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Jarosław the goal scorer

Published on May 22, 2012 by: in: Politics

A move made by Jarosław Kaczyński in the morning on May 3 – supporting the idea of boycotting Euro 2012 sport events in Ukraine was not an own goal at all but a classic hat-trick. The ball, slowly and aimlessly played by Western European politicians, landed at former Prime Minister’s feet. For the first time in a long time he proved to have quick reflexes (is it because Bielan-Kaminski couching duo comeback?) and put the ball into the net twice. He scored the third goal on a pass from Donald Tusk himself, who did not really know what was going on on the pitch.

picture: Piotr Drabik

Law and Justice leader, who is considered to be isolated in Europe, democracy-threatening cynic, achieved three things thanks to one statement. Firstly, he presented himself as a politician guided by values and ready to do unpopular things in the name of those values (a substantial majority of Polish people are not willing to stand up for Yulia Tymoshenko). Secondly, at least for a moment he changed a set pattern of Polish politics according to which Civic Platform was associated with Western European modernity and Law and Justice with being full of resentment and national obscurantism. Of course, it is not enough to be Angela Merkel’s favourite Polish partner but this effectively undermined Tusk’s credibility as such. Thirdly, he managed to provoke Prime Minister’s reaction which confirms insinuations about his authoritarian tendencies. Prime Minister promised to go to Kiev for the cup match. If Yulia Tymoshenko’s health condition does not improve, he will sit in the parade stand definitely in bad company.

This whole fuss about former Ukrainian Prime Minister’s bruises and cancelled trips is ambiguous. Organizing the World Cup competion together with Poland was supposed to bring Ukraine closer to Europe. Absence of the European politicians among the guests will mean diminishing effectiveness of this plan or even abandoning it. Boycott is in Russia’s interest, but Russia (which imprisoned Khodorkovsky and is even less democratic than Ukraine) could not initiate it. It is not surprising though that Berlin is raring to it. Former Ukrainian Prime Minister has many contacts there, and many politicians would want to give Poland a ticking off for their request to moralize Moscow.

Irrespectively of this obvious dependence, what is happening in Kharkovian penal colony is scandalous. Even if Yulia Tymoshenko really deserves imprisonment (if so, it can be expected that deputy Prime Minister Pawlak, who negotiated unprofitable contract for gas supply would be put behind bars as well), for humanitarian considerations she should get there after recovering from her mysterious illness. It would not be a bad idea to ask why actions aiming at cleansing Ukrainian politics are limited to one political party. Were there no fraudsters in Party of Regions? If so, why its politicians are so rich and the country so poor?

There are many opponents of Europeanization of Ukraine both in Ukraine and Germany. It was beyond any doubt that for a couple of weeks before the competion starts they will use Tymoshenko case to discredit this view, considered in Warsaw to be a key element of Polish raison d’être. Even if minister Sikorski and his associates could not predict this or they predicted it but they could not prevent it, (for example, by making Yanukovych allow Tymoshenko to recover for a couple of weeks before the competition and imprison her again after the last match) they showed serious lack of professionalism. They have not found a good argument against the boycott, which is understandable, because there is no such argument.

There is no evidence to support statement that the boycott is affecting Poland. All foreign politicians who called for it emphasized that it is supposed to concern only Ukrainian part of competition.  It is worth mentioning that the clou of the boycott is supposed to be the absence of representatives of the European governments and institutions in the stands. How this would be harmful to celebration of sport remains unsolved. Are ministers and commissioners better fans than ordinary people? Besides, the best European football team can be determined with the stands empty.

Opposition of Tusk, Komorowski and Kwaśniewski to „mixing sport with politics” is deceptive. Isn’t the presence of VIP’s on stadium an example of such involvement? How could Euro bring Kiev closer to Brussels if there were no connection between sport and politics?

An argument that the boycott affects innocent Ukrainian nation, which was happy to host Austrian minister of sport or the European Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development is equally senseless. Besides it was used during Jerzy Urban’s press conference, where he tried to prove that after implementing American sanctions during the martial law, the government is still capable of supporting itself.

Underestimating Tymoshenko case deprives Poland of moral right to stand up for defence of Belorussian, Cuban and Tibetan members of the opposition. Implementing the „commensurability” is a dangerous precedent – a first step to apply a horrible conversion rate: “five political prisoners – one vuvuzela on stadium less”.

Everything is clear: by attempting to physically eliminate political rival Yanukovych wasted the chance for rapprochement with West. If Poland really wanted the rapprochement it should have stopped the Ukrainian President in time. Or at least it should not have defended him in such a discreditable way when the persuasion failed. The fact that Jarosław Kaczyński as the first Polish politician understood this proves his political instinct, which we were actually doubtful about.

Translation: Agata Sławińska

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About Krzysztof Iszkowski

Sociologist of politics. Graduate of the University of Warsaw (sociology) and Warsaw School of Economics (international relations), PhD (2008) in the Institute of Philosophy and Sociology of the Polish Academy of Science. A member of the Research Center on Democracy, author of Liberte!.

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