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I UNDERSTAND
English Section

Poland is 'battlefield between freedom and authoritarianism,' Warsaw mayor tells US lawmakers

03.12.2021 09:45
Warsaw Mayor Rafał Trzaskowski has told members of the United States Congress that Poland is "a battlefield between freedom and authoritarianism," state news agency PAP has reported.
Audio
The mayor of the Polish capital Warsaw, Rafał Trzaskowski.
The mayor of the Polish capital Warsaw, Rafał Trzaskowski.PAP/Piotr Nowak

Trzaskowski appeared via video link before the Foreign Relations Committee of the US House of Representatives, at a session on Thursday focusing on innovative municipal leadership in Central Europe, the PAP news agency reported. 

He was accompanied by other founding members of a group called the Pact of Free Cities, the mayors of Hungary’s Budapest, Prague in the Czech Republic and Slovakia’s Bratislava.  

Trzaskowski told the committee that Poland was currently “a battlefield between freedom and authoritarianism, between the citizens and the ruling political oligarchy, between democratic institutions and a populist government.”

He accused Poland's ruling conservative coalition of politicising the judiciary and using the state media “to spread propaganda less subtle than in the communist era,” among other criticisms. 

Trzaskowski said that Solidarity leader Lech Wałęsa, who addressed the joint houses of the US Congress in 1989 when Poland was emerging from under communism, was now being “erased from the history books.”

He also told the committee that his country “is and remains democratic” thanks to “opposition parties and the courage and dynamism of our civil society,” and because “an overwhelming majority of Polish people have not given up the fight for democratic principles.”

Danger from the East 

Trzaskowski also said that in the face of "threats from the East," such as the danger of Russian aggression, energy blackmail and the actions of Russia's ally Belarus, “the transatlantic community cannot afford to have a weak link in this part of Europe.”

He encouraged the American lawmakers to “maintain their commitments towards Poland, other countries of the region and the whole of Europe,” in the face of direct threats and hybrid attacks, including through the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, and called for sanctions against Moscow.

Trzaskowski warned that “if a vacuum is created in the region, it will be filled by the authoritarian influence of Russia and China,” PAP reported.

In a media interview afterwards, Trzaskowski said he had “tried to sound an optimistic note” before the US Congressional committee, by noting that “Poland has problems, but is still a democracy,” news outlets reported.  

(pm/gs)

Source: PAP, IAR, polsatnews.pl

Click on the audio player above for a report by Radio Poland's Michał Owczarek.