PC Press Digest

Weekly Press Digest – November 13

Political Critique's weekly selection from the Eastern European press.

Michal Chmela’s selection

It has been a fairly calm week in the Czech Republic, as it is still slowly recuperating from all the emotional damage inflicted on its citizens by the elections and (primarily) the pre-election campaign. But life goes and so we can get back to the usual sweet, innocent things we do, like training German neo-Nazis, beating up black people on trams, or threatening a bunch of kids because their school photo does not show sufficient racial purity. Racism gradually creeping into general acceptance as the normal thing to do is most definitely not helped by things like our beloved President, may his next flight to Russia pull a Smolensk, by attacking the Romani in his weekly vomit-inducing TV monologue and suggesting the whole human rights thing could be put on the back burner.

Zeman clearly still believes he has not inflicted his trademark verbal diarrhea on an amount of people willing to eat it up that would be sufficient to get his corpse re-elected President; to this end, he announced his intent to summon the head of Czech TV for a proper dressing down regarding the fact the news did not broadcast a live video of his utterly unremarkable press conference on one of his state-paid campaign trips. Pressure is likely to be applied; whether this is going to affect the way Czech TV covers his endeavors to prove he is not falling apart on camera remains to be seen. The fact it would be extremely difficult to broadcast a live coverage of a politician who needs bodyguards to help him stand up could prove relevant.

And of course, there are the eager replacements. Nine men who would be President participated in their first public debate. Words were thrown around, meaningless phrases were cited, nothing of value was said. It is probably too early to start flinging false accusations and whipping up doctored photos.

Michal Chmela is a translator and journalist.


Roman Broszkowski’s selection

Nord Stream 2
President of the European Council Donald Tusk has joined the fight against Nord Stream 2. Tusk sent letters to other European leaders urging them to support new EU directives and offer amendments that hamper the profitability of NS2 for Gazprom. Tusk’s involvement could signal that the anti-NS movement is finally hitting its stride. Poland and other Eastern European member states have long worried that the NS2 pipeline will be used as an instrument of Russian foreign policy to pressure the EU and hurt Ukraine by removing important transit fees from Ukraines income so the recent developments are very welcomed. Additionally, NS2 biggest supporters, the German SPD has been replaced by the Greens who oppose the pipeline. These recent developments combined with Polish lobbying the US has put the future of NS2 in doubt and could deal Russia a harsh rebuke.

Polish Foreign Policy
The Polish government is engaging in a war words with both its Eastern and Western neighbours. The Polish Foreign Minister Witold Waszczykowski is taking offence on behalf of all Poles in response to remarks by German Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen calling for  support to “the democratic resistance of the young generation in Poland.” Waszczykowski has taken this to mean that Germany is calling for a coup in Poland and instead of reacting rationally has strained relations between Poland and a major strategic partner. This comes of the heels of comments he made last week concerning Ukraine where he said that “anti-Polish” Ukrainians would not be granted visas to enter Poland. Despite the absurdity of such a statement, Waszczykowski received institutional support recently from none other than the President of Poland, Andrzej Duda. Duda announced that he expects “from President Petro Poroshenko and his staff, from Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman, that people who openly proclaim nationalist and anti-Polish views will not occupy important offices in Ukrainian politics.” The irony is mindboggling.

Government Change
Finally, it’s shake-up week! As the 15th of November gets closer, we get a better picture of what the shake-up might actually look like. The Polish government will probably be removing some key ministers and consolidate other ministries in order “to do away with a ministerial Poland.” Personally, I still think that Prime Minister Beata Szydło will keep her job. However, the split between PiS parliamentarians and their President has been growing. Kaczyński could see this as a sign that he needs to take firmer control of the situation by assuming real powers. We will know soon enough.

Roman Broszkowski is an undergraduate International Politics student from New Jersey. His area of study is Eastern Europe and the Middle East.

Featured photo by jareed via Flickr.