Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Polish ex-foreign ministers were Soviet spies, claims minister

Some of Poland’s ex-foreign ministers have been branded Soviet spies by controversial deputy defence minister, Antoni Macierewicz.

Report by Michal Zajac


Such a statement made by a person being a controversial figure himself has caused a heated debate in Poland. Report by Michal Zajac.

The statement was made on a Catholic television channel in relation to a letter written by 8 foreign ministers of post-communist Poland last month. In the letter the ex-heads of diplomacy, among them respected intellectuals and anti-communist activists such as Bronislaw Geremek or Wladyslaw Bartoszewski, blamed the current authorities for Poland’s deteriorating relations with its EU partners.

Antoni Macierewicz, deputy defence minister in charge of military intelligence, stated in the TV interview that most of the ministers had been Soviet spies and may have acted on orders from abroad. These words have raised a heated discussion across Poland.

In the opinion of political analyst Oskar Chomicki such remarks should not be made publicly.

‘These are very serious accusations. Mr Macierewicz has been known for being totally irresponsible. The accusations should not have been made in public as they shed a bad light on the accused ministers.’

Lower House speaker Marek Jurek of the ruling Law and Justice agrees that evidence should be provided to justify Antoni Macierewicz’s accusations.

‘Minister Macierewicz should back such firm charges with some form of evidence, be it publicly or just to the knowledge of the prime minister.’

Cabinet head Jaroslaw Kaczynski as well as defence minister Radoslaw Sikorski have asked the author of the statement for explanation. Some of the ministers in question are considering suing Macierewicz, while members of the opposition have criticised what they call a lack of reaction to the words on the part of the authorities. Jerzy Szmajdzinski of the leftist Democratic Left Alliance and former defence minister.

‘We are witnessing an unusual scandal. It’s not how people responsible for the image of a 40-million country like Poland should act.’

Oskar Chomicki of the Poland in Europe Foundation agrees that such remarks by high-ranking officials may indeed undermine Poland’s credibility in the eyes of foreign partners.

‘Those accused of spying should sue Mr Maciereweicz. Otherwise our partners, be it Tony Blair or George W. Bush, will have doubts in the credibility of Polish diplomacy of the last 17 years.’

Antoni Macierewicz returned to top politics earlier this summer when he was charged with the reform of the Polish intelligence services.