During today’s plenary in the European Parliament on the rule of law in Poland Law and Justice (PiS) leader Ryszard Legutko ran away from the debate while the European Liberals and Democrats called for the activation of Article 7. The leader of the ALDE Group in the European Parliament Verhofstadt stressed that sanctions should be directed at politicians, ordinary citizens should not become the victims of their leaders who are copying Orban’s policies.
Guy Verhofstadt said: "On Saturday, fascists hijacked the streets of Warsaw. Neo-Nazi’s calling for ‘white supremacy’, for ‘clean blood’; reminding us the darkest pages in history."
"I am not talking about Charlottesville in America. This was happening in Warsaw, in Poland. At less than 350 kilometers from Auschwitz and Birkenau. A couple of years ago, this was unthinkable in Europe, unthinkable in Poland."
"Poland could still be a leader in Europe, but has degraded itself to the gang of Orban and its illiberal societies. Kaczynski has copied Orban by politicising the constitutional court, curtailing civil society, muzzling the free media."
"As in the case of Hungary - we need to activate article 7. Now. Not to punish Poland, but to save its European legacy. Not to punish the citizens of Poland, but to punish those politicians who want to destroy this legacy."
"We will never accept any sanctions against Polish citizens themselves. Better to divert this European money from the polish government directly to the polish civil society, to the Polish cities, to the ordinary polish people. The ordinary Polish citizens should never be the victim of the reactionary agenda of Kaczynski."
Sophie in 't Veld, ALDE GroupVice President, finds it remarkable how the agenda of the PiS is mirroring the agenda of the Russian government, moving towards nationalism, authoritarianism, xenophobia, homophobia and sexism. In 't Veld also called on the ECR group to expel the PiS from their ranks:
"The Polish government's refusal to condemn Warsaw's fascist expression last weekend shows once again that Poland, under the leadership of the nationalist-conservative PiS party, is drifting further and further from everything Europe stands for. The Polish government is turning a blind eye when fascists from home and abroad are rallying, while their critics are now subjected to censorship. That is unacceptable and other members of the ECR should not want to be associated with that party."
"The situation shows the urgent need for a broad mechanism for the protection of democracy, the rule of law and fundamental rights, as proposed by the European Parliament."