Citizens' Weekend Warsaw

Poland – another drifting EU member?

Poland's political direction and democratic system changed enormously during the last year. The Polish society became hence increasingly divided over Poland's future direction. There are the strong supporters of a catholic, national Poland and those who advocate a more liberal, secular and European Poland. Trying to understand the national perspectives and its effect on whole Europe, Citizens of Europe and friends went to Warsaw in 17.-19. November to our “Citizens Weekend 2017” under the motto of “Poland at the Crossroads”.

On Friday Dr. Martin Dahl from the Lazarski University Warszawa gave us a detailed introduction into the political Poland, its people, parties and constellations and shaped a quite negative scenario from a quite conservative society which exactly mirrors current political tendencies.
On Saturday different workshops on more current debates in Poland helped to explain and to understand the different movements and changes. There was Anna Wojcik from the Institute of Law Studies at the Polish Academy of Sciences, who introduced in the topic of juridical reforms. Educational reforms were eleborated by Ela Kielak, a representer from the Antidiscrimination Education Association. Another expert in the field of women's rights was Kamila Feren, who provided us with insights of developments of human rights, especially in regard to woman in Poland. As common in current times, media always plays a crucial role in influencing society and politics, hence also in Poland. The Wropost Journalist and Book Author Maria Kadzielska informed about the media's influence in Poland on politics and the citizens' minds.
Four experts participated finally in a panel discussion. Namely Dr. Adrian Chojan from the Polish Academy of Science, Dr. Jan Grymski and Dr. Ostap Kushnir from the Lazarski University Warsaw and Agnieszka Wísniewska from Political Critique. Moderator was Gerd Röhrbron form the Böll Foundation and former board member of Citizens of Europe. The panel discussion put the “Polish problem” into a wider context. It gave answers to the questions of how this country could drift the way it did and to what extent this phenomenon can be related or differentiated from others, such as Hungary. The main conclusion: particular reforms provoke massive protests mainly form the people affected by this reforms. Let it be parents and teachers or environmental activists. But: a massive political movement challenging the populistic right-wing government is not existing. On the contrary: current government can rely on wide support by society, media and the church.

The Conference concluded on Sunday morning with a final debate. The President of the European Movement Poland, Marcin Swiecicki and Prof. Dr. Andrii Verstiak from the Czernivtsi University opened discussions about solutions and problems the European Union has to face these days, how those challenges changed over time and what can be expected in near future. And also here are no reasons for optimism. EU measures against Poland because of the violation of the EU-treaty and the European values will be vetoed by Hungary and other populistic governments. Nationalism, new tendencies of autocratism, human right violations and xenophobia are more and more a common European challenge. When EU-cooperation fails on a state level, the key for change in the end only lies in the engagement and fight of Polish and European citizens.

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