Poland and Polish Discussion Group and Forum

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Re: Recent Embarassment

Heard this news on the radio. But only now found a report in English.

Laughable.

Poland's squabbling rivals air grievances over who gets the flight

While Europe's leaders fretted over the future of capitalism Poland's finest statesmen had only one thing on their minds: who would get the official jet bound for the Brussels summit.

Donald Tusk, the Polish Prime Minister, who is not very fond of his President, won round one by commandeering the Government's sole available executive jet. Upon landing in the Belgian capital, he refused to send the aircraft back to Warsaw where Lech Kaczynski, the President, was waiting for the next flight to Belgium. It never arrived so the President was forced to charter another aircraft.

By the time it landed in Brussels Mr Kaczynski was furious - but worse was to come. Mr Tusk, who heads a pro-European coalition in Warsaw that is under constant sniper fire from the Eurosceptic President, had also pinched Mr Kaczynski's chair at the high table.

Poland was allocated two seats at the EU summit. Mr Tusk, insisting that he was Poland's official representative, took one, and placed Jacek Rostowski, his Finance Minister, in the other.

As the matter threatened to come to blows Mr Rostowski stood up to allow his travel-weary head of state to rest his legs. “We are gentlemen, we will not have a scuffle,” he said, conceding that the situation had become “serious and dangerous”.

Relations between Mr Tusk and Mr Kaczynski have been deteriorating steadily this year and lawyers are exchanging writs over who should represent the country formally abroad on different occasions. Some diplomats have observed that before Mr Tusk won power last year it did not matter who attended the summit for Poland since the President's identical twin with near-identical conservative views, Jaroslaw Kaczynski, was then Prime Minister.

Mr Tusk and most lawyers have argued that the Prime Minister is entitled to lead the Polish delegation, and that the President's trip was private. “The President is going to Brussels but not for the EU summit,” Mr Tusk said in the Belgian capital.

Polish media have compared their leaders to boys fighting over toys in a sandpit. EU observers noted that such rows would only undermine Poland's image abroad. One EU diplomat said: “This does not look serious - as if there were not more important things to quarrel about.”

The Polish Government naturally blamed Mr Kaczynski for the fiasco. “The President has made our task much more difficult as our partners now have no clarity about our position,” Radoslaw Sikorski, the Foreign Minister said. “It is an unprecedented situation.” Anticipating the worst Mr Sikorski earlier pleaded with Mr Kaczynski “on bended knee” not to attend the summit.

The battle of the Brussels flights was the second bout of bickering in Eastern Europe. President Yushchenko of Ukraine snatched a government plane that was supposed to be used by Yuliya Tymoshenko, the Prime Minister, for an official trip to Moscow.

Times Newspaper

Re: Recent Embarassment

Two very, very naughty little boys - they should have their heads banged together and be sent to stand in opposite corners.