, even though they are Poland’s biggest trading partners.
The Civic Platform government that succeeded them strengthened ties with Berlin and presided over both a growing economy and a growing Polish influence in Brussels. Their party leader, Donald Tusk, was elected president of the European Council last year.
Law and Justice has put up a friendlier face. Andrzej Duda, who was elected president in May, and Beata Szydło, the new prime minister, are from a younger generation than the Kaczyńskis, one that is less obsessed with events from seventy years ago. But Jarosław is still party leader and seen as the power behind the throne.