After attending the latest in a series of summits of right-wing and far-right European leaders, Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said they “showed that there is a different future for Europe based on sovereign states, not on a centralized structure”. ”.
Among the participants in the two-day meeting in Madrid – which took place under the slogan “Defend Europe” – were Frenchwoman Marine Le Pen, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán and Santiago Abascal, leader of the Spanish Vox party who hosted the event.
Leaders condemned EU policies in a number of areas and pledged to work together more closely in the European Parliament.
Poland’s ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party, which takes a strongly anti-Russian line, has been criticized for building relationships with pro-Russia leaders, particularly in the current context of Ukraine.
Earlier this week, opposition leader Donald Tusk called on Morawiecki not to join “anti-Ukrainian and pro-Putin” politicians in Madrid. In response, Morawiecki called on Tusk to step down as chairman of the European People’s Party over his role in the development of Russia’s Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline.
After attending the Madrid summit, Morawiecki announced that in the “final declaration adopted at today’s meeting, Russia’s actions were unequivocally condemned”, reports the Interia news site.
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The Polish News Agency (PAP) quotes the statement as saying that “Russian military operations on Europe’s eastern border have brought us to the brink of war” and calling for “solidarity, determination and cooperation in defense in the face of such threats”.
However, at the time of writing, no official version of the statement has been released. During this time, a copy of document published on Le Pen’s website – which includes Morawiecki’s name underneath – makes no mention of Russia.
According to two French journalists – Anne Renaut of AFP and Alain Guillemoles of The cross – Le Pen had refused to sign the version of the statement that included a paragraph on Russia.
On the other hand, the joint declaration in Spanish distributed by the Vox party retained the paragraph on Ukraine, contested by the French candidate, reputed to be close to Moscow, but supported by Poland and Hungary, former communist countries 2/
— Anne Renaut (@AnneRenaut) January 29, 2022
Elsewhere in their joint statement, the right-wing leaders pledged to “protect Europe from imposed ideologies and the anti-democratic drift that leads to its downfall”.
They criticized the European Union’s “disastrous” migration policies and promised to “defend Europe against external and internal threats”. There was also condemnation of Brussels’ “politically motivated attacks on Poland and Hungary” and a commitment to “defend the primacy of national constitutions over European law”.
The participants – whose parties are currently spread across different European groupings – also said they would seek to “join forces on the aforementioned issue in the European Parliament”.
We love Europe because we love our Nations. And we defend Europe because we defend our Nations!
– Marine Le Pen (@MLP_officiel) January 29, 2022
Speaking after the conclusion of the summit, Morawiecki said it was “very good that we can be among our friends today and see that there is a different way of thinking about Europe”, reports Rzeczpospolita.
The Prime Minister acknowledged that some partners “look at Russia differently from us”, notes TVN24. But he added that as “realists”, the aim of the Polish government is to try to help them understand the threat posed by Moscow, and the Madrid summit showed that this policy is “already bearing fruit”.
Morawiecki also said progress had been made in a number of other areas, including on energy prices. The joint declaration included a passage pledging to “work towards greater European energy capacity…[by] improving energy self-sufficiency”.
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The Madrid meeting comes less than two months after the PiS hosted the same group of leaders in Warsaw, during which they pledged to “put an end to the worrying idea of creating a Europe ruled by a self-proclaimed elite”. and instead emphasized the role of “free and equal nation states”.
The summits marked a significant shift in the approach of the PiS, which had previously ruled out working with Le Pen due to its Russian sympathies. In 2019, PiS chairman Jarosław Kaczyński said that Le Pen’s National Rally party is “obviously linked to Moscow and receives its support”.
However, as the Polish government descended into conflict with the European Union, it increasingly sought allies among Eurosceptic parties. Although those efforts initially included Italian Matteo Salvini, he and his Lega party were absent from the Warsaw and Madrid summits.
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Main image credit: MLP_official/Twitter
Daniel Tilles is editor-in-chief of Notes from Poland. He has written about Polish affairs for a wide range of publications, including Foreign Police, POLITICO Europe, EUobserver and Dziennik Gazeta Prawna.