Friday, 23 November 2007

Poland changes its tune

The effects of the election in Poland that ousted the Kaczynski stranglehold on power is already being seen, with the new government saying it wants to be the first to ratify the Lisbon Treaty.

The speaker of the Polish parliament Bronislaw Komorowski said yesterday "I hope that Poland will be the first country to ratify the treaty. This would be a symbolic gesture, signifying Poland's return to the heart of Europe."

At the same time, that signature is going to have one notable caveat - Poland will still be exempt from the the Charter of Fundamental Rights. Komorowski said that to try to undue the exemption worked out by the country's previous far-right regime would be too much of a risk, saying "We won't run the risk of the president not ratifying the treaty (..) That would be the worst for Poland and for Europe."

That document, which outlines citizens' rights and is technically legally binding by the treaty, is seen in conservative circles as a backdoor to allowing abortions, euthanasia or gay marriages.

The fear is that the older Kaczynski twin, who is still president, would refuse to sign any agreement which embraced the human rights declaration, throwing the whole treaty into jeapordy. Poland, as wella s all of Europe, he argues, can't risk it.

Interestingly, the new government is also signalling a change in its relationship with Russia and the US, possibly softening toward the former and hardening toward the latter. He says Warsaw is also willing to "open dialogue" with the Kremlin on two thorny issues – the US ambition to place parts of a missile shield in Poland. That project, which the US desperately wants, may now be in jeopardy.

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