Marek Siwiec MEP on Poland & Europe

“Gazeta Wyborcza” from May 21, 2013 published an extensive article of Jacek Saryusz-Wolski MEP on the Eastern Partnership and its ups and downs. I read it with interest, but also with disappointment. I, too, could name the shortcomings, weaknesses, and even iniquities that the partner countries have demonstrated countless times. Leaving aside the “obvious evidence” of the Polish merits and changes which have taken place in the EU thanks to the introduction of the Eastern Partnership Program to the current political cycle, there are a few questions to be answered. In particular, such an experienced politician as Minister Saryusz-Wolski, should answer these questions himself.

First off: by starting a political dialogue with the countries of the Eastern Partnership, has he ever doubted the quality of the democracy, the real balance of power, and the possibility of development in societies covered by this program? I did not have these doubts. I knew that the changes should concern social consciousness. Intense relationships with the European Union support these changes. However, this is a long process and, without a doubt, we still have to overcome many bumps on the road to success.

Today, in his doubts, that the “ladies in waiting,” with whom we want to sign the Association Agreement, are not as beautiful as he imagined, Saryusz-Wolski is very hypocritical and unreasonable. We know exactly the kind of democracy that is present in countries such as Ukraine, Moldova, Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan. We know this because we work with them and they work with us. In each of these countries, there is not enough democracy, but it’s becoming more. We have people to talk to, to make demands to, and to ask questions to. There is a real political competition occurring and the public is indicating who their favourites are in the elections. In each of these countries, the opposition is functioning though to different degrees. In some, such as in Ukraine, Georgia, and even Moldova, there have been many changes in governments, the driving seat was taken by different parties.

Secondly: can these concerns and potential insufficiencies affect our willingness to sign Partnership Agreements? My answer is clear. Signing the Association Agreement with any of these countries will be a success and the lack of signing or initialling them will indicate a failure. This failure will take away our chance to create an association ad calendas graecas, which could in consequence end up with filling the void with Russian influences.

And thirdly: is it worth translating Winston Churchill’s famous saying, that “Great Britain has no eternal allies, only eternal interests” into the modern language of the European Union? I understand that Mr. Saryusz-Wolski suffers when his political friends lose the elections. I understand that he suffered when he supported the Saakashvili’s party until the very end, against any logic or Polish and European interests, when the party suffered electoral defeat. I understand that his heart is much closer to the Ukrainian opposition. He doesn’t like the fact that it was the Party of Regions that led to spectacular negotiations for the Association Agreement. But it’s precisely in this situation that we can recall the reflection of Churchill. We have business in the East; we meaning both Poland and the European Union do. We also have friends- sometimes in power, and sometimes in the opposition. You can’t get offended just because the party you support loses the election once or twice.

We know that within the European Union there is a large fraction that through criticizing the Eastern Partnership works on the interests of Russia. We can work patiently on improving the situation or spin the bitter remarks. We can make this process much faster or much more difficult. This is why I’m addressing Mr. Saryusz-Wolski, as a rapporteur-shadow for the S&D group, to suggest our cooperation in order to create a report that will show that the glass is not necessarily half empty. From my point of view, I see it as half full.

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