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JEF France supports the Polish MEP Bronislaw Geremek

The Geremek affair irritates Europeans

, by Translated by Peter Matjašič, Dominika Rutkowska, Pierre-Marie Giard

All the versions of this article: [English] [français]

Bronislaw Geremek, a great figure of the anticommunist opposition, refuses to be subjected to a new Polish law of lustration (“Decommunization”) to the risk to be deposed of its mandate as Europarliamentarian at the request of the Polish authorities. Geremek received a majority support of his fellow Members of the European Parliament.

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The Lustration Law, a legal scandal

The new lustration law that entered into force on March 15 obliges hundreds of thousands of people – journalists, academics, managers of companies to lawyers and others – to declare in writing if they had collaborated with the old communist secret police or not. It replaces and supplements a law from 1997 which applied only to politicians, senior officials of the State and Magistrates, which is to say nearly 28.000 people. The first law stipulated that a person taken in obvious offence of “lie” was to be isolated of any public office during ten years.

This new law is a “threat to the freedom of expression, to that of the media and to the autonomy of universities, which creates a kind of Orwell-like Ministry of Truth”, Mr. Geremek estimated, while launching “an appeal to restraint and responsibility” to Polish authorities.

The European Parliament supports the Polish MEP

On 20 July 2004, a courageous attempt supported by people of good direction had been undertaken, to elect Mr. Geremek as President of the EP. At the time, the two large parties, the EPP and the PSE, shamefully opposed to share the presidency of the EP. The Greens and especially the democrats of the ALDE grouping had been the only ones to support the candidature of Geremek and to criticize the choice of the European political mastodons.

However, Mr. Geremek was given an ovation last Thursday in the European Parliament in Strasbourg when the president of the Parliament, Hans-Gert Pöttering, said he would examine “all the legal means so that Mr. Geremek can continue his work”.

The Chairman of the European greens, Daniel Cohn-Bendit, invited his colleagues to defend the Polish MEP “against methods worthy of Stalinist or fascists”, whereas its counterpart of the socialist group, the German Martin Schulz, evoked sanctions against the Polish government if it had suddenly persisted in this way.

Quoting articles 6 and 7 of the Nice Treaty which lay down the possibility of depriving a member state of its voting rights in the Council of Ministers in case of violation of human rights, Mr. Schultz invited Europe “to raise itself against the blatant negation of European values by the Polish government”. “Geremek is right to refuse the witch-hunt of this government”, declared for his part the leader of the liberal group, the British Graham Watson, while saying he is “proud” of him.

For many MEPs, the “Geremek affair” is only further proof of the undemocratic variations of the Kaczynski government, which also proved to be a difficult and often unforeseeable interlocutor in the search for compromise within the European Union.

JEF France supports Bronislaw Geremek

Our association, JEF France, assures Mr. Geremek all our support in this fight for the respect of the freedom of expression and in his combat for the respect of human dignity. He remains for us the very European Pole, who, well before the year 1989, was persuaded that the place of Poland was in the European Union. He fulfils his functions in an undeniable way and shows the face of modern Poland, entirely European and opened to dialog. Moreover, he is recognized abroad more than any politician of the party which controls Poland since 2005.

We remain vigilant of the actions pursued by the Polish government to this mobilization of the European people. The challenge which he threw to the government of his country allows the Generation Europe to understand that what is legitimate is not always legal.

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Image:

Simone Veil, Member of the French Constitutional court and former president of the EP, Romano Prodi and Bronislaw Geremek, professor of European history at the College of Europe and former Polish Foreign Minister (from left to right), 29 March 2003.

Source:

Audiovisual media library of the European Commission

Links:

Statement in support of Bronislaw Geremek by the European movement international (EMI), source: EMI

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