Let’s see how much NATO is worth – interview with Lech Wałęsa,
“If the Law and Justice win the elections to the European Parliament, they will actually lose,” former President of Poland tells Jacek Nizinkiewicz.
On Wednesday, Rzeczpospolita wrote that Europe would be split by another iron curtain. Poland would end up on the right side of it, Ukraine – on the wrong one.
Lech Wałęsa, former President, Peace Nobel Prize winner:
There is no secure and free Poland without free Ukraine. Politicians, mainly Americans, do not learn from their mistakes and keep making new ones. The first blunder of the West cost Poland 50 years of Communism. Now, Western Europe and the US are making the same mistake with Ukraine. If the Ballistic Missile Defence system were deployed also in Poland, the situation would be entirely different. We must speak out loudly about Barack Obama’s mistakes. The US has not been able to organise the world, which is why we keep losing. Well, US politicians are what they are. I am dissatisfied with them.
Global solidarity is not working out. We cannot agree to a new iron curtain. We may not give up Ukraine to Putin or let it be divided. But we should not let war to develop either. Western countries should jointly resist Putin. Here in Europe we must be better organized, with greater solidarity. We cannot count on the US; otherwise we will continue to lose.
Soon Ukraine will choose its President…
Yulia Tymoshenko should not run for the election, she has no chance of winning. Today Ukraine does not have any leader who would symbolise the changes and who could be a foundation to build the new order upon. The chaos in Ukraine may lead to the Maidan being called Putin’s provocation.
So should Ukraine perhaps join NATO soon?
If NATO gives up Ukraine to Putin, then what kind of NATO is it? Let’s see how much NATO is worth. It turns out that when it’s fine, it’s fine, but when it gets tough, then in a moment of confrontation we are left on our own. If NATO military brigades are to be stationed in Poland, let’s sign an agreement with them that they would not run away when it gets dangerous.
The world seems to have accepted Russia’s annexation of Crimea.
I am waiting for the world to respond to Putin like a man. So far, everyone seems to be wheeling and dealing.
What would you recommend?
We should build a global “Solidarity”, only more modern. We should quietly ask each country: How much are you really able to do for Ukraine? Then we would know how we may fight and who is with us.
Should the world agree to the division of Ukraine?
By no means. The world should find unanimous power to force Putin to behave as he ought to in the 21st century.
There are the sanctions, Russia may be excluded from the G8, and Russian oligarchs’ foreign accounts have been frozen. But Putin does not seem to care.
That is too little. We should look into Russian gas and trade, to what extent we can afford to exclude Russia from economic agreements. A Solidarity Commission should be set up to receive commitments from every country in the world and to oversee them being put into practice.
Should all countries together abandon the import of gas from Russia?
Here we cannot win.
Except now it is Putin who is winning. A hundred victims in the Maidan, and Ukraine loses part of its territory.
It is hard to win at boxing and chess games at the same sports field. Someone plays the chess, someone else does boxing. The world must not let Putin get away with this, because it will end up badly for all of us.
But how can we stop Putin?
Apart from the commission I have mentioned, people like Putin should be brought to justice at the International Court of Justice in The Hague or some other international court. One cannot just break laws, agreements, and threaten the security of nations. Something needs to be done so that everyone knows already beforehand that they would be prosecuted.
Don’t you have the impression that the egoistic EU is not standing the test in a time of trial?
This is why a global commission should be set up to deal with Russia. The US does not lead the world, and it should.
Are you afraid of a military conflict?
The conflict is real, because we have lunatics. But it is so unprofitable that we will soon abandon it. We may get bruised here and there, though. Putin has recalled he is from the KGB, and they used to be tough there.
What do you think about general conscription in relation to the situation in Ukraine?
I am all for it, only make it smarter and shorter. It was a mistake to abandon it.
Should we designate more money for armaments?
Yes, we should, but we are not ready to do so.
How do you see Poland’s involvement in the issue of Ukraine?
I’d rather see Poland take to organising the matters I’m talking about.
Is Radosław Sikorski rising as a European leader?
He is trying to, but many mistakes have been made in the fight for Ukraine.
Sikorski is a talented, intelligent man, quick to learn and imaginative. He only lacks experience. If he is not spoiled, he has a chance of becoming President in the future.
Are you anointing Mr Sikorski for the future President?
That cannot be ruled out altogether.
Does Donald Tusk have a chance to rebuild his position thanks to the Ukrainian conflict?
Not only thanks to that. Overall, he is a fairly good politician. However, he is beginning to make mistakes, and I do not like it. He is beginning to lose common sense.
Barack Obama is coming to Poland on 4 June. What should we expect from the US President concerning Ukraine and security guarantees for Poland?
We should tell Obama that he is the culprit of all this, because if he had not backed off from the BMD, the reality would be different now. The US President has made a mistake that should now be quickly remedied, as only the BMD may guarantee adequate security. Otherwise it will cost us even more in the future.
Will you be celebrating the anniversary of “Solidarity” on 4 June?
No, because it was not a victory.
Should “Solidarity” attack candidates of the Civic Platform to the European Parliament?
I will now try to welcome everyone in “Solidarity”, because they are in trouble and I would like to help. But I will not change my attitude on reforms and Poland. I will not switch to demagogy and populism.
Do you support Piotr Duda when it comes to aid for mothers of children with disabilities?
I, and everybody else after me, have not done much for that group. But I do not like it when those people are used in political battles. That problem has not appeared today, it has been growing. Today Poland is in disorder.
Should the Prime Minister have met with the mothers in the Sejm?
Yes, but he should have asked them: tell me, who I should take away the money from, and I will jump and do so, because you really deserve it. Just seek out who I should take it from, then I agree. But we will have to take it away from someone; otherwise I do not have where to take it from.
Polish public finance is like a blanket that is too short – when you cover your head, your feet will stick out, and vice versa.
What do you think about the lists of party candidates for the European Parliament elections?
Athletes at the EU Parliament!? This goes beyond reason. What political experience do they have? What knowledge?
I dislike elections and politics, and I have been wondering what it was that I used to fight for. Twenty years ago I said that the era we were heading towards would require clearer organisation. Citizens must know where a given politician stands politically. Anyone who wants to be a politician should have a chip, and everything should be recorded in that chip – how much they have, who they sleep with, so that I know who they are. Then the election comes, when they deceive me once, they and all their family would not be allowed to run for any elections for 50 years.
It is possible to stop all that nonsense, to choose wisely, we must only improve organisation. We will not go very far with that old style. I am an advocate of large parties, but not of athletes or celebrities, or people who cannot say a word in English.
What the chances do the Law and Justice have in the European Parliament elections?
If they win, then in fact they will lose. Because they are unable to fulfil their promises, they have fallen foul of everyone, and so this will be their final defeat.