Washington—Representatives Eliot L. Engel, Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and Lead Republican Michael McCaul today urged Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki to address troubling rollbacks in Poland’s democracy. In a letter, the leaders of the Committee expressed concerns about recent government actions to curb political freedom in Poland.
“The curtailing of judicial independence and politicization of the judiciary, attacks on freedom of speech – such as laws that ban reference to some Poles’ complicity in the Holocaust - and purposeful assaults on Polish minority groups’ freedoms are examples of eroding democratic principles that threaten to undermine all of the sacrifices Poles have made to build a modern, democratic Poland,” the members wrote.
Full text of the letter can be found here and below:
His Excellency Mateusz Morawiecki
Dear Mr. Prime Minister:
One year ago, the then-Chairman and the then-Ranking Member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee wrote to you about concerns with the state of democracy in Poland. Today, we, as the new Chairman and the new Ranking Member of the same House Foreign Affairs Committee, are again writing to you on a bipartisan basis to express continued concern about the health of Poland’s democracy.
As long-time supporters of the U.S. – Poland relationship, we readily recognize the transformation Poland has undergone over the past several decades as it threw off the yoke of Soviet oppression. A valued ally in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, Poland is an important partner in numerous operations. The United States’ commitment to the Polish and European people’s security is evidenced by the deployment of over 2,000 U.S. military personnel to various operations in Poland, including NATO’s Enhanced Forward Presence and additional bilateral commitments. We recognize the challenges Poland still faces as it addresses threats posed by a resurgent Russia and the continued need to strengthen its economy and improve the standard of living for all Poles. And we stand firmly with Poland in tackling them.
At the same time, we cannot ignore the corrosion of Polish democracy. The curtailing of judicial independence and politicization of the judiciary, attacks on freedom of speech – such as laws that ban reference to some Poles’ complicity in the Holocaust - and purposeful assaults on Polish minority groups’ freedoms are examples of eroding democratic principles that threaten to undermine all of the sacrifices Poles have made to build a modern, democratic Poland. We also remain concerned about steps by the Polish government to consolidate its control of public broadcasters, and to direct public funds to pro-government media outlets. Our concern stems from the belief that the restriction of freedom of speech, historical reflection, and assaults on core democratic tenets undermines Poland’s democratic credibility.
We wish to see a vibrant Polish democracy that provides for its people, but Poland’s strength, like America’s, comes from embracing democratic ideals and values. Proceeding down a path that curbs Polish political freedoms would be an unnecessary tragedy. It is for this reason that, as friends of and believers in Poland, we offer these earnest and heartfelt thoughts to you.
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