As a fact-checking medium, we would like to inform President Tajani that comments like “szmalcownik” are not an exception – rather, they are typical for Mr Czarnecki’s behaviour.
OKO.press writes to the President of the European Parliament

Dear President Tajani,

OKO.press – an independent, fact-checking, investigative medium – supports the motion put forward by the leaders of four main political groups in the European Parliament for sanctioning the vice-president of the European Parliament, Mr. Czarnecki, pursuant to Rules of Procedure (Rule 21) – not only because of the recent incident, where he compared MEP Roza Thun to a “szmalcownik”.

  • Read more about Rule 21

    Rule 21: Early Termination of an Office

    The Conference of Presidents may, acting by a majority of three-fifths of the votes cast, representing at least three political groups, propose to Parliament that it bring to an end the term of office of the President, a Vice-President, a Quaestor, a Chair or Vice-Chair of a committee, a Chair or Vice-Chair of an interparliamentary delegation, or of any other office holder elected within the Parliament, where it considers that the Member in question has been guilty of serious misconduct. Parliament shall take a decision on that proposal by a majority of two-thirds of the votes cast, constituting a majority of its component Members.

    Where a rapporteur breaches the provisions of the Code of Conduct for Members of the European Parliament with respect to financial interests and conflicts of interest(1), the committee, which appointed him or her may, at the initiative of the President and on a proposal by the Conference of Presidents, terminate the holding of that office. The majorities laid down in the first paragraph shall apply mutatis mutandis to each stage of this procedure.

OKO.press has already officially asked President Tajani on 20th of September to forward our complaint about Mr Czarnecki’s tweet to The Advisory Committee on the Conduct of Members. On the 17th of August, Mr Czarnecki tweeted „Finally!!!” („Wreszcie !!!”) in response to the news that Libyan Coastal Guard shot at a Spanish NGO ship helping migrants. Here is the link to the Tweet: https://twitter.com/r_czarnecki/status/898332382666776577. We argued that this tweet broke the rules of MEP’s conduct.

Unfortunately, our complaint got stuck somewhere in the European drawers. The response of Mr Tajani’s office was that there is no legal basis for any sanctions, as it concerns a statement in social media. Our argument that MR Czarnecki introduces himself on Twitter as „MEP, Vice-President of the European Parliament, Law and Justice politician” has been dismissed.

Please note that the “Finally!!!” tweet was at least as appalling as using the word “szmalcownik” to describe Ms Thun, and also appeared in the media.

It’s a shame that the European Parliament reacts only when the scandalous behaviour of Mr Czarnecki affects another MEP. However, as the popular saying goes – better late than never.

As the fact-checking medium, we would like to inform President Tajani that both comments (“Finally” and “szmalcownik”) are not an exception – rather, they are typical for Mr Czarnecki’s behaviour.

Anti-refugee rhetoric

The “Finally!!!” tweet is a drastic example of the government rhetoric, with the goal of inciting fear and hate towards refugees, as well as justifying the refusal to take part in the relocation procedure.

In March 2017 he said: “We are very open towards refugees. Poland accepted 400 000 refugees from Ukraine. I’d like to remind you, that in the 90s Poland accepted almost 100 000 Chechnyans – Muslims. We were open then, let’s give others a chance now to do their job”.

Czarnecki describes economic immigrants from Ukraine as refugees. But according to the data of Department of Immigration, since 2015 only 4 percent of 6 256 Ukrainians got some form of international protection in Poland. As a result, there are only 250 refugees in Ukraine – 1600 times less than described by Czarnecki.

Defaming the European Union

While responding to the letter of four leaders from the European Parliament, Ryszard Czarnecki not only did not revoke his “szmalcownik” comment, but he was proud of it. He described Ms Thun’s participation in the “anti-Polish movie” as “an absolute scandal”.

In the same interview he juxtaposed, as he does so often, Poland and the European Union, describing the EU as a foreign and hostile body. He concluded that Ms Thun feels “like an ambassador of the EU in Poland, and not the other way round”. He described the criticism of violation of rule of law in Poland as national treason: “I will react in the same manner when it comes to all the politicians, who lay their hands on their own country, spit on their homeland”.

Czarnecki also systematically compares the EU with the Soviet Union, which has controlled Poland until 1989.

On the 29th August 2017 he consoled the readers of the pro-government medium wpolityce.pl , that Poland will not face serious consequences for violating the rule of law:

“This is not communism anymore, when Soviet Union was capable of sending tanks to Warsaw. Brussels will not send tanks to Poland. It can attack us through the media, through statements of the European Commission, or through another, 155th debate in the European Parliament.

This is how Czarnecki mocks the very fundamentals of the European Union, a voluntary union of states, committed to rules described in the Treaties, and to solving conflicts exactly through debates and agreed upon procedures.

Pre-election manipulations

In the period preceding the elections for the President of the European Council, on the 21st of February 2017, Czarnecki was misleading viewers of the pro-government public television channel by saying that “quiet negotiations between Christian Democrats and Socialists are still taking place. For what I know today, two EU governments will be against Donald Tusk. I am talking about Italy and Sweden, but we are also hearing about others, who are withholding their decision, so it is not yet decided”.

Those words of Czarnecki, quickly fact-checked by OKO.press, were widely repeated by right-wing media.

Dirty political language

Czarnecki often spoke about Donald Tusk wit hate and contempt. In November 2017 he said: “Donald Tusk is a frustrated person, and his position within Poland weakened significantly “. In the same interview he called Tusk “the candidate of German government”, who acts “against vital Polish interests”.

While evaluating the proposition of Jean-Claude Juncker to consolidate the positions of the President of European Commission and European Council, he said in September 2017 that “words of Mr Juncker are the assessment of Tusk’s work, or rather his lack of work – he is, excuse my language, stinking lazybones, who does nothing”.

The attack on Ms Thun is characteristic of political style, where one uses bad language to offend opponents, and credit them with the worst intentions and the worst qualities. In December 2017 he was scaring the viewers of public TV channels: “There are forces in Poland and outside Poland, which are wishing for bloodshed”.

Attacking the EU leaders

On the 3rd of April 2017 he described Guy Verhofstadt’s words about the possibility of sanctioning Poland for violating the rule of law as “an example of absolute arrogance and rudeness”.

After the January [2017] debate in the European Parliament about Poland he said in an interview for a Polish tabloid that “Mr Verhofstadt did a vulgar, obscene gesture towards Ms Szydlo. It violated European standards and I think he will have problems because of that. There is no nonsense he wouldn’t say. It’s babble.

In the opinion piece in Decembre 2017 he wrote: “People don’t take Verhofstadt seriously”; “This fellow has a thing against Poland and wants to jump over the weeping willow – Polish tree. He is gibbering and lying, but this is his liberal trait”.

(…)

In August 2017, after Frans Timmermans got the award of the Person of The Year from “Gazeta Wyborcza”, famous Polish centre-left journal, he commented on the comparison between alcoholism and nationalism made by the vice-president of the European Commission. He insinuated that:

“Apparently [Timmermans] has had some experience – I just don’t know whether it is with alcoholism or nationalism. The ghost of alcoholism is haunting Brussels, the European Commission. Different media write different things in this context”. To make his point very clear he added: “He has an obsession with Poland. In my opinion he is not a serious politician”.

Modern homophobia

Czarnecki openly expresses his homophobic views. While commenting the Eqaulity Parade on the 3rd of June he said that “the rights of people representing sexual minorities are legally guaranteed in Poland”. It’s a surprising statement, taking into account that Poland does not allow any form of legalisation of gay relationships, and 1/3 of LGBTQ people experienced some kind of violence in the last 5 years.

In response to the demand for equal rights from LGBY minorities he said: “If they demand more than straight people, than why? Heterosexuals might feel threatened”.

Czarnecki’s views are characteristic of the so-called modern homophobia, which says we should dismiss the demands for equal rights for LGBTQ community, because there is no discrimination towards sexual minorities anymore. The statement, that introducing legal gay partnerships would be discriminative towards heterosexual is a personal contribution of Mr Czarnecki.

Thank you in advance for your response.

Yours sincerely,

OKO.press team

Redaktorka, publicystka. Współzałożycielka i wieloletnia wicenaczelna Krytyki Politycznej. Pracowała w „Gazecie Wyborczej”. Socjolożka, studiowała też filozofię i stosunki międzynarodowe. Dumna z mazowiecko-podlaskich korzeni. W OKO.press pisze o mediach, polityce polskiej i zagranicznej oraz prawach kobiet.


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