Poland's Prime Minister Beata Szydlo arrives at the EU summit meeting in Brussels, Belgium, October 19, 2017. REUTERS/Dario Pignatelli
November 9, 2017
By Lidia Kelly and Pawel Sobczak
WARSAW (Reuters) – Poland wants to be sure that Christian traditions are not subject to “ideological censorship” in the European Union, Prime Minister Beata Szydlo said on Thursday, emphasizing her party’s opposition to Muslim immigration.
Along with Hungary, Poland has refused to take in any of its quota of the wave of refugees from Syria and elsewhere who have come to Europe since 2015, on the grounds that Muslim immigrants are a threat to their national security and stability.
Szydlo’s eurosceptic Law and Justice (PiS) party appeals directly to the more socially conservative sections of Poland’s overwhelmingly Roman Catholic population.
In a foreign policy speech marking the midpoint of the parliamentary term, Szydlo said Christians in Europe should not need to feel uncomfortable or ashamed about their faith and traditions.
“We are in favor of (an EU) where Christian traditions are not subject to ideological censorship,” she told a conference organized by the Polish Institute of International Affairs.
Opinion polls in Poland – one of the most ethnically and religiously homogenous countries in Europe – indicate that about three-quarters of Poles are against accepting refugees.
Apart from refusing its quota, Szydlo’s government has triggered a series of disputes with the EU executive, the European Commission, over policies that Brussels says undermine democracy and the rule of law.
In a veiled criticism of France and Germany, the traditional motors of EU integration, Szydlo said that countries such as Poland should be a greater part of the bloc’s decision-making process.
“The EU’s principle of respect for the rights of its citizens will cease to be an empty one only when the debate about the future of the European Union takes place with the participation of all concerned, not in three or four capitals,” she said.
Opinion polls suggest up to 80 percent of Poles back EU membership, though many are also opposed to deeper EU integration and joining the euro currency.
Szydlo reiterated that Poland would stay in the EU, but said that growing euroscepticism in several countries was a sign that “some politicians” were unwilling to recognize the problems within the bloc.
“It’s not enough to stigmatize tens of millions of Europeans in different countries as immature and dangerous populations, or to put Poland in a corner,” Szydlo said.
(Writing by Lidia Kelly)