The new prime minister, Donald Tusk, has announced that he will be dropping Poland’s opposition to Russia joining the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). President Lech Kaczynski complains that he has not been consulted, and only found out about this u-turn in foreign policy when he turned on the TV to watch the news.
And so we have the first spat in what will be a long running battle between president and government.
Presidents in Poland don’t have much of a role, day to day, but on foreign policy they do. The Kaczynski side is saying that by ignoring him, the new Civic Platform/Peasant’s Party coalition has acted unconstitutionally.
Platform’s Bronisław Komorowski responded that according to his interpretation, the constitution gives the government power to set foreign policy and stressed that it was premier and foreign minister who conducted Polish foreign policy, while the constitution only mentioned that the president should be consulted.
Well, they obviously forgot to consult him.
Relations with Russia – which goes to the polls in what looks like will be a not very free and fair election this weakened – have not been good over the last two years of the Law and Justice government, led by the President’s brother, Jarolsaw. When Donald Tusk was elected he vowed to improve them. So the OECD block will be dropped as a gesture of a more constructive Warsaw. Tusk obviously thinks it is better to have a bear in the tent pissing out, than outside pissing in.
He’s probably right.
It’s clear that foreign policy, however, will be one of the main battle grounds in this awkward ‘cohabitation’. It was announced today that the former government’s foreign minister, the hapless Anna Fotyga, will now head the Presidential Chancellery. I don’t think Donald Tusk should worry too much about that, though. Being politically attacked by Fotyga - who will advise Kaczynski on foreign affairs - will be like being savaged by a dead poodle.
Much talk has turned to the OECD – an organization that few gave a thought to in Poland before. What does it do? Who is in it? Is Poland in it?
One group of Poles that should know, however, are the nation’s politicians. But when asked by journalists what, in English, the letters OECD actually stand for (in Polish it’s OWGR) the results, as you can see in this video clip (it comes after a few seconds of two guys talking in the studio), were rather amusing.
Though, saying that, I bet quite a few British politicians couldn’t tell you either.
Thursday, November 29, 2007
Posted by beatroot at 11/29/2007